Surprise! More losing to the Nationals! The Braves lost two of three in the series and have dropped six of the eight games with Washington this year. Losing a series against a division rival can be tough to swallow, but I find it depressing that at least one of the games was winnable.
Atlanta had ugly defense in the first game and that led to two unearned runs against Randall Delgado, but they fought back to tie the score on an Andrelton Simmons home run only for Chad Durbin to serve up a first-pitch homer the very next inning. Braves hitters were 3-for-18 RISP in the two losses.
Of the three starters in the series, the one I did not expect to win was Mike Minor. He didn't pitch great - five walks in five innings - but pitched well enough after falling behind to allow the offense to rally against Stephen Strasburg and get the win. Strasburg had to leave the game in the fourth because of heat-related dizziness.
The struggles of Brian McCann and Dan Uggla continue. McCann was hitless in eight at-bats and is now hitting .230 on the season. Uggla didn't fare much better, recording only one hit in the series and finished a miserable June hitting a woeful .160 for the month. I certainly don't remember McCann struggling this much, but Uggla went through a similar slide last year and turned it around midseason. We can only hope both he and McCann turn their fortunes around soon; they've been black holes in the lineup for too long.
Jason Heyward was hitless in the first game, but earned three hits over the other two games to raise his average to .274. He hit .348 for the month of June with six home runs; he had hit six combined between April and May. Let's hope he stays hot into July and the rest of the season.
Also hitting well in the series was Freddie Freeman. He now has a six-game hitting streak with three-multi-hit games to raise his average to .266. In addition to the streak, he also has hits in nine of his last 10 games. He's recorded 10 hits during the streak, four for extra bases.
As for the bullpen, no one pitched horribly with the exception of Jonny Venters. Two more runs allowed and his ERA is up to 4.40. He's allowed five hits in his last four outings and hasn't had a clean inning of work since June 16, eight appearances ago. The Braves need the old Jonny back now if the bullpen is going to be a strength again.
After giving up five runs in his first three games this year, Anthony Varvaro has not allowed a run in his last three games which include two games in this series covering four innings. He struck out five.
Atlanta will try to get back on the winning track against the visiting Cubs starting Monday.