The Washington Nationals dropped the series opener to the Atlanta Braves 4-2. The bats were quiet, but defensive miscues cost the Nats a chance in the game.
The Washington Nationals came into the series opener against the Atlanta Braves having won six in a row, as well as ten straight road games. However, their defense let them down in this one, and inevitably cost them a chance at victory.
In the third inning, a miscommunication by Juan Soto and Trea Turner was followed by a throwing error from Bryce Harper. This allowed Ozzie Albies to score the eventual winning run, when he could’ve easily not been on base in the first place.
Unfortunately, it’s not entirely unexpected for Soto to have growing pains defensively. In his career, before coming to the majors to play left field full-time, he had only played seven games in left. So he still needs to get somewhat used to the new angle in the outfield.
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The Nationals still maintain the third best fielding percentage in the National League, so this shouldn’t be a recurring theme. We’ll put this one down to coming off the plane in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
But to stand a chance against the Braves offense the rest of this series, the Nats bats are going to have to do better than the two runs they put up in this one.
Rendon stays Nats’ hottest bat
Anthony Rendon is swinging the hottest bat in the lineup right now, with 13 hits in his last 10 games. On Thursday, he drove in his best buddy Turner twice. Once on a sac-fly and the other on a single to right-field.
The third-baseman is now hitting .272 with 17 RBI, which is the fourth most on the team behind Harper, Turner and Matt Adams. This is a total that should gradually increase with a prime spot in the lineup.
Even on the other side of the ball, he made a fantastic play on a sharp grounder by Tyler Flowers. This continues to highlight that if it weren’t for a certain Nolan Arenado, Rendon may have a shot at a gold glove. Once again he goes about his business quietly, and continues to be a key cog in the lineup.
Roark grinds through six and two-thirds
Despite only needing 98 pitches to get through 6.2 innings, Tanner Roark made hard work of a dangerous Braves lineup. His final line left a lot to be desired with seven hits, four runs, five walks and just three strikeouts.
Roark’s main issue was that he allowed the lead-off hitter to reach in five of the seven innings he started. And unfortunately for the Nationals, he couldn’t work out of jams every single time, resulting in his first outing that wasn’t a quality start since April 24th.
It’s tough to read too much into this outing, and is likely to be an exception facing a tough lineup. His next outing will be against the San Francisco Giants, who are 21st in baseball in runs scored, giving him an ideal opportunity to bounce back.
The Washington Nationals will look to bounce back from a rough night with Stephen Strasburg on the mound Friday. It won’t be easy against Mike Foltynewicz, but if the bats remain patient they could reclaim the NL East after the game.