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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Double Feature Post: Braves Take Final Two At PETCO To Win Series


Brave starter Tommy Hanson pitched six effective innings and the Braves exacted a bit of revenge for Monday's thrashing, defeating the Padres 6-1.

Hanson and Padres left-hander Clayton Richard, who looked extra-intimidating in the Padres' camouflage jerseys and green cap, traded zeroes for four-and-a-half innings. The Braves
had just three hits in their five half-innings and struck out five times.

San Diego struck first in the fifth. With one out, Hanson nicked Richard on the shin with a breaking ball. After striking out Everth Cabrera, David Eckstein singled and Adrian Gonzalez followed with another single, driving home Cabrera. Hanson got out of the inning by getting Kyle Blanks to ground out to Chipper at third. He finished the day with four hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.

The Braves struck back quickly in the top of the sixth. With one out, Martin Prado hit a double past Gonzalez down the right field line, bringing his consecutive game hit streak to twelve. Chipper Jones walked and Brian McCann smacked a double to right-center to score two and give the Braves the lead again. Troy Glaus singled him to third and he was erased on a fielder's choice to third. Jason Heyward then singled Glaus home. Hanson only allowed a walk in the sixth to finish his day.

Atlanta added three more in the seventh with Troy Glaus's first home run of the season. The 417-foot shot to left that landed in the second deck upped the score to 6-1 and that's where it stayed. Peter Moylan, Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner each pitched a scoreless inning for the Braves; Saito and Wagner struck out two batters each.

My Take: I've sometimes questioned the way Bobby Cox uses his relievers, but it's all right that Moylan, Saito and Wagner pitched in this game; Moylan hadn't been in a game in three days and Saito and Wagner were shelved for four. Wagner did throw in the pen in Lowe's last start. As Joe Simpson and Chip Caray mentioned in the color commentary, it's a question of "rest vs. rust".

At long last, Troy Glaus had his first extra-base hit of the season. This streak (7 games) was the longest that Glaus has started a season without an extra-base hit. His previous high was three games, starting the 2000 season with the Angels. His repaired shoulder may still be a factor for him.

Brian McCann had two doubles in Wednesday's game. That marks the 32nd time he has had two extra-base hits in a game and the 13th time he has had two doubles in a game.


Despite Tim Hudson's impression of teammate Derek Lowe, the Braves held off the Padres on Throwback Thursday/Jackie Robinson Day and pulled away in the eighth inning to earn a 6-2 victory.

Both teams sported uniforms from the 1984 season. What was unusual about them is that every player wore #42 as part of an MLB-wide tribute to Robinson, baseball's first black player to break the "unofficial" color line. That was 63 years ago today. Prior to that, the last black player to play a major league game was Moses Fleetwood Walker, a catcher who played 42 games for the American Association's Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884.

The baby-blue clad Braves struck quickly off of Padre starter Mat Latos. Martin Prado hit a long home run to left field that gave the Braves an early 1-0 lead. They tried for more in the second, but Jerry Hairston, Jr., who plays just about every position, made two excellent plays to take hits away from Yunel Escobar and Jason Heyward in the second inning.

The two combined to get the Braves a second run in the fourth. With two out, Escobar singled and stole second base. Heyward then smacked a long double to right-center that scored Escobar. Atlanta added a run in the fifth when Chipper Jones, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored on Brian McCann's double to left-center.

Will Venable, who was 12-35 with four homers and 11 runs scored against the Braves in 8 games plus two at-bats, added a fifth homer that bounced off of the top of the scoreboard in right field. After a great jumping grab by Prado and a bouncer back to Hudson, pinch hitter Matt Stairs doubled to right-center and Cabrera chased him home with a single.

From that moment, the Braves bullpen shut down the Padres for the rest of the game. Kris Medlen, Eric O'Flaherty, Moylan, Saito and Wagner combined four 3 1/3 innings of no-hit, no-run ball with four strikeouts.

To support the effort the Braves added three runs in the eighth inning. Jones walked and stole second. After McCann popped up and Glaus struck out, Escobar singled past a diving Chase Headley at third and the ball was deflected into left field, allowing Chipper to score standing up. Heyward then launched an opposite-field blast that nearly gave him his fourth homer of the year. Instead, the ball bounced off the warning track, giving him a double that scored Escobar. Eric Hinske brought Heyward home with an opposite-field single.

My Take And Odds 'N Ends: While I still believe that having every player wear #42 was tacky, the annoyance subsided as the game wore on. It was a little humorous to see "42" displayed in everyone's number slot graphic on SportsSouth.

I think a more meaningful tribute would be to have one player nominated or elected from each team to wear #42 from now on. Some teams may not have to do that, like the Yankees.

1984 was also the year of an intense game between the Braves and Padres that became a beanball war from the very first pitch. The August 12th game featured three bench-clearing fights, with several Braves players, two Padre pitchers and both managers being ejected. Two Padres coaches serving as managers were also ejected. There were even a few fans who were arrested for joining the fighting. Pascual Perez, the target of the Padres pitchers the entire night for hitting Alan Wiggins with the first pitch, pitched eight innings of five-hit ball, allowing just one run. He got removed for a pinch-runner after he was finally hit by a pitch in the bottom of the eighth.

After walking no one in his first start against the Giants, Tim Hudson was bit by whatever walk bug bit Derek Lowe and he lost control with his pitches. In his Braves career, Hudson has walked five batters seven times; he has a 3-4 record in those games. Even more interesting: in each win, Hudson allowed exactly two earned runs.

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