In my humble opinion (the only one that really matters), this was the Braves best game of the season. Hanson pitched a gem and the Braves finally gave him some run support from the early going. Clutch hitting gave the Braves an early lead and powerful home runs secured some extra cushion. Defensively, the Braves were phenomenal. Seemingly nothing was getting out of the infield for the Marlins. And if it was, Nate McLouth was tracking it down.
Right from the beginning, Hanson was on top of his game. He was consistently hitting 94 and even 95 at times with his fastball, while utilizing his change-up effectively to keep the hitters off-balance. Early on, the only real trouble Hanson got into was a leadoff double by Stanton in the second. But Hanson quickly calmed down and did not allow Stanton to score while easily retiring the side. On the other side, Volstad started out strong as well pitching a hitless first and second inning. However, after 17 straight scoreless innings, the Braves’ bats finally got rolling. Prado singled with two outs to become the Braves’ first baserunner and McLouth (yes, McLouth) crushed a ball left up by Volstad to the warning track to chase Prado home. Chipper coolly knocked McLouth home with a single to put the Braves up 2-0 before McCann grounded out on the first pitch of his at-bat.
From there, the game was never really in doubt. Hanson allowed very few base-runners, surrendering only 4 hits and 2 walks before the bullpen took over in the 8th. Alex Gonzalez stood out defensively by robbing two hits, one of which came with two runners on, which not only saved a run, but also stopped a possible rally by the Marlins. Uggla not only got his first hit (a double) in Turner Field, but (much to this writer’s pleasant surprise) is still fielding much better than anticipated.
As I mentioned before, the Braves also displayed power that has been lacking of late. With only 6 homers coming into the game (near the bottom of the league in this category), the Braves added two more off the bats of Heyward and McCann, which helped to cushion the lead to 5-0 at the end of the 5th. The Braves bullpen with O’Flaherty, Moylan, and Linebrink easily took care of the Marlins late and never allowed the game to be in doubt. Also, of note Chipper now stands at 1499 RBIs after his clutch 2 RBI performance.
This game was filled with almost nothing but positives, except for the very low attendance on this Tuesday night. Fredi Gonzales and Uggla were able to easily take care of their former team and the Braves dominated every aspect of the game. This game showed the potential of the Braves if they can consistently garner run support.
The Braves will take on the Marlins again at 7:10 ET tonight. Hopefully, we’ll celebrate another Braves win and Chipper’s 1500th RBI.