ATLANTA - The Nationals are 11-1 when scoring first this season. That’s pretty good.
When their opponents score first, the Nats have gone just 2-12. That’s not as good.
In their 13 losses this season, the Nats have scored a measly 1.5 runs per game. In their 13 wins, they’ve put up a more robust 5.8 runs per contest.
The lesson here: If you score more runs, you’re more likely to win games.
That stat about teams scoring first usually is more relevant in football, where a team taking a 7-0 lead is fairly significant. It’s a little surprising to see such dichotomy in the numbers when it comes to a baseball team scoring first, though.
A Nationals loss tonight would give the team its first losing month since August 2011.
The Nats notched above-.500 months throughout the entire course of last season, and were 17-10 in September 2011.
With a win tonight, that streak would continue. Another loss to the Braves and the Nats would drop to 13-14 in the month of April.
Gio Gonzalez and Tim Hudson will take the mound tonight here at Turner Field. Both starters have 2-1 records and identical 4.50 ERAs.
Gonzalez is coming off far and away his best start of the season, when he allowed one run on one hit over eight innings in a win over the Reds.
Hudson has allowed 15 hits and nine earned runs over his last two starts, spanning 10 innings. The veteran right-hander stymied the Nats back on April 13 at Nationals Park, surrendering just a single run on four hits over seven innings. He’s gunning for his 200th career win tonight.
The Nats have scored just seven runs in their four games against Atlanta this season. All but one of the games have been decided by two or fewer runs, but the Nats just haven’t done enough offensively and haven’t been able to close out wins.
“We definitely feel that we can play better,” Kurt Suzuki said last night. “That’s a good team over there but we feel that we’re better than what we’ve been showing. We just have to go, shake it off and on to the next one and get ready for tomorrow.”
Said Tyler Clippard: “It’s frustrating. They’ve beaten us four out of the four games we’ve played them. They’re at the top of our division. It’s not good to get a slow start off like that, especially against a division rival. But at the end of the day, it’s still April. We still feel confident as a ballclub. I know I do, and I think everybody else does.
“It’s just one of those things. You’ve just got to wake up tomorrow and know we’ve got to win the next two games, or however many games we’ve got against them. And by Thursday, all is good.”
Ryan Zimmerman has been added to the roster for high Single-A Potomac, kicking off his rehab assignment as he works back from a strained left hamstring. Zimmerman will play in the P-Nats’ game tonight and will wear No. 33.
If all goes well over the next couple of days, Zimmerman will rejoin the Nats in Pittsburgh and be ready to come off the DL on Friday.
Update: Jayson Werth (hamstring cramps/sore ankle) is out of the Nationals’ lineup tonight. Bryce Harper will play right field, with Tyler Moore playing left.
Adam LaRoche has been moved up to the cleanup spot after snapping out of his 0-for-26 slump.
For the Nats
CF Denard Span
2B Danny Espinosa
RF Bryce Harper
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
LF Tyler Moore
3B Chad Tracy
C Wilson Ramos
LHP Gio Gonzalez
For the Braves:
SS Andrelton Simmons
3B Chris Johnson
LF Justin Upton
1B Freddie Freeman
C Evan Gattis
2B Dan Uggla
CF B.J. Upton
RF Reed Johnson
RHP Tim Hudson