A pair of check swings contributed to the Braves’ demise on Sunday, with Chris Johnson and Justin Upton getting tossed after striking out in the 6th and 9th innings, respectively.
In Johnson’s case, his ejection occurred immediately after Upton had produced an RBI single — bringing home the Braves’ lone run — and Nationals starter Tyler Roark had been replaced by reliever Craig Stammen.
Whether or not the fiery Johnson went all the way on the check swing … well, that’s a matter of debate. But the punchout (with the first-base umpire’s help) prompted a few choice words for the umpires and soon led to his ejection from a 3-1 game.
For the day, Atlanta was just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
For the month of June, the Braves currently rank 24th with on-base percentage — at a middling .302.
The Braves couldn’t ask for a better respite in the schedule, preservation-wise, with their midweek trip to Houston — facing an Interleague opponent and one that has a retractable-roof stadium.
As such, the coaching staff should be motivated to keep Gattis (16 homers, 39 RBI, 28 runs, .294 batting, .348 on-base percentage, .912 OPS) in the lineup for all three days … but largely in a hitting-only role (as the DH).
And over the last 30 days, three Astros starters (Jarred Cosart — 4-1, 2.76 ERA), Dallas Keuchel (3-2, 2.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) and Collin McHugh (2-2, 1.98 ERA, 31/13 K-BB) have been superb for a club that’s undoubtedly on the rise.