The Atlanta Braves were powerless on Sunday as Max Scherzer turned in a dominant performance in an 9-4 loss to the Washington Nationals. Atlanta’s nine-game winning streak comes to an end and they miss out on a chance to sweep Washington in a four-game series for the first time ever.
While we will stop short of saying that Mike Soroka came into Sunday’s game struggling, he certainly isn’t in his best stretch of the season. Soroka struggled with his command again on Sunday as he and the Braves fell behind early.
Trea Turner singled to lead off the game and Adam Eaton followed with a homer to center field off Soroka to give the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. Washington would strike again in the second as Yan Gomes jumped on an elevated change up and drove it into the left center stands to make it 3-0.
The Braves would scratch against Scherzer in the bottom half of the inning when Matt Joyce turned around a 3-2 cutter and drove it out to right to make it 3-1.
However, the Nationals would answer right back in the third as Juan Soto drove a towering shot down the left field line that caromed off of the left field foul pole for a home run to make it 4-1.
Things got a bit testy in the fifth after Soroka struck out Turner to lead off the inning. Turner protested the called third strike call made by home plate umpire Mike Estabrook and was ejected. That would bring Nationals manager Dave Martinez out of the dugout and he too was given the early exit.
Nationals shortstop Trea Turner and manager Dave Martinez have been ejected arguing balls and strikes. pic.twitter.com/ZivtCssfjl— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) September 8, 2019
Soroka would settle in holding Washington scoreless over his final three innings. He would exit having allowed seven hits and four runs over six innings. He struck out seven and walked one. Soroka allowed a career-high three home runs and has now allowed five in his last two starts.
The Nationals would blow the game open in the seventh against reliever Chad Sobotka. Gomes led off the inning with another homer to make it 5-1. Scherzer then followed with an opposite field single. Sobotka struck out Wilmer Difo for the first out but Eaton followed with a double down the right field line on a ball that took a bad hop and bounced over Freddie Freeman at first to make it 6-1. A walk to Anthony Rendon would end Sobotka’s day as Brian Snitker would turn to A.J. Minter.
Minter got Soto to line out to right sharply for the second out but Asdrubal Cabrera lined a 2-2 fastball into the right center gap for a double to score to and make it 8-1. Minter would escape further damage by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning.
Sobotka’s line was ugly as he was charged with three hits and four runs in just a third of an inning of work. His ERA for the season now sits at a bloated 6.84.
After adding on the extra runs, the Nationals would pull Scherzer between innings. He turned in one of his best outings since the All-Star break allowing just two hits and one run over six innings. He struck out nine and walked just one.
The Nationals would tack on their final run in the ninth run-scoring single by Cabrera off of Jeremy Walker.
Atlanta’s offense would finally come to life in the ninth. Charlie Culberson snapped an 0-for-26 stretch with a solo home run to make it 9-2. Francisco Cervelli drove home Johan Camargo with a ground-rule double to left and Adam Duvall singled home Cervelli to cap off the scoring at 9-4.
Despite the loss, it was still a heck of a homestand for Atlanta. The Braves went 9-1 with series wins over the White Sox, Blue Jays and Nationals. They will now head out on a seven-game trip which begins on Monday with a four-game set in Philadelphia before wrapping up next weekend in Washington.