Three Cuts: Wood delivers strong start in Braves loss to Nats
The Braves couldn't replicate their April sweep of the Nationals from last year, losing 2-1 to Washington on Sunday. But the club still has a 4-2 mark headed into its home opener.
Freddie Freeman (left -- one run) and Alex Wood (two runs allowed over seven innings) essentially carried the Braves through Sunday's defeat against the Nats.
Brad Mills / USA TODAY Sports
By Jay ClemonsFOX Sports South
Here are three things we gleaned from the Braves' 2-1 road defeat against the Nationals on Sunday, a sometimes-sloppy game in which Atlanta starter Alex Wood arguably threw just one bad pitch.
1. It must be hard for professional handicappers to enjoy consistent success with day-to-day baseball odds
On paper, the Braves must have seemed like prohibitive favorites to sweep the enigmatic Nationals (4-2), who had scored just three total runs for Friday and Saturday.
Plus, Bryce Harper (mental break), Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder troubles) and lead-off hitter Denard Span weren't in Washington's lineup for the series finale.
Throw in the in-game facts of Wood (two runs allowed over seven innings) retiring 13 straight batters (innings 1 through 5), the Nationals infielders committing two shaky errors ... and that's a lot of momentum in the Braves' favor, relative to securing their first sweep of the young season.
But alas, the Nationals pitchers -- led by Taylor Jordan (one run allowed, three strikeouts over 6.1 innings) -- effectively scattered eight Braves hits on the day; and Wood, as referenced above, would probably accept a do-over on his 7th-inning encounter with shortstop Ian Desmond, who launched a letter-high, over-the-plate fastball over the left-field wall, breaking a 1-all tie and serving as the eventual game-winner.
Prior to Desmond's solo blast, Wood was efficient and effective, facing no more than four batters for five straight innings (2 through 6) and striking out four.
In fact, his only blemish for that five-inning span of excellence occurred in the 5th, when catcher Sandy Leon reached base on Chris Johnson's throwing error.
Tough loss aside, Wood still has excellent tallies for the year -- a 1.93 ERA, 9/3 K-BB ratio and 0.86 WHIP.
Not bad for a guy who could be fighting for a rotation spot a few weeks from now, once Mike Minor, Ervin Santana and Gavin Floyd are ready to pitch every fifth day in the majors.
2. There's a hidden downer in Fox Sports South's glowing in-game graphic from Sunday's telecast
Excluding Sunday, the Braves had a 19-6 record in their last 25 games against the Nationals, a staggering differential for a pair of teams that are largely viewed as relative equals.
The more surprising item, however, involved Atlanta's average of just 3.9 runs over that 25-game span.
That's a low, low figure for a club with a .760 winning percentage against a well-heeled rival.
On Sunday, only shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2 for 4) collected multiple hits for the Braves, who sent five or more batters to the plate four different times.
But the only serious scoring challenges came in the 4th when Gerald Laird (strikeout) and Simmons (fielder's choice groundout) were foiled with the bases loaded ... and in the 6th, when Dan Uggla successfully brought home Freddie Freeman on a long sacrifice fly.
3. Spoiler alert: Freddie Freeman won't reach base four or five times every night
Fresh off his one-run, two-hit, three-walk performance on Saturday, Freeman modestly tallied just one hit and one run on Sunday.
But it doesn't take much bloom off Freeman's opening-week rose, with the first baseman notching two homers, two RBI, four runs, a .421 batting average and absurd on-base percentage (.560).
In turn, that elite-level proficiency has helped deflect from Atlanta scoring just two runs or less four times in six games.
But then again, given all the injuries and open-ended concerns with Uggla, B.J. Upton and the starting rotation at large ... a 4-2 road trip against above-.500 teams (Milwaukee, Washington) looks great in advance of Tuesday's home opener.