It happened again. Despite the fact that the Atlanta Braves haven't been playing all too well as of late and despite the fact that the Washington Nationals had recently completed a surge to the top of the NL East, the Braves still went into Nationals Park and picked up their 6th win in 7 tries this season against the Nationals, and the 19th in the past 26.
Gavin Floyd and Jordan Zimmermann traded scoreless innings for the first 3 innings of the contest. The scoring started in the 4th, and the Braves' rally was kicked off by a Freddie Freeman single with 1 out. This was followed by Evan Gattis spraying a hit to left field, then Jason Heyward blooping one to dead center. The 1-out rally culminated with Chris Johnson squirting a grounder past the middle of the Nationals' infield for a 2-run RBI that drew first blood for Atlanta.
From that point on, Gavin Floyd continued on merrily, delivering what was by far his best pitching performance of the season so far. There was even a moment where in the 5th where Floyd got a strikeout and began to head to the dugout, thinking that it was a job well done on another 3 outs. It was a job well done, but it was only the 2nd out of the inning. Floyd eventually induced a a grounder out of Danny Espinosa to end the inning.
Floyd would cruise through the next inning and into the 7th. He threw one pitch to Jason Werth to start the inning. That would be the last pitch Floyd threw for the night, because immediately after throwing the pitch, his elbow began to swell to the point where it looked like there was a gnarly-looking flesh-colored golf ball there instead of an elbow.
The initial diagnosis was posterior swelling in the elbow. The swelling turned out to be a result of a fractured olecranon for Floyd, which is basically a fancy way to say that he broke his elbow. Definitely devastating news considering that the man just returned to baseball after Tommy John surgery.
This turn of events led to Anthony Varvaro entering the game. After giving up a double to Jayson Werth, Varvaro managed to get the next 3 batters to ground out to Andrelton Simmons to end the inning on 3 consecutive grounders.
After the Nationals failed to bring in a runner in scoring position, the Braves had a chance to do so in the 8th. Unlike Washington, they succeeded in weird fashion and again, it was Chris Johnson who delivered the hit to bring in Freddie Freeman for Atlanta's 3rd run of the night.
I said it was weird because Johnson's hit deflected off of the knee of Jerry Blevins (who relieved Jordan Zimmermann after 7 IP, 6 Hs allowed, and 2 ERs allowed) and into left field, which allowed Freddie Freeman to easily score from 3rd. That type of play is a prime example of the type of bounces that always seem to go the Braves' way when the other team involved is the Washington Nationals.
After Jordan Walden sat the Nats down 1-2-3 in the 8th and the Braves failed to bring in another insurance run in the 9th, it was time for Craig Kimbrel to be unleashed upon the nation's capital. A flyout, a walk, and 2 strikeouts later, the Braves got their 37th win of the season to get back to a half-game behind Washington in the NL East.
Of course, the damper on the victory is that Gavin Floyd once again has a severe elbow issue. That is extremely unfortunate and it doesn't appear that Floyd will be pitching any time soon. But the obvious positive of the night is that the Braves seemingly can't stop and won't stop beating the Nationals.