Braves Unable to Complete Rally, Drop Series Opener to Washington Nationals

The Atlanta Braves got into a hole early and couldn't dig out of it on Monday night
Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Morton allowed eight runs on twelve hits in Atlanta's 8-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night
Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Morton allowed eight runs on twelve hits in Atlanta's 8-4 loss to the Washington Nationals on Monday night / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Braves dug themselves into a deep hole and couldn’t quite dig out against the Washington Nationals, dropping the series opener 8-4 in Truist Park on Monday afternoon.

Here’s what you need to know about from the contest.

Charlie Morton struggled to avoid barrels in this one

Atlanta’s elder statesman appeared to have good underlying metrics in this one - eighteen whiffs and a 29% CSW (Called Strikes plus Whiffs, with 30% being MLB average) - but he just could not avoid Nationals bats today with the rest of his pitches.

Washington scored four runs in the first innings off of four hits and a walk, with Morton taking thirty pitches (nineteen strikes) to get out of the inning. He rallied to get into the sixth inning, but couldn’t finish the frame, exiting with two outs. Morton was charged with eight runs allowed (all earned) on twelve hits, walking two and striking out seven. It wasn’t homers that was the problem (he gave up just one, a solo shot to CJ Abrams in the 2nd inning), but he gave up three doubles and just struggled to avoid the middle of the strike zone in this one. 

The Abrams homer was on a center-cut fastball, as was Eddie Rosario’s RBI double in the first inning. The Nationals tallied eleven hard-hit balls off of Morton in this one. 

Adam Duvall likes playing every day 

Veteran Adam Duvall has been confined to the short side of a platoon in left field with Jarred Kelenic this season, starting against lefties and pinch-hitting for Kelenic or others late. 

But he’s played full games both of the last two days, being in the left field yesterday in Pittsburgh against their lefty starter and then starting in right field in Ronald Acuña Jr’s place, and it’s paid off - Duvall homered on both days, giving him three homers in his last four starts. 

He finished the day 1-4 with the homer and two RBIs but also had three hard-hit balls and some nifty defensive plays in right field. There are questions about if he can maintain his level of production with everyday playing time - he’s thirty-five and has been outspoken about the difficulties playing in the heat as a Type 1 diabetic - but Atlanta’s confident in the veteran’s ability to communicate with the coaching and training staffs. 

Braves manager Brian Snitker indicated that this outfield mix - Kelenic and Duvall in left and right field (respectively) flanking centerfielder Michael Harris II - would be Atlanta’s setup for the foreseeable future, with the Braves logically giving this trio some extended run before making any sort of potential personnel or lineup changes. While JP Martínez was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett this morning, he’s expected to be more of a clear 4th outfielder rather than a platoon partner for either corner outfield spot. 

Washington needlessly handicapped their bullpen for the series

Washington rookie Mitchell Parker was fantastic, allowing only two hits in his first six innings, and at one point racking up five consecutive strikeouts. But Atlanta finally got to him when he came back out for the seventh, scoring three runs to only one out to open the inning. By the time Adam Duvall’s homer cleared the bases, Nationals manager Dave Martinez pulled him and went to reliever Derek Law, who allowed one more run before he could finally close the door on Atlanta’s late rally. 

This apparently spoken Martinez, as he then used primary setup man Hunter Harvey for the 8th and closer Kyle Finnegan for the ninth despite it not being a save situation. The strategy worked - Harvey worked a clean 8th and Finnegan worked around a Sean Murphy single and Orlando Arcia single to end the game and preserve the win - but both men going double digit pitches today when they did the same on Saturday means they’re probably only good for one more outing in the next three games. Harvey, most notably, has thrown almost seventy-five pitches in the last week, having a thirty-pitch outing last Wednesday and back-to-back ten-plus pitch outings over the weekend.   

What’s next for the Atlanta Braves?

Atlanta’s back at it against Washington tomorrow night at 7:20 PM ET, welcoming Jake Irvin (2-5, 3.79 ERA) to the mound opposite Max Fried (4-2, 3.38 ERA). 


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Lindsay Crosby

LINDSAY CROSBY

Managing Editor for Braves Today and the 2023 IBWAA Prospects/Minors Writer of the Year. You can reach him at contact@bravestoday.com