LIVE: Braves vs. Nationals (showdown, part I)

The Braves will play their second home opener of the season, this time in Washington. Pictured: Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez (left) and Rafael Soriano. (AP photo)

The Braves will play their second home opener of the season, this time in Washington. Pictured: Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez (left) and Rafael Soriano. (AP photo)

The Braves will play their second home opener of the season, this time in Washington. Pictured: Nationals pitchers Gio Gonzalez (left) and Rafael Soriano. (AP photo)

WASHINGTON — Welcome to the first in a series of 19 measuring sticks between the Braves and Washington Nationals.

We shouldn’t overstate the importance of an early April series between the two favorites in the National League East. The season just started and the Braves and Nationals will face each other a bunch of times. But can anything be learned from this series in terms of how the match up?

When asked whether he viewed this series as an opportunity for the Braves to gauge themselves against the Nationals, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “We’re looking to try to win the series. It doesn’t matter how many times you play them. It doesn’t matter that it’s early April. You have to try to win every single game and every single series. What do we always preach: two out of three. It doesn’t change anything for me when you play them, or don’t play them.”

Rookie David Hale will be making only his third career start for the Braves. He’ll face Washington’s Jordan Zimmerman, who had been scratched from a scheduled start the day before in New York because of the flu. Hale will face a Nationals team that beat up on Mets’ pitching and ranks second in the National League with a .304 batting average and first with a .530 slugging percentage (five homers, nine doubles, one triple).

I had a chance to spend some time with the Nationals in New York and wrote a column for MyAJC.com, which is linked here.

This Nats team isn’t nearly as cocky as the one that went into 2o13 after a 98-win season the year before. They missed the playoffs and were beat up by the Braves (who won the season series 13-6).

Among the comments in the column was this admission from pitcher Stephen Strasburg: “Two years ago I think we kind of snuck up on other teams that didn’t expect anything out of us.”

There also was this from center fielder Denard Span: “To me, the target is on their [Braves’] backs. They’re the defending National League East champions. They won it. We didn’t win anything. We don’t deserve to be that team that everybody is hunting for.”

Is that true? The Nationals are the consensus favorite in the N.L. East.

What are your thoughts on the importance of this series and who should be considered the favorite. Also, I’ll be here to respond to questions and comments during the game.

Some recent ramblings, on demand . . .
— MyAJC ($): Nationals assumed too much in 2013 — but not now
— Blog: As Freeman powers Braves, Upton still searching for…anything
— MyAJC ($): B.J. Upton is under fire — and he knows it
— Blog: Tiger Woods out and Masters will take a hit
— MyAJC ($): Teheran does his part but Braves lose anyway
— Blog: Short take on Braves’ loss to Milwaukee
— Blog: LIVE: 5 questions going into Braves’ season
— MyAJC ($): Strong opener by Teheran would ease some Braves’ concerns
— MyAJC ($): Injuries means Braves have little margin for error
— MyAJC ($): NCAA needs to take the hint, start paying players
— Blog: Mike Mills’ song pushes Dale Murphy for Hall of Fame
— MyAJC ($): Did Dimitroff lose benefit of doubt after bad season?
— Blog: Dimitroff on Falcons, failure, his draft board and Umenyiora
— Blog: Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke
— MyAJC ($): SEC needs to go to nine-game schedule, eliminate cupcakes
— Blog: SEC needs to expand conference schedule (column preview)
— MyAJC ($): Richt has been tough, even if some haven’t noticed
— Blog: More arrests at UGA, and Herbstreit jumps Richt
— MyAJC ($):Georgia loses but Fox goes down swinging at NCAA

Reader Comments 0

101 comments
Kurula
Kurula

if that is all the offense this pitching needs to win, i'll take it all year long

Savdon
Savdon

According to the gametracker, Frandsen is sill at bat, with a 1-1 count.

POAD2013
POAD2013

PLEASE. all you CRY BABIES cheer for another team.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@POAD2013

I will continue to cheer for the Braves...........and I can cry all I want I am a fan....... a long suffering one to boot............but then you would know something about that being a Tech fan and all..have a good day crying police.

Kurula
Kurula

@AnsweredTHIS  I usually just shake my head because I can't think of a word good enough. 

Kurula
Kurula

The word "nasty" gets overused in baseball a lot. In regards to Kimbrell, it seems to undersell reality. 

UGADawgs
UGADawgs

Kimbrel is kinda good.  How about that Braves pitching this year!

POAD2013
POAD2013

not a bad start to the bottom of the 9th

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Well if we going to crush the Uptons for what they are not doing ( if not for the homer today) Gattis has to get in line as well and be ready to take his blog whipping!

Kurula
Kurula

@AnsweredTHIS  if i were an opposing pitcher, he would only see breaking balls. 

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Not sure who'll be coming in from bullpen. Maybe ... wait ... don't tell me .. I know this ...

Kurula
Kurula

Uggla=comeback player of the year. 

jschultz
jschultz moderator


Nationals have eight hits and four walks but have stranded eight.

POAD2013
POAD2013

I guess that STFU all you cry babies. That was some nice PITCHING.

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Wowza. Carpenter strikes out LaRoche, Zimmerman and Harper after allowing single and walk to open the inning.

Kurula
Kurula

wow. that was a great rally by carpenter. 

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

But our genius manager will never bring in the best closer in the world in the 8th, because pitching in the 8th is "a different animal" even for Kimbrel according to FrediG

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Here goes Carpenter about to give the lead back!

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

If FrediG bats BJ 2nd tomorrow, I would like to officially start a petition to fire FrediG.

Kurula
Kurula

Justin isn't much better, really. he has had 2 good stretches. the rest was little better than BJ. How many homers did Justin hit with runners on last year? 2 or 3? 

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Braves lead 2-1 in 8th. Each Upton brother today: 0-4 with 3 strikeouts.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

BJ has been in decline for 5 years now.. his stats prove that. 

UptownBravos
UptownBravos

This is worse than the McClouth. McClouth can say he was injured. BJ has been healthy. He is just not that good.

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

If FrediG bats him 2nd tomorrow, there are three possibilities.  

1. He is incredibly stupid.

2. He is crazy.

3. He is doing point spread, gambling, and getting paid by someone.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well NOT getting a bunt down means how do you bat BJ 2nd ?  They should bat him 9th, take a page out of tony larussa's play book !

UptownBravos
UptownBravos

I do believe the BJ Upton signing is going to be Wren's demise. TERRIBLE SIGNING!!!!!!

Kurula
Kurula

BJ still has so many moving parts to his swing, it's easy to see where his timing is messed up. 

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

And BJ? on base 0 times.  0-4 3K, sigh

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Jason Heyward has been on base 3 times (2 walks, hit batter)

FrediStupid
FrediStupid

David Hale 

2013: 11.0 IP 0.82 ERA 14SO

2014: 5.0 IP 0.00 ERA 4SO

Have we found the new Beachy?

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Hale done.  Schlosser in.

jschultz
jschultz moderator

Official ruling: Review was to confirm whether Desmond's hit was "live" ball. #Braves challenged. Review determined ball lodged in padding.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

Looks like the new CJ's bat is starting to warm up?!

POAD2013
POAD2013

That was a damn exciting 1/2 inning......

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

I dont want to jinx it............but the Braves might have some young studs who are ready to handle the pressure of a full season pitching?! I know it is early, but from what I have seen, they might just be ready!

jschultz
jschultz moderator

And now Desmond picked off. Could this work out any better for Braves.

Kurula
Kurula

one thing to say about the replay system is that it seems to have really removed a lot of tension between the umpires and managers. Bobby's ejection record is unbreakable. 


FrediStupid
FrediStupid

If the Braves win, it's in spite of FrediG's stupidity, continuing to bat BJ 2nd.