ATLANTA - The Nationals have now retired 29 of the last 30 Braves hitters to come to the plate.
Dan Haren has faced just one over the minimum through three crisp innings tonight. Strangely enough, the only batter to reach base during this 30-batter stretch was tonight’s Braves starter, Kris Medlen, who Haren walked on five pitches.
Outside of that meeting with Medlen, Haren’s been absolutely cruising. He’s needed just 30 pitches to get through his three innings so far, and 20 of those pitches have been strikes.
He’s struck out three, including reigning National League Player of the Month Justin Upton.
Haren has clearly been able to build off his last outing, in which he allowed just two runs over six strong innings against a quality Reds lineup. Haren’s been able to keep the ball down in the zone and mix his pitches well. None of the balls that have been put in play by the Braves have been struck all that well.
Offensively, the Nats didn’t take long to get things going tonight, getting on the board two batters into the ballgame.
Denard Span led off the top of the first with a double to right, and after a wild pitch moved Span to third, Steve Lombardozzi singled him in.
Span accounted for the other two Nats runs so far tonight by doubling down the left field line, past third baseman Chris Johnson. Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rendon both came in to make it a 3-0 Nats lead. The play was originally ruled an error on Johnson, but a scoring change has made it a double and given Span two RBIs.
LaRoche, by the way, has reached base in both plate appearances tonight, doubling in the second inning and walking in the third.
He might be starting to come out of his lengthy funk.
Update: Jayson Werth has left tonight’s game in the fifth inning. Roger Bernadina pinch-hit for Werth with two outs in the fifth and will remain in the game in right field.
Werth had missed the last two games with a sore ankle and hamstring cramps. He said prior to tonight’s game that his ankle was still a bit stiff, but he took batting practice and declared himself good to play tonight.
It’s started to rain a bit here at Turner Field, so it’s possible that the conditions factored into the decision to pull Werth from the game. Regardless, the Nats will have a new cleanup hitter for the rest of tonight’s contest.
The Nats lead 3-0 after five innings.