The Atlanta Braves continue an impressive spring with an 8-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Tim Hudson, who is 3-1 with an ERA well below 2.00, pitched six scoreless innings. The Braves only needed one home run from Brian McCann to win, but he hit two. Martin Prado also hit one (he is my fantasy draft steal in mixed leagues).
A.J. Happ pitched for the Phillies. Obviously, he didn’t pitch well. Could he be having the sophomore slump?
The Braves are hitting and pitching well. The only person really struggling is Nate McLouth, who still will likely bat for average this year.
But is this early success a precursor to what this season might be like? I guess it could go both ways. This early success could bode well for a Braves team that isn’t getting a lot of attention. Or this early success could mean everyone is going to burn out in July.
This is the first time I can recall the Braves looking like a real team. The pitching staff is one of the strongest in the National League. The batting may not have a ton of power, but there are good hitters in the lineup. All that counts is runs; no one cares how they come to the plate.
If Chipper Jones can rebound from his worst season, and certain role players like Martin Prado, Yunel Escobar and Troy Glaus can produce above-average seasons, along with a pitching staff that could have a Cy Young winner in the bunch, who dares say the Braves cannot make the playoffs in 2010?
It’s Bobby Cox’s last season. He’s bazillion years old and a bit crotchety. He gets booted from so many games that it is hard to even consider him the coach. He is more a spiritual leader. He’s Yoda.
After basking in 14 years straight of seeing the Braves in the playoffs, fans have endured almost decade of pain and disappointment.
Yet, I cannot recall a team like this since those glory days–and I say that with a bit of hesitance because winning one World Series during that run wasn’t actually gloriful.
But at least the Braves were still playing in October.