The Nationals didn’t play great baseball over the last three days.
They got outscored by the Braves 18-5, were outhit 29-16 and made four errors, and Atlanta turned those numbers into a three-game sweep in the first battle this season between these two National League East rivals.
Not surprisingly, however, the Nats are not concerned just yet.
“It’s just early,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Things happen for the best. We should’ve won the first one. We were right there on the second one. We just got waffled today. I don’t put too much stock in it.”
The positive news coming out of this afternoon’s 9-0 bludgeoning is that Danny Espinosa’s right wrist was not broken when he got hit by a Paul Maholm fastball in the second inning. Espinosa left the game after the fourth inning, but Johnson said tests ruled out anything too serious.
“Danny’s going to be all right,” Johnson said. “He had X-rays and the X-rays were negative, but he’ll probably miss a game or two.
“Just a tough day, but you’re never as bad as you look when you lose, never as good as you look when you win.”
Gio Gonzalez got thumped this afternoon, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits over five innings. The left-hander walked three, struck out three and served up two home runs, both in Atlanta’s four-run third inning.
“Just a good hitting lineup,” Johnson said. “You make bad pitches, you’re going to get hit. Threw a lot of pitches early. Can’t do that. ... He was leaving the ball up and when he’s at his best he’s using his fastball down on the knees with his good curveball and changeup. He was missing up all day. That’s where he got hurt. The ball’s belt high. Right over the middle. Good hitting lineup will do that.”
After Tim Hudson shut the Nats down over seven innings yesterday, Maholm did the same today, allowing just four hits and holding the Nats scoreless over 7 2/3 innings.
“He just spotting his fastball good, he’s got a good changeup, a variety of offspeed, cuts the fastball in to righties,” Johnson said. “He just pitched a good ballgame.
“We got behind real early and that makes it easier on him but he pitches a heck of a ballgame. Low pitch count, going late in the game, he used all his pitches, threw them all over. Makes it tough.”
Since the third inning of the first game of the series, the Nats managed just one run off Braves pitching. That’s one run in 25 innings for those of you who are math-challenged, like myself.
What can Johnson take out of this series? What did he learn about his team?
“I got some guys in to throw that I haven’t been using a whole lot,” Johnson said. “Some guys are starting to swing the bat a little bit better. But we’re not quite where we need to be, bullpen, pitching, the whole nine yards. It’s a whole lot of battles to win this war. One series, sometimes it’s just a wake-up call.”