Max Scherzer on the mound versus R.A Dickey does not usually sound like the formula to success for the Braves. However, it was Dickey who looked like the ace on Friday night. His knuckleball was working early, often and never stopped. He took a no hitter into the sixth inning, when Stephen Drew finally broke through for Washington with a double down the first base line. Drew would later go on and score the Nationals first run, tying it up at one going into the seventh inning.
That all changed when Freddie Freeman stepped up in the seventh against Scherzer and sent a mammoth shot down the first base line that stayed fair. Nobody was on, but the Braves had a 2-1 lead behind the power of Freddie Freeman, who has not missed a beat since coming back from the disabled list. The Braves were able to tack on two more eighth, behind who else Freddie Freeman, as he knocked in two with an opposite field single.
Freeman had made it known he wanted to be back for this huge series with the Nationals, and through the first 17 innings of this series he proved to be the difference in the two teams. But the Nats got one more chance in the bottom of the 9th with the heart of their lineup coming up. Jim Johnson has been shaky of late, and that continued, allowing the first four batters of the inning to reach. Washington would eventually tie the game on a Matt Wieters sacrifice fly, and the game would head to extras.
A Matt Kemp double play ended the Braves chances in the 10th. With a depleted bullpen, Atlanta went with Ian Krol in the bottom half of the inning. Like Johnson, Krol has been inconcsistent. He had no chance versus this powerful Nationals lineup, and a Daniel Murphy walk-off double sent the Braves home extremely disappointed.
It was a huge loss for a Braves team looking to take a nice chunk out of the Nationals first place lead heading into the All-Star break. If Atlanta was serious about competing for the division, you would think they would have to take at least three out of four in this series. That task now just got a whole lot tougher. Atlanta sends out Julio Teheran tomorrow afternoon to face Stephen Strasburg.
The Hawks front office woke up a little bit yesterday. They re-signed one of their own, Mike Muscala, to a two-year, $10 million deal. The contract also includes a player option in the second season.
Then Atlanta reached a buyout agreement with Jamal Crawford. Crawford was owed $17.2 million guaranteed in his final two seasons and had no intentions of wanting to play on a rebuilding Hawks team. According to the AJC’s Chris Vivalamore, Atlanta will be using the stretch provision to spread out the cap hit of the buyout.
The Hawks will use the stretch provision to spread the cap hit for Jamal Crawford.
— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) July 8, 2017
The team also renounced the rights to Ersan Illyasova, making him an unrestricted free agent. Illyasova was traded for by Atlanta midseason. There looked to be a chance he would have a future on this team through the rebuilding stages, but renouncing him may mean a much larger move is coming.
Lastly, today is the last day the Hawks can match the offer sheet of Tim Hardaway Jr.. But things are not looking too good. Hardaway Jr. said yesterday he looks forward to running the triangle.
Tim Hardaway Jr said he's looking forward to running the triangle…
— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) July 8, 2017
The Knicks offer appears to be large enough to scare the Hawks away, but Atlanta has shown in the past how hard it can be to part ways with their own players.
Today marks 2 years since we officially launched #ATLUTD 🎉
— Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) July 7, 2017
Yesterday celebrated the second year of the official launch of Atlanta United. Two great years down, many more to go!