Braves 3, Nats 1
The Nats were shut down by Atlanta Braves starter Tim Hudson. No big shock there. Hudson is now 10-1 against Washington in his career and on Wednesday switched away from his normal game plan, using his sinker to keep the ball on the ground all night in a 3-1 victory.
The Nats fell to 43-58 with the loss. Just a reminder that tomorrow’s series finale is at 12:35 p.m. – a rare early afternoon start at Nationals Park. Atlanta is now 58-42 and needed the win as the second-place Phillies (55-46) continue to put the pressure on with a seven-game winning streak. Scott Olsen (2-2, 3.77 ERA) makes his first start for the Nats since May 21. Not sure what to expect from the 26-year-old left-hander, who was having a nice start to his season when he suffered another shoulder injury. This is the same guy who missed most of last season with a small labral tear and subsequent surgery. But he’s looked pretty solid during his recent minor-league rehab starts and Washington needs someone to step into the breach with J.D. Martin (back) and Luis Atilano (elbow) on the disabled list and Stephen Strasburg’s status uncertain.
Livan Hernandez - Wednesday's starter - said he would be willing to pitch on short rest on Sunday against the Phillies if Strasburg can’t go. Nothing new there. Hernandez always volunteers. But he also noted that long reliever Miguel Batista deserves another chance after his fine performance on short notice when Strasburg was scratched moments before Tuesday’s first pitch.
Here were some of manager Jim Riggleman’s thoughts on Strasburg’s status when he met with reporters before the loss to Atlanta:
When and what will Strasburg need to prove he can go on Sunday? "Basically, we're going to watch him play catch in the outfield before he goes to the bullpen and throws. So if all that takes place in time for him to have a side session and then pitch in his normal routine, we'll consider that. If not, then we just wouldn't pitch him Sunday."
Would you be surprised if he makes that start? "I don't want to say I'll be surprised, because then if I pitch him Sunday, it contradicts itself. But as you said, we've been cautious, and we'll continue to be cautious."
In other news from the actual game, leadoff batter Nyjer Morgan had two singles and recorded his club-leading 30th multi-hit game of the season. He has hit safely in 19 of 23 games since June 29th and is 27-for-40 in stolen-base attempts this season after swiping a pair on Tuesday. Since June 29 he is batting .304 (28-for-92) with a double, 10 runs scored and 11 stolen bases. Morgan’s on-base percentage during that stretch is .350. Maybe he really is a second-half player.
» Nothing to report on outfielder Josh Willingham. He was given the day off mainly because of an astounding lack of success against Hudson in his career. But given that his name is floating around daily in Internet trade rumors any healthy scratch draws added attention. No need to fear, though - for now. Willingham made a pinch-hit appearance in the ninth and flew out to center to end the game.
» Some updates on injured Nats players courtesy of head trainer Lee Kuntz. Catcher Jesus Flores had experienced a setback earlier this month as he recovers from shoulder surgery last year. He is back throwing at 90 feet, according to Kuntz, and feeling better after a rest period. Flores has also started hitting off a batting tee.
» Meanwhile, pitcher Chien-Ming Wang threw 40 pitches off a mound on Wednesday at the team’s spring-training complex in Viera, Fla. He is currently throwing every third day as he tries to recover from a traumatic shoulder injury that is seen more often in football players than baseball players.
“Again, with the injury [Wang] had he’s had his ups and downs,” Kuntz said. “But as of this last trial he feels better and we’re going to continue to try to push him.”
» At Triple-A Syracuse, rehabbing pitcher Jason Marquis (elbow surgery) went five innings with four runs allowed. Marquis gave up four hits and a walk, but did strike out seven batters. All four runs came on a first-inning grand slam with nobody out.
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