Some losses feel a little bit strange: Like the Braves finding a lead their bullpen couldn’t hold and a deficit their hitters couldn’t overcome.

Others are just so why-him as to beggar belief: Nick Markakis, the Brave who battled himself more than any other over the idea of playing ball amid a pandemic, finding himself on the injured list after potential exposure to the coronavirus. Which pretty much just makes him like every other resident of Georgia.

Just another night at the ol’ empty ballpark Tuesday.

The Braves fell to the Washington Nationals 8-5, after the relay of relievers they trotted out this night started well enough, but then one of the middle guys dropped the baton.

The Braves do-everything, human universal wrench of a pitcher, Josh Tomlin, made his first start of the season – the ninth Braves starter in just 25 games. Dependable as always, he threw his 51 pitches, gave up six hits, striking out two and walking one – intentionally mind you – and left in the fourth inning with a 5-2 lead.

He might have preferred to go one more inning.

“It was kind of set up good for us, actually,” recounted Braves manager Brian Snitker afterward. But the problem was that Tomlin is normally that guy who gets you from, say, the fifth inning to the seventh. But now that bridge was burned. On came Tyler Matzek.

“I was planning on bringing in Matzek after Josh. Josh did great, exactly what we needed him to do and was kind of hoping Tyler could go two innings,” Snitker said. “Things were falling into line then that fifth inning got away from us. It happens – the best-laid plans.”

Matzek, who had been another reliable component of the Braves bullpen (allowing no runs in his first six appearances, and only two over 11 innings of relief), got real human real quickly.

Once Braves right fielder Marcell Ozuna misplayed a possible single into a triple by leadoff man Trae Turner, the fifth began to unravel. Next you know, Matzek had allowed six hits and four runs and retired only one National.

Few pitchers would put this game on their resume, as both teams combined for 31 hits. But it was Matzek who had to wear the loss.

In their half of the inning, the Braves, who just the night before made another of their trademark rallies by scoring four in the ninth, were served an omen that this would not be an occasion for comebacks. Then trailing 6-5, Austin Riley drove a ball destined to be lost beyond the center-field fence. But the Nats Victor Robles leapt, plucked the ball from the other side and showed all the world that it was in his glove. He’d have his moment on all the late-night highlight shows.

“I thought it was out. I didn’t think there was any doubt,” Snitker said. “In 2019 (with a livelier ball) that’s way out. He hit that ball really, really good, man. The kid made an unbelievable catch regardless. Off the bat, I thought there was no doubt it was out.”

Other opportunities went unfulfilled, the Braves leaving 11 on base and going 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

The Braves incurred an even more quizzical loss before first pitch, as Markakis’ on-again, off-again tour of baseball in the age of coronavirus went suddenly dark once more. Moments before the start of the game it was announced he was placed on the injured list not for testing positive for COVID-19 – he hadn’t yet – but for being in the proximity of someone who had.

Concern over the virus had caused Markakis to opt out from playing to begin the season, but, longing for the game, he returned three weeks later. The threat of the disease then found one of the Braves hottest hitters – Markakis was batting .353 through 11 games. In his stead, the team called up top prospect Cristian Pache, who rushed to Truist Park from the team’s secondary camp in Gwinnett, arriving less than an hour before game time. He did not appear in Tuesday’s game. But Snitker said he just might start him Wednesday.

The manager, who said Markakis was exposed away from the ballpark, listed his return as day-to-day, just another uncertainty heaped upon the rest.