Tonight was the culmination of the series that broke the Nats’ backs. They were swept by the Braves again, moving Atlanta to 6-0 in D.C. They trail by 15.5 games in the division, officially a deficit no team has ever overcome. The Nationals showed a slight change from where they were in the first game of this series, but not nearly enough. After an eerily similar Justin Upton home run gave the Braves a 3-2 lead, they were able to respond and tie the game. However, they would blow the tie in the next half-inning. Despite trailing by three in the ninth, they were able to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate. However, the Nats went 0-3 with a walk after the first two batters reached against Craig Kimbrel. The Nats’ season is dead; may it rest in peace. The cause of death is clear: critical offense failure. The Nats must now win for dignity or lose for draft position, but this team is too good and too proud to tank. At six games under .500 now, they should finish the season around the even mark. Even though I am declaring the season to be dead, that certainly does not mean one should stop following or cheering for the Nats. This season didn’t go the way they wanted either, and they certainly deserve the fans’ support. The definition of the damning title of “fair-weather fan” is one who only supports a winning team. The level of support for the Nats should be unchanged, and even tough nights like tonight are much less tough with lower expectations.
Aug 5, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth (28) reacts after striking out during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Most Important Nationals Hit: Jayson Werth‘s home run (+25.4%)
The Nationals were getting perfect game’d by Kris Medlen until there were two outs in the fourth inning. Then Bryce Harper drew a walk, and Werth delivered the Nats’ first hit of the night into the bleachers in right field. The NL Player of the Month has not cooled down in August, going 9-16 (.523) with one home run, two RBI, and four runs scored. He’s just the opposite of the rest of the team, however, that has averaged just three runs per game in the month.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Jason Heyward‘s RBI single (-27.6%)
The Nats looked like they were going to keep this game tied in the top of the eighth and give themselves a chance to take the lead before the ninth, but the Braves shattered those plans with a two-out rally. Andrelton Simmons doubled off of Fernando Abad, who then walked Joey Terdoslavich. Heyward singled to score Simmons, giving the Braves a 4-3 lead. Next up, Justin Upton doubled and scored Terdoslavich and Heyward. Trailing by three with six outs to go, the Nats were all but cooked then.
Champ of the Game: Werth (+36.6%) was the core of the Nats’ offense again, going 2-3 with his home run, a walk, two runs scored, and two RBIs. Upton (+40.3%) played the exact same role for the Braves and did just a little bit more, going 3-4 with a walk, a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs.
Chump of the Game: Ian Krol (-44.0%) only allowed one earned run on two hits and a walk, but was in the game as all three runs scored to give the Braves their big lead. Medlen (-17.4%) was pretty good, allowing just three hits and a walk in seven innings, but he allowed three runs thanks to Werth’s homer and blew Atlanta’s first two leads.