The Braves offense was held silent for the evening while the bullpen (and its management) spoiled a fine Braves' debut from Jhoulys Chacin as the Braves fell to 0-7 on the season with a 2-1 loss to the Nationals.
Jhoulys Chacin and Gio Gonzalez were locked in a pitcher's duel for quite some time. Through 3 innings, they had each allowed no runs and scattered hits here and there. Chacin's final line for the game would be 6 innings with 5 hits and 8 strikeouts. Frankly, if fans had been told before the game they could get that from Chacin, they would have been thrilled.
Mallex Smith did his part to keep the Nationals off the basepaths. After a Michael Taylor single, Mallex made the heads up play to, instead of throw to second, throw behind Michael Taylor who was caught out as a result.
However, Gio Gonzalez would match him with six scoreless innings of his own so this game would be decided by the bullpens. Now, if you have watched Braves baseball over the last year and a half or so...this development did not instill confidence.
The Braves big chance came in the top of the 8th inning when Mallex Smith and Nick Markakis both walked and then Adonis Garcia blooped a single to load the bases for Jeff Francoeur. Unfortunately, Jeff Francoeur grounded in to an inning ending double play and that was that.
Predictably, the bullpen couldn't hold it together in the bottom half of the inning. After Jim Johnson put two runners on, manager Fredi Gonzalez brought lefty Eric O'Flaherty in to face Bryce Harper as opposed to Arodys Vizcaino. Given the earlier proclamations from Gonzalez that Arodys would be brought in during high leverage situations, this was confusing to say the least (welcome to the Fredi's School of Bullpen Management). Bryce proceeded to hit a two-run double on the first pitch to give the Nationals the lead, 2-0.
After that, the bottom of the Braves' lineup went quietly in the top of the 9th until Kelly Johnson doubled in a recently walked Gordon Beckham to give the Braves a glimmer of hope. However, Mallex Smith struck out swinging to end the game and sent the Braves to their 7th straight loss to start the season.