After managing a meager two hits last night against the Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann, Atlanta laid another egg tonight, scraping together a mere five base-knocks against Dan Haren. Haren, who had done his best impersonation of a little league pitching machine though his first five start, looked more like Cy Young tonight, baffling Braves' hitters for eight innings of five-hit ball.
Kris Medlen started for Atlanta and was a little rocky, allowing a leadoff double to Denard Span. A wild pitch quickly moved the Nats' leadoff runner up 90 feet and Steve Lombardozzi drove him in with a single to right. Medlen would get out of the inning without any further damage, but wasn't out of trouble for long.
The second inning started much the same as the first one, with a leadoff double for the Nationals. This time it was from Adam LaRoche (aside: Dear Chipper, maybe give your buddy hitting advice *after* he leaves town next time) and the Nats quickly had a man in scoring position again. Anthony Rendon followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no one out. That brought up Wilson Ramos, who grounded back to Medlen. Meds managed to nail the lead runner, giving the Nats men at first and second. Dan Haren followed with a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. It looked like Medlen would get out of the inning when he coaxed a ground ball out of Span's bat, but Chris Johnson let the ball roll right past him. Two runs scored.
Johnson was justly given an error on the play, but it was mind-bogglingly changed to a double an inning later. Johnson's defense has been nothing short of abysmal in his time at third so far, and tonight was another reminder of that fact. Some metrics rated Johnson as the worst fielding third baseman in baseball last year, and it's not too much of a stretch to see why. Over the last three games, Johnson is also hitting 2-13, and he looked completely lost at the plate over the last few days. Those numbers, and his recent approach, are all signs that the career .282 hitter is coming back down to earth - quickly. It seems that it's time to go back to the platoon that worked so well for Atlanta at the beginning of the year.
Atlanta's only run of the night came when Dan Uggla hit a solo home run off of Haren in the 7th inning.
Medlen pitched out of trouble in the early innings but settled down nicely, tossing seven innings and striking out eight men. He should have only been charged with one earned run, but was instead hung with three.
Atlanta will welcome the Mets to Turner Field tomorrow for the first time all year. Mike Minor will start the series opener and will go up against Shaun Marcum. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 PM.