It’s amazing how good things can happen when you drive runners in. The Braves won a big series against the Giants by claiming three of the four contests at Turner Field. The team hit .349 (8-23) with runners in scoring in position over the final two games of the series. Certainly much better than the sub-Mendoza line performance we’ve seen over the past few weeks. Not only are the Braves finally beginning to hit with RISP, but they’re also starting to display much more power. Chipper complimented his two shots last week against the Mets with another blast on Friday, while Ross (1), Infante (1), Gonzalez (2) and Hinske (1) all added homers of their own. An extra-inning home run off of Billy Wagner on Friday prevented the Braves from sweeping the playoff-contending Giants and a shocking blown foul call in Florida on Thursday prevented them from picking up an extra game on the Phillies, but the team still finished the week with a slim two game lead in the NL East. The Braves are 5-2 in their last 7 games. That’s more like how a first place team should be playing. As a fan from Upstate, NY, it was also nice to see Sunday's game on TBS. Brought me back to the good ol' days that turned me into a Braves fan in the first place.
There were certainly some notable performances during the series (including two spectacular double-play starters by Gonzo), but Tim Hudson’s dominant outing on Saturday likely topped them all. Huddy picked up his 13th win of the season with an impressive 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 6 K, 1 BB line. Even more notable was a 17-1 groundout to flyout stat..that sinker was WORKING. At 2/3 of the way through the season, nearly all the NL Cy Young talk has understandably involved Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay, but Tim Hudson is showing that he needs to be added to that discussion. As of Sunday evening, Hudson is:
• 3rd in ERA (2.24), ahead of Halladay and Jimenez
• 4th in Wins (13), ahead of Johnson
• 7th in WHIP (1.10), ahead of Jimenez
• T-2nd in Quality Start % (83%), ahead of Halladay and Jimenez
Monday will bring with it the much anticipated major league debut of 2009 first-round draft pick Mike Minor. He'll take the rotation spot of Kris Medlen, who was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and may need Tommy John surgery. Minor has gone 4-1 with a 1.89 ERA in since his mid-season call-up to Gwinnett while adding nearly 10K/9IP. The 7th overall pick will be starting for the Braves against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Despite trading away Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman within the past month, Houston’s been putting on an impressive offensive performance since the All-Star break. They’ve averaged more than 5 runs per game since the mid-summer classic and more than 7 runs per game over the past 10. We’ll see if Minor can quiet them up a bit. I’m excited for his debut.
In addition to the Minor debut, Jurrjens and Hanson will match-up against Norris, Happ and Rodriguez, respectively, during the three-game series against the ‘Stros.