In a fitting end to a lousy weekend, the Nationals were unable to stop the Braves offense as Atlanta completed a three-game sweep, winning Sunday’s game by a score of 10-2.
Following the same script from the previous two games against the Braves, the Nationals fell behind early thanks to a disappointing start from left-hander Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave up three runs in the bottom of the first inning with the bulk of the damage coming on a two-run home run off the bat of everyone’s favorite Brave, Justin Upton.
Gonzalez struggled again in the second inning, giving up three more runs thanks to an RBI double by Jason Heyward and a two-run homer by Freddie Freeman, giving the Braves a 6-0 lead. Gonzalez gave up six runs on nine hits over six innings of work while striking out six and walking four.
It didn’t help that the Nationals were unable to do anything with the bat against Braves starter Aaron Harang, who gave up just one run on five hits while striking out five over six innings of work.
The Nationals scored their first run of the game in the top of the fifth inning when Kevin Frandsen scored on an RBI ground out by Jose Lobaton. The Nationals would score one more run in the top of the ninth on Adam LaRoche‘s third big fly of the season, but not before the Braves scored four more runs of their own against Nationals reliever Ross Detwiler in the bottom of the eighth inning.
On the bright side, Sunday was another good day for Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper, batting from the two-hole, went 2-2 with two walks, improving his batting average to .310, miles ahead of where it was just a few days ago.
Other than that, this was a pretty lousy weekend in every way for the Nationals. Not only did the team lose three games against it’s only true competitor for the National League East crown, but it also lost two key players in Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span. The good news is it’s over and the Nationals will not have to face the Braves until June 19 when Atlanta returns to Nationals Park.
The Nationals are now 7-5 on the season with all five losses coming against the Braves, so it will certainly be a breath of fresh air for the Nationals to go several weeks without having to worry about Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel. That being said, if the Nationals want to win back the division title, they will have to find a way to beat the Braves, even in the wonderful atmosphere of Turner Field.
For now, however, the Nationals need to worry about the task at hand as the team visits Miami tomorrow night to take on the Marlins for the second time this season. The Nationals swept the Marlins last week and would strongly benefit from a good series against a team that is riding a seven-game losing streak.
Bryce Harper has continued to grow as a player and improve upon his career year in 2013 when he won the Home Run Derby. Watch as he tries to defend his crown by getting your Home Run Derby tickets today.