Nationals continue to frustrate Atlanta
The Washington Nationals have been labeled the doormats of the National League. Some how they seem to have Atlanta’s number. This season they have out pitched, out hit, and just plain out played the Braves.
Game 1 looked more than promising for the Braves. They called up pitcher James Parr to make his major league debut. Parr was great, throwing 6 shutout innings and allowing only 2 hits. His control was a little erratic as he walked 3 batters. It was his MLB debut so that is to be expected. Jeff Bennet and Julian Tavarez were the bridge from Parr to closer Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez struck out the side in the 9th to earn his 9th save and preserve a 2-0 Atlanta victory.
Jair Jurrjens took the hill for the Braves in game 2. He went 6 strong innings while allowing 6 hits and striking out 6. Jurrjens earned his 12th win of the season. Josh Anderson went 2-5 from the leadoff spot to lead the offense to an easy 10-5 victory. Casey Kotchman returned from his ailing mother’s bedside. He went 2-4 and seems to be settling down with the Braves. Kotchman was struggling ever since the trade and his bat would be a very nice boost to a struggling Atlanta offense.
Game 3 did not go so well for the Braves, as Mike Hampton served up meatballs left and right. Hampton allowed 4 home runs as he was tagged for 5 runs and 8 hits in 7 innings. The game was close until the normally reliable Mike Gonzalez blew the game by allowing 3 runs in the top of the 10th inning. Atlanta was not able to recover in the bottom half of the inning and fell 8-5.
Jo-Jo Reyes returned to the mound and pitched very well. Reyes went 6 innings, allowing 1 run and scattering 4 hits. This game turned into a marathon, going 14 innings. Eventually the Nationals pulled away with 3 runs in the 14th inning, shutting the door on the Braves. Atlanta has now lost consecutive extra inning games to the worst team in the National League. Chipper Jones went 3-6 to improve his average to .358 and get himself back in the race for the batting title with Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols.
Atlanta seems to have given up completely on a season that did not go their way. The fought through injury after injury and it has finally caught up to them. They have been out of the race for a while but they still need to play for pride and the future. Jo-Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton, and James Parr need to step up and try to make this season at least beneficial. Chipper Jones can still win the batting title and with a spike in home runs and runs batted in he can have an outside shot at the NL MVP Award. This would be something nice for a season that went completely wrong.
Atlanta gets a much-needed day off on Monday and will resume play on Tuesday against the Rockies. Aaron Cook (16-9) will face Jorge Campillo (7-7). Campillo has had recent troubles that could be attributed to a tried arm. Game 2 is scheduled to have Livan Hernandez (11-1) take on James Parr (1-0). Parr is coming off a very good debut and should try to improve. If Parr ends the season strong he will have a good shot at a rotation spot in spring training next year. The series finale will see Ubaldo Jimenez (10-12) face Jair Jurrjens (12-9). Jurrjens could also be suffering from a tried arm. A little rest would do him some good and may get him back into early season form.
By Ben Burrows
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