WASHINGTON -- After scoring an astonishing 62 runs over their first eight games of the season, the Braves' offensive juggernaut was clicking on all cylinders before Monday night's series opener vs. the Nationals. In one inning against a pitcher not named Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer on Tuesday night, Atlanta was
WASHINGTON -- After scoring an astonishing 62 runs over their first eight games of the season, the Braves' offensive juggernaut was clicking on all cylinders before Monday night's series opener vs. the Nationals. In one inning against a pitcher not named Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer on Tuesday night, Atlanta was back to its old tricks.
The Braves managed just three hits and two walks against Strasburg, who pitched a sensational eight innings. Atlanta finally threatened in the top of the ninth, with Dansby Swanson's RBI double representing the team's first run of the series, but Ryan Flaherty struck out looking to end the game.
Atlanta's defense had a rough game Tuesday night, as a pair of diving attempts by center fielder Ender Inciarte fell just short, resulting in three of the Nationals' runs. An errant throw from right-hander Shane Carle resulted in another run in the sixth.
In two games against the Nationals, the Braves have mustered just seven hits.
Right-hander Mike Foltynewicz took his first loss of the season, lasting five frames while allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks.
"The big thing was, couple of feet either way, and he does five innings with no runs," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Foltynewicz. "The process is going in the right direction with him. I really like what I've seen all spring, and to this point in the season."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Out of reach: Inciarte had a tough game at the plate, going 1-for-4, but it was his defensive near-misses that loomed large. In the first inning, he dove and missed a liner off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. The ball tricked all the way to the wall, and Zimmerman reached third on a two-run triple.
"He was just trying to get it. He's getting after it, and he's trying to do anything he can to try and end the inning right there," Snitker said about Inciarte's first-inning dive. More >
Then, in the fourth inning, Inciarte slid and came up short on a ball off Brian Goodwin's bat. This time, left fielder Preston Tucker was there to corral the ball, but another runned crossed the plate for Washington.
"Brain farts": Not only did Nationals right-hander Strasburg out-pitch Foltynewicz, he got the best of his foe at the plate. Strasburg singled and walked against Foltynewicz, and the Braves' starter would later attribute Strasburg's success at the plate to "brain farts" on Foltynewicz's end.
"Handful of pitches there could have led to another inning I could've got back out there," Foltynewicz said. "A couple brain farts. Not focused too much at that time."
Right-hander Brandon McCarthy (2-0, 3.97 ERA) takes the mound for the Braves in the series finale against the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park. McCarthy is coming off a quality start in Colorado, and will go for his third straight win to begin the season.
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Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington, D.C. and covered the Braves on Tuesday.