ATLANTA - Adam LaRoche’s hitless streak is over. And you have to wonder how much of that is due to Chipper Jones.
LaRoche snapped an 0-for-26 skid with a single to left in the second inning tonight. This comes just hours after LaRoche sat down and studied tape with his good buddy and former Braves star Chipper Jones.
The Nationals first baseman’s leadoff single started a two-run inning, as the Nats strung together four straight singles off Braves righty Julio Teheran and grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Ian Desmond, Chad Tracy and Kurt Suzuki followed LaRoche’s single with ones of their own, the latter two of which plated runs.
LaRoche shot a fairly well-struck line drive just short of the track in left in his next at-bat. He might be on his way to getting out of a lengthy early-season slump.
Tracy, meanwhile, is 2-for-2 to start tonight’s game. I guess this Nats lineup just needed a lot more Chad Tracy.
Stephen Strasburg yet again is struggling to throw first-pitch strikes and work ahead in the count. He’s allowed five hits and walked three through four innings.
Strasburg continues to get crushed by Dan Uggla, who is 2-for-2 tonight and now is 11-for-22 in his career against the Nats’ ace.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that the Nats have notched nine hits off Teheran through four innings and the Braves have gotten eight baserunners of their own, it’s just a 2-2 game going to the fifth.
Why’s that? Well, a large factor is that both teams have had two runners thrown out on the bases.
Denard Span was picked off first base in the first inning (on a close play), Freddie Freeman was called out (on a close play) after diving back into first base following a first inning single, Chad Tracy was picked off second base when Stephen Strasburg failed to get a bunt down in the second and Uggla was gunned out at third base to end the fourth.
Not great baserunning tonight, but an entertaining game.
Update: Strasburg is all over the place today, but he’s somehow managed to allow just two runs through five innings.
The right-hander has now walked four, and 36 of his 80 pitches have been out of the zone. He’s allowed the leadoff hitter in each inning to reach base and has pitched out of the windup to just five hitters all game. Those five times were leading off each inning.
Strasburg has benefited from some sound defense and a few lucky breaks. He’s also been able to dial it up and get a big out when he’s needed it, like in the fifth when he pumped a 96 mph fastball by Justin Upton for strike three with two runners on.
But this is not the Stephen Strasburg Nats fans are used to seeing. His ERA this season is still a pretty impressive 3.22, but he’s allowing loads of baserunners and needing lots of deep counts to retire hitters.