After losing their last 9 games Atlanta took care of business by sweeping the struggling Houston Astros. It really has been the tale of two teams this season for the Braves. When Jason Heyward plays well so does Atlanta. You can call it coincidence, or whatever else you can think of, but this kid is the heart of the team. It truly is a lot of pressure for the 20 year old phenom, but he is proving to be mature far beyond his years. Heyward is on pace to hit 50 home runs, and a 150 RBI’s. Now I’m not saying this is going to happen, but he definitely has the potential to get pretty close to that mark. If he does it will surely go down as the best rookie season in Major League Baseball history. Baseball has always been fixated on records, and statistics and this is no different.
Tommy Hanson (2-2) (2.17 era) was the victor in game 1 against Houston pitching 8 strong innings. Hanson allowed 2 2nd inning runs only to retire the next 20 of 21 hitters. I have been watching Hanson very closely all season, and the kid gets stronger each time out. In game 1 he was consistently around 90-91 mph, and by his 5th start of the season was clocked at 94-96 mph. I’ll take a pitcher who can hit his spots over velocity any day of the week, but I also am aware that a 90 mph mistake pitch is a lot easier to hit than a 96 mph one. Fortunately for Atlanta Tommy Hanson was a double threat with pin point accuracy as well as a mid 90′s heater. Atlanta broke the 2-2 deadlock in the 3rd inning after a Nate McLouth walk, and a 2 run bomb from Heyward. Other notable offense came from the struggling Nate McLouth with a HR and a single. The Braves took game one 4-2 over the Astros to end their 9 game skid.
Tim Hudson (2-1) (2.87 era) continued his dominance over hitters by giving up 1 run on 5 hits in 6.2 innings of work. If Hudson, Hanson, and Lowe can continue outings like this Atlanta might find themselves in pretty good shape with some timely hitting. Troy Glaus had the big bat in game 2 by knocking in 4 runs on 3 hits including a double. Glaus is only hitting .221 on the season, but anyone who has actually watched the games knows his stroke is right on cue. This guy has been getting his swing on all season, but has fell victim to more web gems than one could possibly imagine. With the way Glaus has been swinging the bat it is only a matter of time before the ball stats to fall. Jason Heyward also hit his 2nd home run in as many games. Atlanta’s up and coming prodigy 2nd baseman Martin Prado had yet another nonchalant game with 3 hits and 2 RBI’s. I know Heyward gets a lot of of the hype, and I may be guilty of it too, but Prado is hitting the quietest .368 I have ever seen. This guy laces them up everyday and does the job. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite guys to watch week in and week out. Atlanta went on to blow out Houston by a 10-1 margin.
Braves ace Derek Lowe (4-2) took the bump in the series finale, and did not disappoint. Lowe went 5 innings only surrendering the one earned run. The offensive hero was yet again Jason Heyward who recorded another 2 hits and 3 RBI’s. Melky Cabrera also finally got in on the offensive attack driving in 3 runs on 2 hits bringing his brutal average up to .213.
After losing 9 straight games before the series with Houston I said that the Braves needed to take a good look at themselves in the mirror, and decide whether or not they were going to remain a competitor in the NL-East. I know a sweep over the Astros isn’t something to write home to mom about, but it sure is a start in the right direction. The resurgent Braves start a 3 game series in Washington tomorrow night with the expected starters being Kawakami, Hanson, and Hudson. Look for Atlanta to keep the momentum going by starting a new streak they can call their own.
About the Author
Written by Bill Furey
My name is Bill Furey, and I am from Chelmsford, Massachusetts. I am 25 years old, and a complete baseball guru. This will be my first year blogging for major league baseball, and I am really looking forward to both voicing my opinion as well as covering games. As a former 3rd basemen for the University of Massachusetts-Lowell I got the amazing opportunity to compete, admire, and most importantly learn from some of the most talented players, and coaches this great game has to offer. Growing up in New England I have always been a die hard fan of the Sox, Pats, Celts, and Bruins. My love, understanding, and respect for the game of baseball takes major precedent in my life. I currently coach one of Massachusetts best 13 year old baseball teams. Teaching the game of baseball to young talented players is something I truly look forward to every time I take the field. The relationships I built from this wonderful game are better than any home run, stolen base, or any winning season. Baseball has given me life lessons I couldn't have learned anywhere else in the world. A baseball quote that best describes my passion for the game is this: "You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." Jim Bouton, Ball Four, 1970. I look forward to covering the Atlanta Braves this season, and getting some great feedback from my followers. Play ball.