So, this series wasn't a fun one. Even with the zany lineup that the Nationals put out for the 3rd game, they only put that lineup out there because they took care of business and beat our Braves in the first 2 games of the series, clinching the NL East title in the process. However, the Braves didn't get swept, so I guess that's a positive?
The first game really should've been an omen that this was just Washington's year: Stephen Strasburg, a man who is an excellent pitcher against every team in the National League other than the Atlanta Braves, had a great night on Monday. He pitched 7 innings of shutout ball, and even added an RBI to help his team's cause. Meanwhile, the Braves offense didn't wake up until it was far too late, and it was one of those frustrating nights where the team had just as many ejections as they had runs: 2.
The next night was the big night for the Nationals, as they put the Braves out of their misery (as far as the NL East is concerned. The Braves are still barely alive in the Wild Card race) in typical fashion, for Atlanta at least: They shut out the Braves, 3-0. Aaron Harang pitched very well on the night, but he made a big mistake, and Ian Desmond crushed that mistake into the night sky of Atlanta for the game's first two runs. David Carpenter aided the Nats in getting their 3rd run thanks to a wild pitch. The offense showed no signs of life, and Washington ended the night by flooding the visitor's dugout with champagne and other alcoholic beverages after clinching the division.
Clearly reeling from the wild celebrations from the previous night, Matt Williams decided to give all of his regulars the day off and decided to use a B-Team, and managed the game as if it was more of a Fall Training game instead of a regular season contest. The Nationals even got into the lead first, as Steven Souza got his first career home run after absolutely destroying a changeup from Alex Wood. Fortunately, that was Wood's only mistake of the night, as he continued to be one of the lone bright spots for the Braves in the 2nd half of the season. Eventually, the Braves found a way to succeed with the bases loaded, as a Christian Bethancourt single eventually turned into a 3-run scoring play for the Braves. After Bethancourt's grounder bounced off of the glove of the first baseman and allowed the runners in scoring position to score, some lazy/bad defense resulted in Jason Heyward scoring from 1st base and Bethancourt eventually making it to 3rd base. The 3 runs on that one play ended up being enough for the Braves to pick up the victory, sparing them the blushes that would have come from losing their 6th straight game and being victimized by a team of mostly AAA players.
It's gotten really bad for the Braves, and the proof is that there was relief when the Braves managed to not get swept by a team that they used to have no problem beating. In fact, the only win came when the Nationals lifted their foot off the pedal and went into cruise control for Getaway Night. This series wasn't about the present, as much as it was about the future; For the Nationals, they get to have the pleasure of spending these next couple of weeks getting ready for the challengers who will confront them in the Postseason. For the Braves, it seems like everyone with a Tomahawk across their chest is beginning to think about what 2015 may hold for the team, which is sure to be an extremely important one for the club.