Three Cuts: Nationals bombard Braves with 13 runs … again
ATLANTA — For the second night in a row the Nationals scored 13 runs on the Braves. This time Atlanta couldn’t come close to keeping up. Washington laced 15 hits to score 13 runs on Wednesday, just one day after beating the Braves 13-12.
The Nationals scored 26 runs in two games against the Braves (13 per contest) after scoring just 69 runs in their first 20 (3.45 per game). They took the series from Atlanta two games to one.
Here are three observations from Atlanta’s 13-4 loss to Washington:
The last time Alex Wood gave up more than three earned runs in a start was July 25 last season against the Padres. Between that game and Wednesday’s, Wood had made 15 starts without allowing more than three earned.
Over than span — the time frame included his last 11 appearances of 2014 and the first four of this season — Wood sported a 2.18 ERA and allowed just 82 hits in 99 innings of work while striking out 88 batters.
But the Nationals touched Wood up on Wednesday. They scored a run in the second inning and then four more in the fourth. Even though he only gave up six hits and struck out eight batters, they plated five with Bryce Harper doing the most damage with two hits and two runs scored.
While the number looked bad, Wood said he felt good.
"Mechanically, and from a stuff standpoint, that’s the best I’ve been all spring," said Wood. "From that standpoint, and the process of it, I was happy, but pretty disappointed in the result. Usually when you get that early lead that’s usually when I thrive. The inning where they got those runs, it was definitely disappointing."
Wood said he pitched to Jordan Zimmerman differently in the four-run fourth inning than he would have had he not been facing the opposing pitcher. Wood walked Dan Uggla on four pitches as he tried to make the former Brave swing at a bad pitch. With the bases loaded to Zimmerman and a 3-0 count, Wood battled back with two strikes.
"You work it back to full count and it’s one of those things where [if] that’s one of their other eight guys you might mix in something else there once you work it back to full count," said Wood. "But [to the pitcher] you throw the fastball and play the odds. Zimmerman ended up getting a knock and you have to tip your cap to him."
Zimmerman’s single scored three runs and effectively ran Wood from the game. Wood threw 100 pitches and his record went to 1-1 on the season with a 4.03 ERA.
When Wood left the game after just five innings of work, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez sent a reliever to the mound that was a bit unusual. Trevor Cahill entered the game in the sixth inning and made his first relief appearance of the season.
As odd as it was for Cahill to be pitching in relief, it was made even stranger because he was supposed to be on the mound Friday as the Braves’ starter. After throwing two innings — he allowed four earned runs and gave up six hits — he won’t make his scheduled start to begin the weekend.
Gonzalez wouldn’t tip his hand, but acknowledged that someone would have to be promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett.
"We’ll wait and probably make a decision on Thursday," said the Braves skipper on a starting pitcher for Friday’s game versus the Reds. "Some time tomorrow we’ll let you guys know who’s going to pitch on Friday. Obviously we’re going to need one."
The odds-on favorite is Mike Foltynewicz, who has a 2.08 ERA in four starts with Gwinnett. He has 30 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings and 10 walks. He is scheduled to pitch for Gwinnett on Friday, so moving down to Turner Field instead of Triple-A would only change locale, it wouldn’t affect his days of rest or routine at all.
Contrary to popular belief prior to the season, it’s not the Braves’ bats that are causing strife early on, it’s the pitching.
Atlanta scored four runs on eight hits Wednesday, and that was a day after scoring 12 runs on 17 hits. In the first game of the series, the Braves won with eight runs on 13 hits. When a team scores 24 runs on 38 hits over three games (an average of eight runs per game and 12.7 hits), you’d expect them to take most series.
That wasn’t the case as the Nationals took two of three from the Braves.
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski stayed hot with a 1-for-4 showing with two RBI. With that hit he extended a hitting streak to 12 games. Since he’s played in just 12 games this year, that means he’s hit safely in every game he’s played in 2015.
Pierzynski’s batting average actually fell on Wednesday to .422. But don’t confuse that drop in a cooling off period. Over his last 30 plate appearances (seven games), he’s 13 for 25 (.520) with three doubles and nine RBI.
Freddie Freeman went 2 for 4 in the loss and extended a streak of his own. He’s now had multiple hits in four straight games. Freeman is hitting 10 for 17 (.588) with four doubles during the span.