Washington Nationals Recap: Escobar leaves with injury as Nats fall 8-4 to the Atlanta Braves
By Matt Weyrich
Tempers flared in Atlanta as the Washington Nationals dropped their sixth straight to the Braves in a 8-4 game that was not nearly as close as the score may depict. The Nationals had four errors and only five hits in a laugher against their division rival. Eric Stults (1-1, 4.03 ERA) earned his first win of the season while Doug Fister (1-1, 3.28) took the loss. Nationals’ third baseman Yunel Escobar left the game with a hand injury after Andrelton Simmons slid into him at third base during the fifth inning
Fister went 5.2 innings, giving up five runs (four earned runs) on 10 hits, waling two batters and striking out three. He had pitched a solid game going into the sixth inning, having scattered seven hits giving up only two runs. The Braves then finally got to him, breaking the game open with a two-run home run by Kelly Johnson. That was followed by an RBI groundout by Eric Young Jr. The groundout scored second baseman Jace Peterson, who reached third on an error by Fister on a pickoff throw to first, his second of the game.
Bryce Harper earned his first fielding error of the season in the first inning when he bobbled a ball in the grass, allowing Freddie Freeman to stretch a single into a double. Ian Desmond earned his league-leading 9th error of the year later in the seventh inning, allowing a groundball right between his legs that eventually led to a run scored by Andrelton Simmons.
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Emotions were running high in the fifth inning when Simmons slid hard into third base, knocking Nationals’ third baseman Yunel Escobar‘s glove off his hand and causing him to exit the game. Freddie Freeman struck out in the next at-bat and was immediately ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Simmons’ next plate appearance came in the bottom of the 7th, where Nats’ reliever Rafael Martin promptly hit the shortstop on the first pitch. Reserve outfielder Jonny Gomes of the Braves was ejected while in the dugouts, and both teams received warnings. The retaliation ultimately came back to bite the Nationals as Simmons would score following the Desmond error and sacrifice fly by catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
The Nationals’ offense was not able to string many hits together, but caught a glimpse of hope in the top of the seventh. During that inning, with the score 5-1 Atlanta, Stults was knocked out of the game by a Danny Espinosa walk followed a single by Wilson Ramos. Reliever Cody Martin hit pinch hitter Reed Johnson to load the bases with one out. Although Denard Span would hit a sacrifice fly to score one run, that was all the Nats could muster. Ryan Zimmerman struck out to end the inning in the next at-bat. In the 8th, Dan Uggla hit an RBI-triple to right-center field that scored Harper, who then made his way home on a fielding error by third baseman Alberto Callaspo.
-Harper earned his MLB-leading 19th walk of the season, raising his on-base percentage to .424
-Escobar’s hand injury is not considered serious, and is expected to return within one or two days
-AJ Cole has reportedly been called up from triple-A Syracuse to make his Major League debut against Atlanta tomorrow night in place of the injured Max Scherzer. He will be going up against Braves pitcher Julio Teheran. Cole will be the fourth Nationals pitcher to make their big league debut this season.
–Anthony Rendon was scratched from the lineup in his rehab game at double-A Harrisburg due to tightness in his knee. The Nats decided to rest him for a second straight day because of the cold weather in Pennsylvania: