Dan Uggla flexed the guns last night, and his 3 run bomb set the early tone for the Braves 5-1 victory. Also, Julio Teheran pitched his best game of the season, coming up just short of a complete game shutout. Almost every hitter touched a base, except for Gerald Laird. We can forgive him though, because he was calling a great game behind the plate. Justin and Francisco both had 2 hit days, Uggla had the early jack, Freeman singled in a run, and Simmons had a base hit and a sac-fly in the game. The RISP was only 2-7, so it fell just shy of the magic number, but the results don't lie. Wins are wins, and some come by the long ball.
It was nice for the Braves to jump out to a lead for once. You know the last time the Braves had the first run in the game? May 7th against the Reds, and we lost the game 5-4. Yeah, it's been almost two weeks of playing from behind. I'll pass on that, thank you very much. I prefer jumping out to a 4 run lead immediately, especially if it's Teheran or Hudson on the mound. They don't give those up. I'm sure Maholm is sitting in the dugout thinking, GUYS I LIKE RUNS TOO! In his 4 losses, he's had a grand total of 2 runs of support. Perhaps Teheran can get Maholm hitting, because Julio's batting at a .313 clip. It helps when you can score your own runs. In fact, Julio had the highest batting average in the entire lineup last night. How often do you see that in the NL? Answer: not much.
So why were the Braves successful against the Twins in this game? Simply put, they jumped on Correia early in favorable counts. Freeman's RBI came on a 2-1 count with runners on. Uggla's homer came on a 1-0 count with 2 men on. Other than Justin, everyone was keying on Correia's first 2-4 pitches instead of grinding him down. That was important, because as I discussed in the preview, the starters for the Twins are the weakness on their team, not the bullpen. That was exhibited last night as Correia gave up all 5 runs in 4 innings, and the Twins bullpen gave up only just 1 hit in 4 innings of work. You don't want to be trailing the Twins past the 6th inning. Things will not go well for teams that don't jump on the early stuff.
So Teheran went 8.1 innings with only 1 run given up, and that came on a meaningless homer in the 9th. The kid was just out of gas, but he looked good all game. He really took to heart the veteran starter mentality of pounding the strike zone when you have a lead. In his 123 pitches, 80 of them were for strikes. That's a hell of an average, and certainly meant that he wasn't going to give away many free passes. The main thing that can kill you as a starter with a sizable lead is walking people. Teheran didn't fall into that trap, and he got a solid ovation from both the fans and the dugout as he left the game with a huge smile.
The CPA was only 1 run off the score last night, so it moves to 23-14. How does it feel about Hudson's chances back in Turner Field?
CPA Prediction Game 2: Braves 7 - Twins 0
The CPA is predicting a shutout. The Twins, those that have seen Hudson anyway, have been hitting .107 against him. On the home turf, Hudson is undefeated. Meanwhile, Pelfrey had been destroyed in the past by Bmac, Uggs, and Justin. Five starters on the Braves have OPS of 1.000+ against Pelfrey. The CPA is essentially predicting a public horsewhipping of the Twins on paper. Now, I know from experience that things don't usually play out that way, especially if the numbers are THIS bad. However, it's a good indicator that we have a large mismatch on our hands if (large IF) Hudson can be the guy we've seen so far at home, lock in on his sinker, and pitch angry.