If Braves can’t beat Nats, it’s time to end this charade

These are the Washington Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman) scoring. These are the Braves (Brian McCann) missing. This has been a problem.

These are the Washington Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman) scoring. These are the Braves (Brian McCann) missing. As you can see, this has been a problem. (AJC file photo)

I’m not quite sure how, and maybe you’re not quite sure how, and I think there’s a possibility that even they’re not sure how: But the Braves aren’t dead again.

Now, there’s no telling how long this resuscitation will last. I seem to recall a stirring three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies in early July that was followed by losing two out of three games to the Washington Nationals, a team that had lost eight of its previous 10 and entered the series with a record of 23-54. And can you figure out where I’m going with this?

The Braves are coming off three straight wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in the National League. They open a homestand tonight with two games against the Nationals, who have the worst record in the majors. Take cover.

I dunno. Maybe the fact that Washington is actually hot — on an eight-game winning streak — will work to the Braves’ advantage. When the Nationals are just their usual sewage-like selves, the Braves fall to pieces. They’ve lost four of six to Washington since sweeping a three-game series early this season. Think about that when you’re looking at the win differential in the National League East and wild-card standings.

Here’s something else to digest. The Braves went 15-4 against the Montreal Expos in 2004. But here are the series numbers since the franchise relocated to Washington in 2005.

Season  Nats record   Braves vs. Nats

2005       81-81 (5th)     6-4 home, 4-5 road, 10-9 total

2006       71-91 (5th)     5-4 home, 5-4 road,  10-8 total

2007       73-89 (4th)     7-2 home, 4-5 road, 11-7 total

2008       59-102 (5th)   4-5 home, 2-7 road, 6-12 total

2009       40-72 (5th)     3-0 home, 2-4 road, 5-4 total

Every team has its nemesis. The Nationals might be more of a nuisance than a nemesis.

But if the Braves are serious about making some miracle playoff run, this can’t happen. The only thing worse than falling short would be falling short because they couldn’t dominate a bad team. They have nine games left with Washington. It says here they need to win six, maybe seven, of those. Otherwise, they will be dead again.

79 comments Add your comment

trint

August 11th, 2009
6:59 am

1st, but Jeff why do you think this team play down to their competition? It cant obviously be that they think that they are allowed a win just for walking on the diamond. I’ve been thinking about this ever since the game ended on Sunday. Im expecting a let down but not hoping for one

Nativebird

August 11th, 2009
6:59 am

Braves tend to play up and play down to the level of competition. Someone, (someone, Cox? Wren?, Chipper?, someone) needs to instill the concept to these guys that playoff bound teams, must not just beat the weaker teams, you must destroy the weaker teams.

Bravesgal

August 11th, 2009
7:00 am

Poor Jeff, gotta be tough that every have been wrong on just about everything Braves-related. Talked to John Smoltz lately?

Scott B

August 11th, 2009
7:12 am

The Braves need to get the Nats down and then relentlessly pummel them into submission. Washington will be as stubborn as ever, but, in the end they will be shouting:”UNCLE!!!”

MiltonDawg

August 11th, 2009
7:13 am

Absolutely must win both games..no excuses!! If you can take 3 of 4 from the best team in the majors right now, then an awful Nats team (albeit who won 8 in a row), shouldn’t even compare.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 11th, 2009
7:30 am

braves are done

66GT

August 11th, 2009
7:31 am

How bout you let them play the games before you all start flapping your gums. Be a good fan and root for them!!

Be-little, BeBOLD

August 11th, 2009
7:33 am

A team inherits its spirit from the manager and coaches . . . when the head men think this is a sure win, the players sense the same and therefore cannot overcome the mentality they can just show up and win! Every last one will deny it but just can’t do anything about it. Need a fiery leader to keep them on their toes. Cox is laid back and the team is too!

K-Dog

August 11th, 2009
7:36 am

If the Nats got some good solid starters there is no doubt with players like Zimmerman, Dunn and Morgan, to name a few, they would be contenders, but they don’t. Therefore the Braves need not just beat the Nats, but give them an old fashin country whooping. Remember though they used to be the Expos and we always had trouble with them.

Shadetree

August 11th, 2009
7:40 am

Again, starting pitching is the name of the game. As best I can tell Washington never wins late. They score early and the Bravos roll over. It’s a no spirit thing. Can’t get up for the little gys. always been that way. Every team has one of those teams they just can’t seem to figure out.

Wee need Rooster and Lowe to shut them Gnats down. Pesky little sh!ts.

RHR

August 11th, 2009
7:40 am

Totally agree. It’s put up or shut up time, Bravos. I’m going to line you up and whip you if you go out there and lay an egg to the Nationals AGAIN. After they swept the Phillies they were only TWO games out of 1st, if I recall correctly, and then the Phillies went on a hot streak and the Braves dropped the next 2 to the Nats. This team could be running away with the division if they had just beat the teams they were supposed to beat this season – Nats, Pirates, etc.

Felix the Cat

August 11th, 2009
7:40 am

Meow………& Go Braves !

RHR

August 11th, 2009
7:41 am

Washington swept the Marlins while the braves were on the road trip, btw. Including a come from behind win, Shadetree.

tralfaz

August 11th, 2009
7:44 am

“We’ve got a little warmup series against Washington before Philly comes to town,” Jones said.

—-BAD choice of words

Shadetree

August 11th, 2009
7:44 am

I’m talking about the Nationals and the Braves not the Gnats and the fish. Against the Braves, I believe the Gnats score early and often as opposed to winning in the 8th or 9th. If my memory serves me correctly. I’m an old man though.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

August 11th, 2009
7:45 am

I’m using reverse psychology

Shadetree

August 11th, 2009
7:47 am

How do you get a psychology into reverse?

Is that like a brain fart?

Sonny Clusters

August 11th, 2009
7:52 am

We was noticing that Chipper hasnt been playing and the Braves are scoring runs and winning games just like they dont miss him and Jeff. If Chipper is planning on warming up against the Nats thats going to take out either Prado or KJ and both them boys been swinging hot bats. Maybe Bobby should let Chipper heal a little bit more and he can come back when somebody else cools off. We was thinking Prado should never come out and KJ, too, if hes hitting like he is now.

WayDog

August 11th, 2009
8:01 am

Jeff, Go back and take a look at the Braves history against the Expos. They have been a pain the Braves neck for many, many years, even when the Braves were making that incredible run of division championships, the Expos seemed to have their number more years than not. No idea why that is, but that’s been the history.

Toots

August 11th, 2009
8:06 am

I predict the Braves will…oh look! Something shiny!

STL Falcon

August 11th, 2009
8:06 am

Mr. Schultz,
I’ve been in Hawaii for the past week and the sun burned my scalp – what do you do for that?

jacket3

August 11th, 2009
8:07 am

Can’t agree more Jeff. The Bravo’s need to play the rest of the season like every game is a division title game, because in a sense all the games thru the end of the long season are important….so maybe all this winning is contagious or we just have a taste of what 2010 will bring us. At least the Braves are fun to watch again!

Dave

August 11th, 2009
8:13 am

Um, have people noticed that the Nats have an 8 game winning streak? Being a diehard Braves fan up here in the nation’s capitol, I am force fed a steady diet of Nationals news. Here is a summary. The Nats are not as bad as their record! They have better offensive guys than the Braves and if they get decent starting pitching, they win more often than not. The problem is their pitchers are young so consistency is not in their vocabulary yet. Tonight the Braves face the best Nationals pitcher (8-8 on the worst team in baseball) so a Braves victory is no sure thing.

lefty fielder

August 11th, 2009
8:15 am

Yes, STL Falcon . . . I was in Paris last week and burned a little sandal design on the tops of my feet. When I go back next week I’m gonna wear shoes.

Bobby cox

August 11th, 2009
8:15 am

Of we could but we not Nats will beat us n that team in philadelphia also….i need lose all six so can beat me wife up more….

Mac

August 11th, 2009
8:18 am

There’s no worse team the Braves could play right now. Maybe the Braves should be hypnotized to see the Nats in Expos uniforms? Yeah, that’s it.

Chris

August 11th, 2009
8:19 am

Jeff –

I bet you weren’t really feeling this column, given the long hiatus you’ve taken from Braves writing and your (warranted) belief that they’re probably out of the race. Believe me, I noticed all the football stuff you’re writing. You seem a lot like my friends, who have sort of given up and fully turned to Falcons, Dawgs, Tide, Vols, etc.

I can’t blame you.

TampaGator

August 11th, 2009
8:19 am

Atlanta baseball “fan”: go to the game and spend almost the entire game on the cell phone talking everything but baseball or the game. College football fan: arrives 8 hours before the game and spends the next 24 hours going completely crazy about the game. Go college football!!!

lefty fielder

August 11th, 2009
8:20 am

Bobby Cox . . . Dude, never drink and blog.

J Humphries

August 11th, 2009
8:23 am

why don’t you go somewhere else and grip???

Herschel Talker

August 11th, 2009
8:26 am

“1st, but Jeff why do you think this team play down to their competition?”

TWO WORDS – BOOBY COX. He is a clown.

rtrafford

August 11th, 2009
8:26 am

Time to end this charade? Why? Does it offend your fragile sensitivities?

That’s likely the most absurd perspective this side of Obamacare.

Reid Adair

August 11th, 2009
8:28 am

The numbers speak for themselves, Jeff. Ever since the Expos moved to D.C. and became the Nationals, they’ve been a thorn in the Braves’ side.

Will the next two games be any different? I guess we’ll see.

renegade

August 11th, 2009
8:29 am

Toots that was funny. Haw Haw Haw. You have the same distractability as the braves, it don’t take much to blow their minds. Anyway both of you hang in their it will get better.

JASon

August 11th, 2009
8:43 am

Are you on crack? There are 50 games left to play.

If you want to talk about a “miracle playoff run,” why don’t you consult the 1951 NY Giants, who won 37 of their last 44 regular season games to make it in. Then come talk to me about a “miracle playoff run.”

Brian

August 11th, 2009
8:49 am

I agree that the Braves need to and should beat Washington, but the Nationals are better than most people think. They do still have the worst record in baseball (probably not for much longer), but the Royals, Reds, and Padres have a worse run differential. This is also not the same Nationals team that started off so poorly. The trade for Nyjer Morgan cleaned up a lot of clubhouse issues and brought a lot of energy to the team. They’ve been hitting the ball well all year, and are having MVP kind of seasons from Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham. I’m not saying they’re one of the best teams in the NL, but they’re not the ‘62 Mets. They aren’t even the June of 2009 Nationals anymore.

curtis jones

August 11th, 2009
8:58 am

The Braves MUST make a move today. With two off days this week, they DO NOT need so many pitchers. Kawakami moves to the bullpen for a few days, so they need to demote Acosta or Logan, and bring up a hitter from Gwinnett: Conrad, Canizares, Burke…somebody to strengthen the bench, and give them another option (besides Greg Norton!)

Bill

August 11th, 2009
9:07 am

“…sewage-like…”

Was that really necessay? Your mother would have corrected you on that.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 11th, 2009
9:33 am

Keep your eye on the Fish.

ann lewis

August 11th, 2009
9:33 am

OUR WONDERFUL BRAVES AREN’T GOING TO GO ANYWHERE UNTIL COX AND WREN ARE GONE.
THEY HAVE TRADED US INTO OBLIVION.
i HEAR CHIPPER IS OUT AGAIN. NUFF SAID.

TP

August 11th, 2009
9:38 am

Jeff Shultz, it’s time to end this charade

blazerdawg

August 11th, 2009
9:49 am

C’mon JS – If the Bravos end the week 1 1/2 out of first in the NL East, then will you support the run.

The Braves are what most people expected thusfar, not dominant but in the hunt (albeit that the path to this point has been interesting).

Go Braves!

PMC

August 11th, 2009
9:55 am

They have been historically bad against the franchise, outside of 2004… remember strike shortened 1994? The Expos were one of the better playing franchises that year. The Braves have always seemed to struggle with them.

BravoMan

August 11th, 2009
9:55 am

I feel better about my future in finding a job when I know that even this guy, who writes crap for a living, as one.

Jeff Schultz

August 11th, 2009
10:00 am

Trint – ‘tis one of the great mysteries of life.

Bravesgal – What was I wrong about? I still think the way the Braves handled the Smoltz situation was unforgiveable. It was never about, “He’ll definitely come back to form,” because I never wrote that. But when I talk to JS I’ll say hi for you.

Felix – loved that bag of tricks. How’s Rock Bottom?

StlFalcon – aloe and a hat.

Chris – I dunno. I write about something when I think there’s something new to write. Do I think Braves will make it? Probably not. But they’re making it more interesting than I would’ve thought.

PMC

August 11th, 2009
10:02 am

I think maybe the depressing thing is that they may hit better as a team than the Braves do. When they get good pitching (John Lannan usually) they are tough to beat. If the Braves don’t have EVERY one of thier key players healthy and hitting well… it’s tough to out score them. Willingham, Nick Johnson, Adam Dunn… thier record sucks yes… but they are no pushover…. some how the Braves find a way to put up thier worst numbers against the nats. Hopefully not in these two.

McFann ;Ô;

August 11th, 2009
10:04 am

These are the Washington Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman) scoring. These are the Braves (Brian McCann) missing. As you can see, this has been a problem.

Oh, that was a nice way to put it… :roll:

midnite

August 11th, 2009
10:15 am

Bravos will be just fine against the Nats. Nats have won 8 in a row but their road record is atrocious. Bravos usually play better against hot teams. The sweep of the Jays earlier this season is a point of reference they had the best record in MLB at the time. We put the Jays in a tailspin that they haven’t recovered from yet.

McFann ;Ô;

August 11th, 2009
10:16 am

Shoulda made that a :x .

pryguy

August 11th, 2009
10:19 am

Jeff,

I’m pretty sure the Braves do know how they are still in this thing. They have one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. They are starting to get more consistent production out of their lineup. They have the best record in baseball since June 28. Escobar has been incredible.

You might want to rephrase your mindless thoughts of negativity before you go to print. Coming off a huge series against the Dodgers and heading into a weekend battle against the Phils it is understandable you write something about this Nats series. And your concerns are valid, but you would think you would have more substance than calling the season dead if this series goes poorly. Being such an experienced writer, it seems like this series is crucial but isn’t the end all be all. Don’t be an idiot.