The Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Braves on Wednesday night has to be several degrees more frustrating than their 10-2 defeat on Tuesday night for a couple reasons. First, Livan Hernandez battled Tim Hudson to a stalemate, with both pitchers leaving the game after seven innings and the game tied at two. That's a victory of sorts for the Nationals, who came into the night having handed Hudson just one loss in his career.
Second, Ryan Zimmerman got ejected by home-plate umpire Scott Barry in the eighth inning after spiking his bat and helmet following an inning-ending strikeout. Zimmerman had started walking to first base on a 3-1 slider, thinking he had drawn a walk from Johnny Venters. But Barry called the pitch a strike, and Zimmerman struck out on a foul tip. Manager Jim Riggleman, who was also tossed in the ensuing argument, said in his televised postgame interview that Barry thought Zimmerman was showing him up by throwing equipment. It should also be noted that Adam Dunn was thrown out of a game for tossing his helmet earlier this year, and at that point, Riggleman said it was understandable to toss the first baseman for the helmet throw. Zimmerman's display was worse.
But the main reason the Nationals' loss was so galling was because it was preventable. With a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, Alex Gonzalez hit a fly ball that fell between Adam Kennedy and Michael Morse, with the second baseman ducking out of the way at the last second as the ball fell in front of Morse. And in the ninth inning, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard gave up a hit and a walk before Jason Heyward lashed a 3-0 pitch up the middle to score Rick Ankiel and win the game.
To battle Hudson that well, only to lose a tight game with another mental mistake, it's got to be a bit galling for the Nationals. The Braves, who are now 44-16 at home, seem to have these games go their way more often than not this year. It's why they're thinking World Series, and the Nationals are playing out the season.