The Braves struck early for two runs in the first due to a single by Martin Prado and double by Jason Heyward to lead off the game. Chipper Jones sac flied Prado in and after Brian McCann walked, McCann was caught in a rundown between first and second that allowed Heyward to run home for the second run. This was in due in large part to Heyward’s heads up running, but also because of the Nationals’ terrible defense.
Hudson pitched four scoreless innings to begin his outing, with the only threat coming in the third with runners on the corners after two singles, but Hudson induced a double play to end the threat. A leadoff double by Ivan Rodriguez eventually led to an RBI single by Mike Morse to break the shutout in the fifth. But Hudson settled down and pitched scoreless ball the rest of the way.
The Braves scored their only other run in the fifth when Prado doubled and Chipper singled him in. It’s no coincidence that the Braves score runs when Prado is on base and tonight is a perfect example of that. He went 3-5 and scored two of the three runs, something that has been missing lately. The Braves couldn’t manage anything else after the fifth thanks to the Nationals bullpen, which pitched 4.2 scoreless innings. But the Braves were good to work Livan Hernandez, getting to him for three runs on six hits in 4.1 innings and making him throw 85 pitches.
Hudson was pulled with two outs in the eighth after walking Ryan Zimmerman, and Jonny Venters was brought in to face Adam Dunn, who represented the tying run. Venters worked Dunn perfectly and got him to strike out on a curve away, recording his 13th hold. Billy Wagner pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save.
Hudson allowed seven hits in 7.2 innings but only one was for extra bases and the majority were dunks. He only walked one and struck out seven, and threw just 96 pitches. And for that reason I am backing off my “lucky Hudson” talk more with each start. Hudson was constantly ahead of hitters all night and induced 12 grounders to four fly balls.
The only hitters who were involved besides Prado were Heyward, who reached base three times and scored the only other run on the steal home, and Chipper, who drove in Prado twice. Melky Cabrera reached base twice on a double and walk, and it seems his sole purpose in life these days is to avoid having the pitcher lead off the next inning. Matt Diaz replaced Eric Hinske in the fifth with a lefty on the mound, though the lefty was swapped out and Diaz saw two righties. They were a combined 0-4. That’s not exactly how you manage a platoon, but it seems obvious Bobby is quicker to pull Hinske now. We’ll see how that plays out going forward.
According to the AJC, no decision has been made on Venters’ appeal yet, and it could be either Thursday or Friday before we know. In the same piece, it’s reported Eric O’Flaherty has begun soft toss but is nowhere near returning. It looks like Mike Dunn will be the sole lefty for at least a couple games by this weekend.
Also reported by the AJC, Tommy Hanson has hired Scott Boras as his agent. Whether this changes how soon and how easy extension talks will be, I don’t know. Frank Wren hasn’t had such terrible experiences with Boras like John Schuerholz did.