For the first time since 1988, two teams in baseball have gotten off to an 0-9 start, and unfortunately, the Braves are one of those teams. Atlanta's woeful start to the 2016 season continued as they suffered a 6-2 defeat and four-game sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals.
As usual, there was a fleeting moment of joy for the Braves as they got off to an early lead in this one. Left fielder Jace Peterson (!) led off the third inning with a single, and after Julio Teheran moved him over with a bunt, Nick Markakis eventually drove in Peterson with a grounder to left field to make it 1-0. I'm asking you to cherish that moment, since that was the high point of the day for the Braves, and it was all downhill from that point forward.
In the bottom half of the third, the Nationals managed to load the bases, and Stephen Strasburg could've scored a run off of a single from Chris Rendon. However, he was held at third base so that the bases could be loaded for none other than Bryce Harper. Harper's been on a quest for his 100th home run for a while now, and the defending NL MVP absolutely crushed a 91-mph fastball from Teheran and sent it into the second deck of right field for a grand slam. Just like that, Atlanta's precious one-run lead turned into a familiar three-run deficit, and it only got worse from there.
With his grand slam, Bryce Harper is now hitting .444 (12x27) lifetime vs Julio Teheran with 3 doubles and 5 home runs. #Braves— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) April 14, 2016
Wilson Ramos hit a solo homer in the very next inning, and then he struck again in the sixth inning with a RBI double to make it 6-1 Nationals at this point.
The only real positive about Julio Teheran's performance today was that he ate his fair share of innings. He pitched seven innings, but he still got hit hard throughout his appearance today. He was credited for all six runs that the Nationals scored today, and those runs came on six hits. He did pick up six strikeouts, but when your "strikeouts" and "earned runs" are the same, you didn't have a good day.
Julio Teheran has now allowed 2 HRs in 10 of his past 34 starts. He allowed 2 HRs in seven of 62 starts from 4/23/13-4/11/15.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) April 14, 2016
One player who did have a good day was Nick Markakis, who continues to be the Braves' most reliable hitter in the early stages of the season. He brought in Atlanta's second run of the day with a double, and he's already got seven this season. As you can see below, it took him a pretty long time to reach seven doubles last season, so this is a positive development when it comes to Markakis and his bat.
Last season, it took Markakis 169 plate appearances to record 7 doubles.— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) April 14, 2016
Today, his 7th double came in his 38th plate appearance.#Braves
That was the only good note on offense for the Braves today, as Markakis' two RBIs were the only ones that Atlanta would get on the afternoon. Atlanta lost 6-2 today, and they're now one loss away from matching the 1988 team's 0-10 start. All we can do now is hope for a breakthrough in Miami.