You give Tim Hudson 4 runs, and he'll give you a win. That's simple math. In fact it's so simple that Tim's been 156-6 when he gets 4 runs or more in his career. That's why the Mets spotting Tim 5 runs in the 3rd inning turned out to be such a diaster for them, and such a happy situation for us. The Braves batted around in a singles and doubles onslaught that showcased exactly how the Braves can beat teams without the long ball. Then, for good measure, Freddie Freeman decided to showcase the long ball as well.
Hudson has been brilliant in his last two starts, and the reason for his success is his command. He's keeping the ball down in the zone, and he's not giving up many walks. Yesterday, he only walked one man in 7.1 innings, had 7 Ks, and went 22/28 first pitch strikes to hitters. He was working over batters from the word GO. The only guy Huddy couldn't slow down was David freaking Wright. The guy is playing like Captain America against the Braves. Wright had a 2/3 day with a walk, a homer, 2 RBIs, and 2 runs scored. If the Mets, or any team for that matter, had a team of guys like Wright they would win a world series. As much as I can't stand playing the guy I respect what he can do on the field, and I wish he would reconsider his stance on staying with the Mets. He's better than that team, and he should be on a contender somewhere. Maybe far away in the AL West? Just a thought.
Braves batters woke up just in time to get a rainy split in the shortened series. They roughed up Niese with 7 hits, 6 walk, and 7 runs. Freeman was the biggest damage dealer going 3/5 with 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored, and a homer. Gattis was next with a 2/4 day, an RBI, and a run scored. Reed Johnson took advantage of his start with a 2/4 day and 3 RBIs. Overall, the Braves went 4/13 with RISP, which is a .308 average. That's above the magic number, and it's no shock we won another one. I also liked to see our struggling hitters like BJ and Dan getting on base. Combined they went 2/6 with 3 walks. That's a big improvement over what we've seen in April. Sure, the strikeouts will always be there, and they may come in horrible situations, but the more those guys get on the bags, the better our chances at winning games and rolling over the order. BJ especially is a danger on the bases with his speed, although we haven't seen it featured much yet.
I give Fredi G a lot of credit for playing the right lineup this time. I'd questioned his decision in the last week to leave out Chris and Reed Johnson when the numbers pointed at them being key in the matchup. This time, he put both of them in, and although Chris only got one walk, Reed went off for 3 RBIs. That's no offense to Francisco, but he had no track record against Niese. I like to play the odds with hitters we know, rather than giving the pitcher an advantage with hitters he's never faced. So, why was Reed so successful yesterday? In a word, aggressiveness. Reed was coming up during rallies and looking for pitches to handle early in the counts. Normally in a close game with nobody on base, that's a bad idea. However, when a good pitcher's been walking people and you have runners on, Reed knew that he was going to get a early strike. As such, whenever a ball was near the zone, he was hacking and it paid off. That kind of selective aggression is key to hitting. The good hitters know when to turn it on and off based on the situation.
The bad news was the bullpen. They were a pitch away from being a complete disaster again. I'm not sure if it's the Mets, or the weather, or the fact they were looking ahead to the road trip. Whatever it was, the bullpen couldn't find the zone in this series, and it was horrifying to watch in the 8th inning. At one point, it was 8-4 with the bases loaded and 2 outs. A single swing could have tied that game, and we'd be talking about something completely different today. As it turned out, EOF got Byrd to chase a bad pitch on a full count, and we got out of the jam. Still, there was ZERO reason we should have been in that jam. We had two outs and a runner on second before the wheels came off with walks and a plunked batter. However, we shouldn't worry too much about EOF walking in a run. That was his first walk since April 9th in 9 appearances, and nobody got a hit that could have been severely damaging.
Now, the Braves head to Cincy for a 3 game series with the Reds, and the start of another long road trip because the MLB schedulers apparently can't count. Want the good news? Cincy is only 5-5 in their last 10 games. Want the bad news? Cincy has won their last 3 in a row, and has a 12-4 record in their home stadium. This series is going to be tough, and we have to be ready. Preview later today.