The Natspos rode a stirring comeback win in the Home Run Derby by local hero Bryce Harper, and returns from the DL of stalwarts Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman to a second half opening 8-5 loss to the visiting Atlanta Braves last night. Which just goes to show you how important a glorified round of batting practice and rusty veterans are when the real games are on.
Snit went all (experi-)mental in his lineup construction, batting Ronald Acuna, Jr. in the lead-off spot, and was rewarded when Acuna Matata went 3-4 with a walk, a homer, scored three times, and had two stolen bases. Ozzie Albies batted second, and in his only plate appearance doubled the RAJa home, and stole third and scored on a Freddie Freeman ‘productive out’ that likely made the SVU of the DC Police Dept. put Joe Simpson on their Watch List. But, Ozzie tweaked his hammy somewhere on the play, and was removed for Folk Hero Charlie Culberson.
The Gnats got on the board in the bottom of the first, when Adam Eaton and Harper pulled off a double steal, but Anibal Sanchez limited further damage. Things looked dire in the second when Sanchez loaded the bases with one out, but he wriggled off the hook, striking out Trea Turner and retiring Harper on a groundout. The Gnats tied it up in the third, when Sanchez surrendered a solo shot to Matt Adams.
But the Braves got off the mat (Matt?) in the fourth, when Kurt Suzuki doubled with one out off Strasburg, and was driven home by Johan Camargo. The Braves knocked Strasberg out of the box in the fifth, when Our Man Ronald led off with his second double, Folk Hero dropped a bunt single down, and Fab Five Freddie doubled both of them home. Nick Markakis did Simpson no favors with the DCPD with a sac fly to make it 6-2. After Camargo singled to end Strasburg’s night after 4 2/3, Strasburg and Max Scherzer were seen woofing at each other in the dugout. Maybe SuperMax just needs a change of scenery to a winning team? Look into it AA!
The Dark Lord, Jr. (Turner – since he kills the Bravos more than Chase Utley ever did), homered off Sanchez in the bottom of the fifth to make it 6-3. But Folk Hero got it back in the top of the sixth with a two out solo shot of his own. Sanchez went out and worked the sixth, and made it through unscathed. Anibal wasn’t particularly sharp, needing 112 pitches to go six, surrendering four other hits in addition to the two solo shots, and walking three. But, he was sharp enough, and that’s nothing but found money at this point. Jesse Biddle came in and worked a quick clean 7th.
In the eighth, Acuna, Jr. (running out of nicknames for him, that’s how good a game he had) homered for the Braves final run. Biddle came out for the bottom of the frame, and promptly allowed a lead-off single to Anthony Rendon and followed that up with a two run rally killer to Juan Soto, showing us that we haven’t cornered the market on exciting, impossibly youthful outfielders. But Jesse buckled down and held the score there at 8-5, which allowed Snit to send out A.J. Minter to pick up a save in the ninth. Win, win, win. Let’s do it again tomorrow.