A day after the Marlins counter punched, the Braves came back with a counter punch of their own. So much for close one-run games, virtually every series we've played this year has had at least one, every game in this series was decided by eight runs. On Thursday night, the Braves and Tim Hudson got out to a comfortable lead early in the game against what should be one of the best pitchers in the league.
The Braves seemed to have a plan against Willis, taking a lot of pitches the other way to right field against the lanky left-hander. The result was ten hits, including four doubles, against the D-Train in only 2.2 innings of work, his shortest outing since April 30th of 2004 when he lasted just an inning against San Francisco. It's good to see the Braves have a game plan against a pitcher the caliber of Dontrelle (although, this year, he hasn't been that good).
For Atlanta, Tim Hudson continued his pattern of good game, bad game. Coming off of a bad game against the Mets last week in which he gave up six runs, he dominated the Marlins allowing only six base runners in as many innings. The only run he gave up came off a homerun from catcher Miguel Olivo. Chad Paronto, Ken Ray, and Oscar "livin' in the Villarreal world" all pitched scoreless relief innings.
Amazingly, in a series in which we plated 22 runs, we hit only one homerun. This may be a good sign. A sign that the Braves hitters, especially the Mendoza strikeout patrol, may be concentrating on making contact with the ball and putting it in play instead of trying to hit every pitch out of the park. Another encouraging sign was that in the three game series with the Fish, we only struck out a combined 16 times. Compare that with the 28 strikeouts we accumulated in the three game series over the weekend in New York and the 15 strikeouts in the two game series last week in Philadelphia. Perhaps patience at the plate is finally sinking in.
The best hitting performance of the day came from Matt Diaz, who got the start in left field against the left-hander. He had a five for five day, raising his average from .263 to .349. After finishing the first month of the season hitting just .200 (6 - 30), so far this month he is hitting a whopping .692 (9 - 13). Giles, Renteria, Chipper, Francoeur, and Pratt all contributed two hits a piece on the night, and every position player in the lineup had at least one hit as the Braves pounded out 18 total hits against the last place Marlins.
We once again head home from a losing road trip. A road trip that saw us drop four straight games at the start, only to rebound towards the end to put together three wins verses five losses. The next seven games are at home, and they are against cellar dwellers. Let's hope the team's newfound patience at the plate continues, as we need to finish the home-stand 6 - 1. If we can do that, we'll be heading out to the west coast (on yet another road trip) one game above .500. Baby steps, that's what we need to be doing, and .500 is our goal right now, to get back to .500. We can't be looking up at the standings wondering how many games out of first we are, it's too early for that kind of scoreboard watching.
Atlanta 9, Florida 1 at Dolphins Stadium
Atlanta Record: (15-19)
Florida Record: (9-23)
Winning pitcher - Tim Hudson (3-3)
Losing pitcher - Dontrelle Willis (1-4)