The Braves played a back and forth game with Washington on Tuesday evening and despite a big night from Freddie Freeman and a strong game at the plate from Ender Inciarte, some bad defense from the Braves and some good defense from the Nats proved to be the difference in the Braves’ 8-5 loss to Washington.
Josh Tomlin took the mound for the Braves and, for the most part, he was everything that the Braves could have reasonably hoped for from a guy that basically got yanked out of a bullpen role. He certainly gave up some hard contact, but when you get four decent innings from a guy like that when most of your other starters can’t give you two, you take that. Tomlin’s final line on the day was 4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
The Braves got on the board first, and very quickly at that, as the first three hitters reached base via lasers with Travis d’Arnaud’s RBI double giving the Braves an early 1-0 lead. The next two runs would be scored by the Nationals with a fair bit of hard contact and questionable defense to blame and the Nationals would lead 2-1 going into the bottom of the third.
In the bottom half of the inning, the much-maligned bottom third of the lineup came through as Adam Duvall moved over to third on a Johan Camargo double before Austin Riley, who has been showing some signs of life in recent days, smoked an inside fastball for a two-run single to give the Braves a 3-2 lead. Austin did run himself into an out on the play and showed off some interesting ‘sliding’ skills, but it was still good to see him contribute.
It was more Braves in the bottom of the fourth. After Dansby reached base on a fielder’s choice, Freddie Freeman, who is still good at baseball. connected for a two-run homer to right that extended the Braves’ lead to 5-2.
Enter Tyler Matzek from the bullpen and whew the top of the fifth was an adventure. Through the first seven hitters, Matzek recorded one out and saw some more interesting ‘defense’ from Marcell Ozuna and a throwing error on Matzek on top of his completely inability to get anyone out. The Braves brought in AJ Minter after three runs had scored and the bases were still loaded with one out. Not ideal. Minter would then allow a run to score on a groundout, but would escape from without any more damage than that as the Braves found themselves trailing 6-5.
The Braves nearly took the lead after that when Austin Riley sent a scorcher to center field for what looked like a two-run go ahead homer. Unfortunately, Victor Robles had different ideas and despite the ball Riley hit having a xBA of .910…well, Robles beat the odds and made just a fantastic catch to end the inning.
The Nationals would be the next to score as the Braves would squander a couple of chances in the meantime. In the top of the eighth inning, Robles would get work done with the bat as well with a leadoff double and would come home a couple of pitches later on an RBI single from long time Braves nemesis Trea Turner. Shane Greene would go on to get a double play and a groundout to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
The Braves would have their chances late in the game. They had runners on the corners with one out with d’Arnaud at the plate in the bottom of the eighth, but he was called out on batter interference. Marcell Ozuna would then flyout softly to end the inning and Braves fans were sad. It is honestly remarkable how not good this team has been with runners at third with less than two out.
The Nationals would add some offense in the top of the ninth. After Mark Melancon allowed back to back baserunners after getting two quick outs, Eric Thames would get an RBI single to push the Nationals lead to 8-5. Melancon would then walk Victor Robles to load the bases, but fortunately he got Trea Turner to ground out to keep things reasonable.
Unfortunately, the Braves couldn’t replicate the magic from last night and instead of a crazy rally, they went quietly in the bottom of the ninth as Washington secured the win.