Braves-Nationals: Pitching combusts as Washington takes finale

James HulkaAnalyst IJuly 20, 2008

Jo-Jo Reyes got the Nats in order in the top of the first, then saw Mark Teixeira give him a 1-0 with a 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the first.

It was all downhill from there for the Braves.

Reyes was wild - as evidenced by his 6 runs, 7 hits and 4 walks in just 2 1/3 innings. For the Nats' Odalis Perez wasn't really any better, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings. The only difference was that Reyes left too many pitches in the middle of the plate that found a hole after walks filled the bases in losing to the Nationals 15-6 at Turner Field.

Umpire Chris Guccione didn't help. Bobby Cox had every right to be angry with Guccione's tight and very inconsistent strike zone after a close pitch by Buddy Carlyle walked in a run in the 3rd inning. Carlyle did a pretty good job of showing restraint by quietly walking off the mound and looking off into the outfield after what was maybe a strike resulted in another run.

The calls went both ways really. Many of the pitches from both teams' pitchers were close and weren't called strikes, and other ones later being farther off the plate being called strikes. Guccione's over-reaction in the 3rd by instigating an argument with Carlyle was completely uncalled for. Carlyle didn't show him up whether he thinks so or not. Bobby Cox got thrown out for arguing which I'm sure he didn't care to, but he backed up his player when the ump was clearly wrong. If the Nats were behind, it would've been very easy for Manny Acta to have a similar beef with Guccione because he was simply awful today.

However, it was Cox who got tossed, but got his earful in before he left. Joe Simpson said on the Braves broadcast that "35,000 didn't pay to see Chris Guccione umpire the game". He's right. MLB should fine and suspend Guccione for his uncalled for actions in today's game.

The fans wanted to see the Braves rebound from a flat effort on Saturday and instead saw former Braves players Ryan Langerhans and Willie Harris torment the Braves in the series finale.

It's kind of sad, but the Braves fans who showed up today didn't get a chance to savor Mark Teixeira's 2 HR performance in what may have been his final home game as a Brave. Considering all those factors - no one can really blame Bobby Cox if he's upset right now.