Moments That Mattered: Clippard Cracks, Offense Flails



Early runs, anyone? Stephen Strasburg struggled in the first again, and had another start like the rest he has this season: lacking control and a good line score despite looking unimpressive. Adam LaRoche finally broke out of his slump by going 1-3 with a walk, but the Braves bullpen threw 3.2 perfect innings with a combined WPA of +48.3, and the Nationals lost to the Braves for the eighth straight time going back to last season.

Most Important Nationals Hit: Chad Tracy‘s game-tying single (+14.4%)

After Strasburg let up one run in the bottom of the first, the Nationals struck back. They began the second with four consecutive singles, the third of which was Tracy’s, knotting the game at one by scoring Adam LaRoche. The fourth was by Kurt Suzuki, which scored Ian Desmond. With runners on first and second and no outs, the Nats seemed to be in a good position to add to their lead, but Strasburg struck out and Tracy was picked off second before Denard Span struck out, ending the threat quickly.

Most Important Nationals Pitch: Justin Upton‘s RBI single (-8.7%)

Apr 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Justin Upton (8) reacts to striking out against the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Nationals 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Upton took advantage of Strasburg’s early mistakes. After a Jordan Schafer walk and stolen base, Upton drilled a single that scored the speedy Schafer and gave the Braves the lead with just one out. Another single nearly put runners at the corners but Freeman was thrown out in a very close play trying to get back to first, and Strasburg escaped with a Chris Johnson groundout.

Champ of the Game: Could it be? Yes! LaRoche (+7.3%) finally escaped his slump after working on film of his swing pre-game with close friend and former Braves legend Chipper Jones. For Atlanta, Schafer (+24.1%) was 1-1 with a run scored and three walks.

Chump of the Game: Tyler Clippard (-17.4%) took the loss, allowing a run in the one inning he pitched. Chris Johnson (-11.9%) came into the game with the NL batting lead, but went 0-4 with three strikeouts.