Late game Miscues Cost Atlanta Braves Game against Nats’

VENICE, FLORIDA - MARCH 17: Bryce Elder of the Atlanta Braves poses for a photo during Photo Day at CoolToday Park on March 17, 2022 in Venice, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
VENICE, FLORIDA - MARCH 17: Bryce Elder of the Atlanta Braves poses for a photo during Photo Day at CoolToday Park on March 17, 2022 in Venice, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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After clinching a spot in the playoffs for the 5th straight year, the Atlanta Braves look to continue to win games and try and catch up with or even surpass the Mets.

The Atlanta Braves come into Wednesday’s game amidst a fantastic September, including a current 5-game win streak which has helped them remain one game behind the Mets in the NL East race.

After a series sweep against the Phillies earlier this week, the Braves look to sweep their second straight series, this one against the Washington Nationals. On the mound for the Braves Wednesday was Bryce Elder who was brought up to make his 7th start of the season.

Elder is fighting for a spot on the postseason roster and had a great start in showcasing himself, starting the game with 3 strikeouts in the first inning.

The Braves offense did not hesitate to take the lead in the first inning, thanks to a bit of help from the Nationals. Ronald Acuña Jr. started the game with a two-strike laser into left field, continuing his great homestand. Matt Olson came to the plate two outs later and drew a walk, a good sign for Olson who has been struggling with chasing balls out of the zone.

With runners on first and second and two-outs, William Contreras delivered a batted ball that could pass off as a bunt. Despite the weak contact, Contreras showcased his athleticism and speed getting down the baseline quickly, forcing Espino to rush his throw, resulting in him throwing the ball well over first base into the outfield, scoring Ronald Acuña Jr.

Good teams take advantage of the mistakes of their opponents, and the Braves did just that, going into the 2ndinning with a 1-0 lead.

The Braves offense kept it going with another run in the 2nd inning. Robbie Grossman singled to right field with 1 out and advanced to second due to a weak groundball from Vaughn Grissom. Ronald Acuña Jr. followed this by smacking a pitch on the inside corner into the right-center gap for what should have been a double, but he tripped rounding first base.

After only needing 8 pitches to get through the 2nd inning, Elder had a far more laboring 3rd inning, needing 27 pitches to get through the inning. Despite the long inning and having runners on first and third, Elder escaped with no runs, maintaining the shutout.

The Nationals once again threatened with first and third, this time with 1-out after a HBP (which should have been ruled a strike) and single into center set up the Nationals with runners in scoring position. Nationals’ outfielder Lane Thomas drove in the Nats’ first run of the game via a sac fly to right field.

The Nationals kept applying pressure on Elder with a double into the right field corner, putting runners on third and second base with 2-outs. Former Padre Luke Voit came up in this pivotal moment in the game and would have had a 2-RBI single up the middle if it weren’t for a great play by Vaughn Grissom, who was shifted to the left of second base.

Bryce Elder was brought out for the sixth after a very long fifth inning and got 2 outs before being pulled. Elder had another good start, throwing 5.2 innings, giving up only 4 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 6.

Tyler Matzek was chosen to get the final out in the 6th inning, which he did via a bloop pop-out to Dansby Swanson.

Atlanta smacked a pair of back-to-back line drive singles Michael Harris II and Eddie Rosario with 2 outs, setting up Robbie Grossman with runners at the corners in the seventh inning. Robbie Grossman was unable to deliver, striking out swinging to end the inning.

Matzek was brought out for the 7th inning and faced 2 batters before being pulled. He walked the leadoff batter and got the next hitter to groundout, leaving a runner on first with 1 out for Jesse Chavez. Chavez, who has been super solid for the Braves through his two stints with the Braves in 2022, gave up a 2-run homer to Joey Meneses, giving the Nationals a 3-2 lead, their first lead of the series.

Chavez retired the next two batters, ending the top of the 7th with the Nationals leading late in the game.

The Braves needed base runners and got that with a lead-off single from Vaughn Grissom. Ronald popped up, bringing Dansby to the plate for the Braves in a pivotal spot. Dansby had a great at-bat, seeing 11 pitches before striking out on the 12th in a 3-2 count. Vaughn was stealing on the pitch and was thrown out after the strikeout, giving the Nationals the unconventional double play to end the inning.

The Braves continued threatening the Nats’ pitching in the 8th inning. Austin Riley led off with an infield single. Riley moved to scoring position with a William Contreras 1-out walk, bringing Harris to the plate.

Harris delivered a hard-hit groundball up the middle, doing what the Braves needed from him. Harris’ second hit of the game did not score but instead stood as a demoralizing blow.

A base running miscue between Contreras and Riley on Harris’ ground ball resulted in Contreras being caught between second and third base, leading to the 2nd out of the inning. Rosario followed all this with a well-hit line drive that was hauled in by the Nationals’ second baseman for the  final out of the inning

After all the mistakes the Braves made Wednesday, they still had a chance to come back down only one run in the bottom of the ninth. Despite strong at-bats from Grissom and Acuña, Nationals’ closer Kyle Finnegan only needed to face 3 Braves hitters to get the save and prevent a Braves sweep.

Wednesday’s loss really stings, especially after a great start from Bryce Elder.  With the number of games left in the season dwindling down and that gap between the Mets and Braves in the division still present, every game becomes increasingly more important.

Next. Back to the Postseason. dark

Atlanta will travel to Philadelphia for their final series against the Phillies in 2022. Atlanta will need to be just as good as they were against Philadelphia earlier this week to maintain solid grounding in the NL East race.