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Gohara leaves nerves, walks behind for 1st W

Gohara leaves nerves, walks behind for 1st W

Luiz Gohara admits that nerves may have gotten the best of him when he made his big league debut last week against the Rangers. But in Wednesday’s 8-2 win over the Nationals, the 21-year-old lefty showed the Braves exactly why many think he has promising upside.

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Kemp slams Nats after Braves chase Max

Kemp slams Nats after Braves chase Max

In just his second career start, Braves left-hander Luiz Gohara went toe-to-toe with Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, the favorite to win his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award. Then, Atlanta broke out for six runs in the seventh — highlighted by a grand slam by Matt Kemp — to cruise to an 8-2 victory Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

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Folty, Braves seek sweep at Nationals Park

Folty, Braves seek sweep at Nationals Park

The Braves may be looking up at the Nationals in the division, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t made their mark at the NL East champions’ home turf. After going a combined 1-19 in its previous two seasons at Nationals Park, Atlanta is 6-3 in the nation’s capital in 2017, and have a chance to go for the three-game sweep Thursday night.

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Braves 8, Nationals Present

Braves 8, Nationals Present

For Julio Teheran, Nationals Park is the antithesis of SunTrust Park. It is too bad for him, then, that he pitches for the Braves, but it’s nice for Braves fans to have him go into Washington and shut the Nationals out time after time. Another shutout performance from him over seven innings earned him his 11th win, and brought his record to .500 for the season. Would that he could learn to successfully pitch at home!

Julio’s mound opponent was none other than Gio Gonzalez, he of the 2.68 ERA this season. With the Nationals in the fine-tuning for the postseason portion of the year (a postseason that will, hopefully, be over in three games), the Braves offense went out and torched Gonzalez for five runs over five innings, and then tacked on three more against the Washington bullpen, just because they could. Three of the Braves runs came on a Freddie Freeman home run, as Freddie proved once again that he loves hitting on his birthday. He ended the evening 3-for-5 with two runs scored, and looked like he was having fun at the end of a lost season. He’s so easy to root for. And he’s in his 7th season in the major leagues and only 28. I feel old.

Because the Nationals clinched on Sunday, this was the first game of the season the Braves have played that literally meant nothing. Stomping the Nationals and Gio Gonzalez is always nice, though, even when it is completely meaningless.

Nationals delenda est.



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Freddie Freeman’s ‘wet newspaper’ is not pitcher-friendly

Freddie Freeman’s ‘wet newspaper’ is not pitcher-friendly

Those of you who insisted 10 days ago that Freddie Freeman needed to be, had to be, must be shut down for the rest of the season, Dusty Baker and the Nationals would like to second that proposal. (Actually, the Cubs, Rangers and Marlins also probably would have seconded it already.)

Freeman had three hits, including a three-run homer, in the Braves’ 8-0 win against the Nationals on Tuesday night, which gave the big first baseman a .415 average (17-for-41) with eight extra-base hits (three homers), 11 RBIs and a .500 OBP and .756 slugging percentage in 10 games since Sept. 2.

Freddie Freeman returns to the dugout after crushing a three-run homer against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez on Tuesday at Nationals Park. (AP photo)

You might recall, Sept. 2 was the day in Chicago when Freeman said after striking out with a runner on in the ninth inning of a 14-12 loss that it felt like he was swinging a “wet newspaper” and that his bat speed was “completely gone” because of the weakening state of the left wrist he fractured May 17, which caused Freeman to miss seven weeks.

Nevermind that Freeman had a home run and an RBI double that day. “I’ve got nothing left, really. I’m doing my best up there, but I needed to do a little bit better the last time,” he said afterward.

To which lesser major league hitters – which is almost every active major league hitter – would probably say to their genial pal, “Shut up, Freddie.” But they would say it with a smile, because everyone seemingly loves Freeman, despite the fact he routinely rakes against most of their teams including the Nationals.

“Freddie, boy, he continues to hit us hard,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said after Tuesday’s game, when Freeman hit a home run that sailed more than 440 feet, high on the green-grass batter’s eye backdrop beyond center field at Nationals Park, the first homer by a lefty batter this season off veteran Gio Gonzalez.

In his past 83 games against the Nationals, dating to July 1, 2012, Freeman has a .370 average (114-for-308) with 46 extra-base hits (15 home runs), 59 RBIs, a .620 slugging percentage and 1.058 OPS.

In his past 19 games against the Nats, since mid-August 2016, Freeman is 29-for-75 (.387) with nine doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs and a 1.218 OPS.

Before we go any further, here’s a stat I looked up today. It’s the top OPS totals in the majors over the past 365 days by all who’ve played at least 100 games in that span: 1. Mike Trout 1.077, 2. Joey Votto 1.045, 3. Freddie Freeman 1.042, 4. Charlie Blackmon 1.026, 5. Giancarlo Stanton 1.005, 6. Paul Goldschmidt .994.

More on that in a moment, specifically the Freeman vs. Trout numbers that are remarkably similar.

While Freeman probably was frustrated after going 3-for-27 with one homer and a .561 OPS in an eight-game span from Aug. 25 through the first two games of the four-game series at Wrigley Field, it’s clear that slump was the outlier in his performance, not an indication of where he was or is performance-wise, regardless of the wrist. Consider: In his 20 games before that slump, Freeman hit .380 (30-for-79) with 10 extra-base hits (three homers) and a 1.025 OPS.

Granted, the home-run total was a bit down, but 99 percent of the players in baseball would love to have a 20-game stretch like that one that Freeman had with his wrist in what he characterized as a declining condition, the strength being reduced to about “65 percent” by midway through the series at Chicago at the beginning of September.

If his left wrist is 65 percent, then he’s even more of a hitting savant, more of a gifted baseball freak, than many teammates and coaches already believe he is.

Freeman returned from his fractured wrist well ahead of schedule and after hardly any minor league rehab, and still hit .269 with an impressive (by average-player standards) 11 extra-base hits (five homers), 15 RBIs and an .841 OPS in his first 24 games through Aug. 1.

But since then, ramped it up, if not to his usual standards then pretty damn close: In 38 games beginning Aug. 2, he’s hit .340 (50-for-147) with 21 extra-base hits (seven homers), 28 RBIs, 21 walks, 27 strikeouts and a .424 OBP and .578 slugging percentage (1.002).

That’s a 1.002 OPS over 38 games while swinging a “wet newspaper.” As I said, the rest of baseball would like to smack you, Freddie.

Now, back to the leading OPS totals in the majors over the past 365 days.

In that span Votto played 163 games, Blackmon 160, Stanton 153 and Goldschmidt 156, while Freeman (114 games) and Trout (115 games) each missed about seven weeks because of injuries this season — Freeman’s fractured wrist and Trout’s torn thumb ligament, both in May. Each led his respective league in several major offensive categories this season before getting hurt in May.

Freeman led the NL in homers (14) and ranked second in both OBP (.461) and slugging percentage (.758) before he was hit in the wrist by a 94-mph fastball May 17, which caused him to miss seven weeks (three fewer than initially anticipated). At the time of the injury, he also led the majors in home runs (42) and OPS (1.058) over the previous 365 days while batting .318 in that span.

Flash ahead to now, and here’s the rather startling past-365-days comparison between Freeman and Trout, a two-time American League MVP who has finished no lower than runner-up for that award in each of his first five seasons and is generally regarded as the best player in the game:

— Trout in 514 PA (400 AB): .313 average, .459 OBP, .618 slugging percentage (1.077 OPS), 58 extra-base hits (30 homers), 73 RBI, 25 SB, 102 BB, 92 K.

 — Freeman in 501 PA (425 AB): .325 avg., .421 OBP, .621 slugging percentage (1.042 OPS), 65 extra-base hits (30 homers), 81 RBI, 9 SB, 66 BB, 97 K.

To which I say, wet newspapers for everyone. (Besides, we could use the boost in rack sales.)

• Since today is Dave Mustaine’s birthday, here’s one from Megadeth.

“ADDICTED TO CHAOS” by Megadeth

Megadeth

Only yesterday they told me you were gone
All these normal people, will I find another one?
Monkey on my back, Aching my bones
I forgot you said “One day you’ll walk alone”
I said I need you, does that make me wrong?
Am I a weak man, are you feeling strong?
My heart was blackened, It’s bloody red
A hole in my heart, a hole in my head?

Who will help me up?
Where’s the helping hand?
Will you turn on me?
Is this my final stand?

In a dream I cannot see
Tangled abstract fallacy
Random turmoil builds in me
I’m addicted to chaos

Lights shined on my path,
Turn bad days into good
Turn breakdowns into blocks, I smashed ’em
Cause I could
My brain was Labored, My head would spin
Don’t let me down, don’t give up, don’t give in
The rain comes down, cold wind blows
The plans we made are back up on the road
Turn up my collar, welcome the unknown
Remember that you said
“One day you’ll walk alone”

 

 



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Big game icing on cake for Freeman's birthday

Big game icing on cake for Freeman's birthday

It would be difficult to dream up a better birthday than the one Freddie Freeman had against the Nationals on Tuesday. Going against his favorite foe, the Braves’ first baseman went 3-for-5, including a mammoth three-run home run to center field, in Tuesday’s 8-0 win at Nationals Park.

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Gohara's 2nd start comes opposite Scherzer

Gohara's 2nd start comes opposite Scherzer

Max Scherzer has a few regular-season starts left to make his case for a second consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’ll get one of those Wednesday night as the Nationals host the Braves in the second game of their three-game set at Nationals Park.

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