Nationals Try to Salvage One Game Against Braves
The Atlanta Braves have all but clinched the NL East and the Washington Nationals are achingly close to locking down a Wild Card berth in the National League playoffs. Nothing is guaranteed, especially with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves in town. The final game of the three game series is Sunday afternoon.
TV: 1:38 p.m. ET, TBS, FS South (Atlanta), MASN (Washington); LINE: Braves -114; O/U: 10 Under -120.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Braves LH Max Fried (16-5, 4.02 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Anibal Sanchez (8-8, 4.04)
The Braves moved closer to the National League East title and aim for a three-game sweep Sunday. In the process of Saturday’s 10-1 victory, Atlanta lost a key bench piece. Charlie Culberson was hit in the face with a pitch. The infielder/outfielder took a fastball to his right cheek trying to bunt in the seventh inning. He left the field on a cart and Braves manager Brian Snitker was tossed as the umpire called the pitch a strike. The series of events led a fight at the bat rack. Atlanta responded with nine runs in three innings to drop its magic number to four.
Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies recorded his fourth consecutive multi-hit day. He went 3-for-4 at the plate. The 2nd sacker finished with two doubles and is 13-for-27 with two homers as well as six RBI’s during his current six-game hitting streak. Left fielder Nick Markakis added four hits in his second game back for Atlanta. He came back hot as a pistol after missing seven weeks with a fractured left wrist. Since returning he is 6-for-9 with three RBI’s.
The Nationals lost for the seventh time in their past 10 games. They are 1-5 against Atlanta in that span. The Nats’ got two hits from center fielder Victor Robles. Third baseman Anthony Rendon earned his 118th RBI of the season in Saturday’s defeat. Washington’s bullpen completely imploded after Culberson was hit. They allowed nine runs, eight hits and issued five walks in the final three innings. They saw its lead over the Chicago Cubs for the top NL wild card spot sliced to 1 1/2 games.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Max Fried takes the bump for the Braves. Fried looks to rebound after one of his roughest outings of the season Tuesday in Philadelphia. He allowed four homers, three in the first inning, and surrendered five runs on seven hits over five innings. He lost for the first time since July 6th. The young lefty had only given up more than three earned runs once in his previous seven starts. He had a 2.90 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 40-1/3 innings during the streak. Fried is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts against the Nationals this season. He dominated Washington on Sept. 5th in Atlanta. Fried allowed just one hit, no walks, and struck out nine over seven shutout innings.
The Nationals‘ have a team record of 14-13 and the Under coming out on top at 15-12 when Sanchez is on the mound. Sanchez has allowed two earned runs or fewer in three of his past four starts. Overall he has an ERA almost a run higher (4.55) in the second half than he compiled before the All-Star break (3.66). The crafty veteran suffered a tough loss Tuesday at Minnesota. He allowed just two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in seven innings. It was better than his Sept. 4th outing against the New York Mets in which he gave up seven runs on eight hits over five innings. Sanchez is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in four starts this season against the Braves. He went 7-6 with a 2.83 ERA a season ago for Atlanta.
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The Dart Throw: Braves 7, Nationals 2