It's never a good thing when the only real positive news coming out of a game from one team's perspective is that a player who got hit by a pitch isn't seriously injured.
But that's about all the positive news I have for Nationals fans after this afternoon's 9-0 loss to the Braves, a game that caps off Atlanta's three-game sweep. That, and there's 150 games left to go.
Danny Espinosa needed to leave today's game after four innings because of a sore right wrist, the result of getting plunked by a Paul Maholm 88 mph fastball. X-rays on the wrist came back negative, however.
Manager Davey Johnson said that Espinosa would probably miss a game or two, but Espinosa wasn't so sure, saying he might wake up tomorrow feeling fine and be ready to play against the Marlins. Regardless, he was able to breathe a sigh of relief when he got the results of the X-ray.
"I'm very relieved," Espinosa said. "I wasn't too happy when I got hit. You get hit in the hand, the wrist, or something like that, you could break something. When I first got hit, I wasn't thrilled about it, so I'm relieved to find out it was just bruising and a little inflammation.
"It got worse (as the game went on). I thought it would calm down, but it just got worse. It started throbbing more, it got more and more swollen and got stiffer. That's when I decided to come out."
Espinosa said after yesterday's game that he didn't think the Braves were better than the Nationals. He repeated that message after today's loss, just 15 or so minutes after Atlanta put the finishing touches on its sweep.
"I still don't think that they're better than us," Espinosa said. "They're hot right now. They've come back on people, they're playing well. It doesn't last forever, so I'm not worried about it."
That message was echoed by Gio Gonzalez, who allowed seven runs in five innings today, resulting in his first loss of the season. It was also the most earned runs allowed by Gonzalez since he first put on a Nationals uniform.
"The Braves right now are running hot," Gonzalez said. "They're red-hot right now and you've got to give them the credit. They're a tough-hitting lineup and good rotation. Our job, as a pitcher, is you have to go out and (keep) that to a minimum, give these guys a chance to swing the bat, and I didn't do that today, obviously. I take the blame on this one 100 percent. I didn't give these guys a chance to swing it or do anything today."
Justin and B.J. Upton, the Braves' two biggest additions this offseason, combined to go 4-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and two walks today. Andrelton Simmons smacked a three-run homer in the fourth. Collectively, the Braves put up 12 hits and walked six times.
"Wasn't attacking the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "Leaving everything up and falling behind on a good hitting team, that's all it was - falling behind and giving these guys too much to come back (from).
"They're good. It's not shocking. It's no surprise to any one of us. ... You're not going to hold these guys for too long and our job is to keep them close as possible. I didn't do that today. Leaving the ball up, falling behind good hitters, and they made me pay for it.
"It's a good lineup. Hands down, it's a great lineup. But again, we have a great lineup, too. Just one of those things, just one of those battles. You never know, we might go into their house and sweep them."