Tim Hudson has been near perfect over his career when given a lead of three or more runs and today he improved that record to 89-1 for his career. Hudson was excellent over seven innings in the Braves 9-1 route of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The right-hander allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out four to earn the win. He induced thirteen groundball outs and most of the hits came on grounders, which is what you want to see from a sinker ball pitcher like Hudson. Peter Moylan kept on dominating with a quick inning in the eighth and his 2.08 ERA leads all major league rookies. Jose Ascanio, who replaced Wil Ledezma on the roster made his major league debut in the ninth. He got hit pretty hard but still came away with two strikeouts. He could be a decent middle reliever in the future. He's got great command of a 92-94 mph fastball (that gun was cranked up) and a usable slider. He isn't going to be a long-term option any time soon though.
Hudson had a tough opponent in Pirates ace Ian Snell, but the Braves tonight were one of the few teams to handle the righty easily. Snell allowed three unearned runs in the first after a botched play by former Brave Adam LaRoche with two outs. Snell followed that up by allowing a walk to the surging Andruw Jones and a homerun to Brian McCann, putting himself in an early hole. The sixth inning was the frame that sunk the Pirate Ship though. Andruw Jones and Brian McCann started the inning off with back-to-back homers, followed by RBI singles by Tim Hudson, Edgar Renteria, and a sacrifice fly by Matt Diaz later in the inning. All in all the Braves put up a six-run inning in the sixth to put the game out of reach.
Chuck James heads to the mound tomorrow in a matchup of two good young lefties as he toes the rubber against his Pirates counterpart, Tom Gorzelanny. The Braves win today coupled with the Mets loss moves the Braves to one and a half games out. The same ending tomorrow would mean the Braves would move to within a half game of first place in the East.
I have one more note for you guys. I am leaving tomorrow night for a ten day vacation in Germany and Amsterdam. I'm not sure how much internet access I will have. Kristi is very busy studying for the bar exam and John is very occupied right now with his job so there might not be much going on during the ten-day period. I'll try to pop in and get something up for all of you to read at least a couple times though.