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Fourth Inning: Braves 2, Nats 0

[UPDATE]: Here in the fifth, Wily Mo Pena is pinch-hitting for Balester. His pitch count is only 55, but the team wants to save space for its relievers to get some work. (Balester was on an 85-pitch limit today.) Wells, Ledezma and Rivera were all slated for work tonight.

Also, Kawakame, the Braves pitcher, is something else. He's like Jamie Moyer with a better fastball. I've seen him reach 90 or 91 mph from time to time tonight, but he's not afraid to come back with a 65-mph off-speeder. So far in the fifth, the Nats have one hit and one run.

---

Everything was going so good -- and so fast. Through three innings, Balester set down nine of ten (including four on F-8 putouts), and it darn near looked like he'd throw a nine-inning no hitter in about 87 minutes. Indeed, neither the Nats or Braves got a hit in the first three innings tonight. Those three frames passed in 34 minutes. I've never seen a quicker start.

But Balester is adept at giving up quick runs, too, and he did that in the fourth. Yunel Escobar, leading off the inning, shot a hard grounder that was a little too hot for Ryan Zimmerman, and though it skipped off his glove, it was a no-debate hit. Next came Chipper Jones. With a 1-0 count, he got a fat fastball and met it with a perfect swing. It landed somewhere beyond the right field fence, and the Braves had a 2-0 lead.

The next two Braves, too, hit the ball hard (one a double, the other an out), and Balester only got out of the inning because of two exceptional defensive plays. First, Anderson Hernandez ranged up the middle to grab a one hopper hit by Kelly Johnson -- the ball had some weird topspin, almost like a tennis shot -- and made a body-twisting, against-the-momentum throw to first. (Nick Johnson had a nice scoop, too.) Next batter, with a runner on third, rocked a grounder at Johnson, but the first baseman gloved it, tapped first and ended the inning.

Gotta say, if Paul Lo Duca is playing first, the Braves are up 3-0.

By Chico Harlan  |  March 25, 2009; 7:55 PM ET
 
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Next: Hernandez Leaves Game With Injury

Comments

Gotta say, if Paul Lo Duca is playing first, the Braves are up 3-0.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Best comment of the day!!!! No, would have been 4-0 if PLoD was manning 1st!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 25, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

Adam Dunn probably wouldn't have done much better...

Posted by: BGinVA | March 25, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering how Eldred would have fared with those balls. He's so big, you'd think he was a klutz in the field, but he makes some nice plays.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | March 25, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Check out the bats and nice baserunning!

Posted by: JennX_ | March 25, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Gotta say, if Paul Lo Duca is playing first, the Braves are up 3-0.

Ugh! Remember when that was not just a stomach churning joke? Good ol Capt Red A$$. How we miss you so.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 25, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Atta boy, Nick. Nice inside-out swing in the sixth. Dr. Eckstein is a genius.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 25, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm...being on MASN must be bad luck for our players, as Anderson Hernandez appears hurt...

Posted by: BGinVA | March 25, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

OH $H-T, what just happened to Anderson Hernandez!!!!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 25, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Ronnie Belliard might have just become the starting 2nd baseman....

Posted by: fischy | March 25, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Anderson Hernandez injured running to first. Looks like left ankle. (The same injury I'm currently nursing, incidentally!) Hope it's not serious... :(

Posted by: JennX_ | March 25, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Based on everything in Spring Training, Eldred is the call-up if / when N. Johnson goes down. Dunn is an abomination at 1B, and I don't think Willingham wants any part of it.

Posted by: BinM | March 25, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Dr. Eckstein didn't teach Nick about base running.

Posted by: BGinVA | March 25, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

One roster spot just opened up: Angel Hernandez will be 14-day DL with hammy woes. Hello, Mr. Belly-ard.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 25, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm... nevermind. Looks like the leg, not the ankle.

Posted by: JennX_ | March 25, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Bob Carpenter, "Josh Bard is a switch hitter and an outstanding offensive player".

What is his definition of outstanding?

Not 2008 for sure. 2007 was a decent year.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | March 25, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone think Mr. Wells will be among the 12/13/14 pitcher split when this club heads north?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 25, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Angel Hernandez will be 14-day DL with hammy woes. Hello, Mr. Belly-ard.

************************************

Angel Hernandez to the DL? If Odalis Perez were still among us, he would be quite happy with this news :)

Posted by: BGinVA | March 25, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Belliard's already nursing a "rolled" ankle - enter "SuperWillie".

Posted by: BinM | March 25, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Whoops. All those Hernandi look alike...

Posted by: jdschulz50 | March 25, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

@jdschulz:

Wells, 25-man? NOT!

Posted by: BinM | March 25, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Wells looks pretty good. He hit 94 several times on the TV gun.

Posted by: Willy2 | March 25, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Was it really Willie that went in for AH? It looked like him, but Bob Carpenter said it was Ronnie Belliard. Geez...I can't believe people got upset when it looked like Bob was out of the booth after the '07 season. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed, that's for sure.

Posted by: BGinVA | March 25, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Chico

The name of the pitcher is actually, Kawakam"i" ,not Kawakam"e". In Japanese, Kawakami means "upstream of a river".

BTW, the game will be broadcasted in Japan late tonight. Hopefully, I will watch the pitching of Balester!

Posted by: natsfanintokyo | March 25, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh, the game will be the first spring training MLB game broadcasted generally in Japan, aside from payperview channels.

Posted by: natsfanintokyo | March 25, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Who in blazes gave Nick Johnson a "green-light" to try for a stolen base? Suspend both base coaches for 30 days :).

Posted by: BinM | March 25, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

@jdschulz -- I'm no expert, but I do expect Wells to go north with the team.

Posted by: fischy | March 25, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

New post.

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 25, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking that was a blown hit & run - no way they would have Johnson stealing - you guys can be really harsh

Posted by: sjm3091 | March 25, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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