Tommy Hanson went six strong innings, throwing 101 pitches while striking out seven and allowing only three hits. The only real mistake he made was a gopher ball served up to Prince Fielder leading off the fourth inning. The Braves bullpen took over in the seventh with a scoreless inning from Eric O’Flaherty. Scott Linebrink gave up a run in the eighth, pushing his ERA over 5.00 on the season. Cory Gearrin pitched a scoreless ninth to finish things out.
To me, the best news came from the fact that the Braves struck for 13 hits on the game. With the makeup of this team, the most surefire indicator of good things to come is when the team reaches double-digits in hits. Even more significantly, all the Braves starters except for Dan Uggla got a hit, and Martin Prado got three. This team will hit homers. They won’t steal many bases. OBP then becomes the key that turns solo homers into multi-run shots. And OBP drives scoring in those circumstances, like today, where no homers are hit. Simplistic? Yes! Accurate? Also yes.
I’ve been saying all along that it is incredible that this team could be playing .500 ball while hitting about .225 with an OBP of .300. The Braves hitters are better than that. Coupled with the fact that the Braves luck has not been terribly good in the first 30 games, losing in extra-innings and in one run games much more often that last year, and it argues that a run of really good baseball is coming. The team is now 8-3 over the last 11 games, with two of the losses coming in extra innings. I think the good baseball is already started. I’m not ready to concede the division; are you?