Baseball can certainly be a game of contrasts. You can win or lose a game for so many different reasons where the tales of games evolve into so many different forms. It’s really fun when these different styles of play occur the same day under a double header, and that was the case Wednesday afternoon between the Braves and Nationals.
In what constituted one of the better pitching matchups we’ve seen so far this season, it was no surprise to see Stephen Strasburg come out and close the Braves. The surprise occurred when Huascar Ynoa in each half of the inning matched Strasburg almost pitch by pitch.
With Ozzie Albies sitting at the top of the first inning, it seemed as if the Braves might be able to find some success against Strasburg. But to move on and end any tension, that should not be the case. Both Strasburg and Ynoa managed to get through the first two innings without much activity at all, but in the third inning both teams created chances to score.
With two outs, Ronald Acuna Jr. went. and reached second base for his second steal of the season. Albies then went, but Freedie Freeman flew out to finish the inning. At the bottom of the third, Strasburg himself doubled and Victor Robles went, bringing Braves̵
From the top of the fourth inning through the top of the sixth inning, 15 blows entered combined between both teams in the battery box, and neither of them reached base. In the afternoon, Ynoa was brilliant and delivered the exact performance that the Braves needed. Over five innings, he allowed two hits, one walk and produced five strikes. Of his 68 pitches, 44 were strikes, including several first strikes. It looks like the Braves may have found their solution to keep the fifth starting spot down until Mike Soroka returns.
After the top of the Braves order looked helpless at the top of the sixth inning, Luke Jackson stepped into the game and did what he does best. The “disciple of drama” allowed Victor Robles to go, steal second and then advance to third on a Turner fly out. Juan Soto was then deliberately gone and made it to second place as well. However, Jackson was able to end the threat on a weak grounder for himself outside of Starlin Castro’s bat.
When the game came in at the top of the 7th inning, the Braves were probably happy that Strasburg’s day was over after allowing a hit, twice and eight strikes. Tanner Rainey came into the game and recorded two quick outs. However, Dansby Swanson connected with a single, and it made it possible for the latest sentence of three words that strike fear in pitcher hearts to call again:
PINCH-HIT PANDA TIME!
For the second time in the first six games of the season, in a wonderful dose of Deja Vu, Pablo Sandoval delivered a two-out, two-run squeeze home run at the top of the seventh inning, just as he did in this year’s first game against Philadelphia . This time it was to give the Braves the lead for good. After the Braves took a 2-0 lead, Sean Newcomb got the call in a big spot to close out the Braves victory. He responded by hitting the side to win.
What a wonderful Wednesday!
While the reason it was wonderful may be less than ideal, it may be the happiest a baseball team has ever been to start a season 2-4. The stars shone in the first game, but Ynoa, Sandoval and Newcomb all showed how amazing this team is in the aspect that everyone can step up and deliver in a huge moment at any time. Along with the two wins, on a day where their aces gave up five runs in two innings, the Braves bullpen would only allow one more run during the final twelve innings of the day.
Since this team has always shown the ability to do so, they came back whenever they had to. Although Strasburg closed the offense in general, this Braves offense still had the six most distant hit balls of the day. When some of the hard-hitting balls start to fall or continue to fly over the fence more often, this pitching staff has shown that it can offer plenty of support to make the Braves among the best in majors. Everyone stepped up and delivered when needed most, and this will hopefully be the boost this team needs to start making some noise early in the season.