I know the Braves of recent vintage have a history of June swoons, but something tells me this team won't follow in that grand tradition. As Joe Simpson said today, "it's not June, it's just May 32nd." The Braves as a team seem to be embracing the "endless May" philosophy, as their first game in June was eerily similar to so many of their May performances: good pitching, good hitting (especially from the Glausosaur), and timely defensive plays.
After Tim Hudson set down the Phillies 1-2-3 to start the game, Troy Glaus* gave the Braves an early lead, smacking another 3-run homer to score Martin Prado and Chipper Jones. Soon after, a rain delay came, knocking out Phillies starter Cole Hamels after just 2/3 of an inning. Six Phillies relievers were able to finish off the last 7.1 innings, but they hardly shut down the torrid Braves offense. The Braves added 2 in the third off of Chad Durbin, 1 in the sixth off of Kenneth Herndon, and 1 in the 8th off of Danys Baez.
* By the way, Glaus is now hitting .277 / .375 / .452 and has 40 RBIs.
Unlike Hamels, Tim Hudson waited out the rain and did not even seem fazed by it, as he pitched 6 excellent innings. His only mistake came when he left a pitch up for Ryan Howard, who belted it for a 2-run homer. (Even that at-bat came with a bit of an asterisk, as home plate umpire Angel Campos blatantly missed a strike 3 call on a previous pitch.) Hudson's final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 6 K, and 10 out of 17 ground balls (59%). His WPA was 0.144, and yes, he added a hit as a batter to extend his hitting streak to 5 games.
The Braves' bullpen made it somewhat interesting, though the Phillies never got within 4 runs after the 3rd inning. The Phillies entered the 9th down 7-2 but scored a run off of Jonny Venters and loaded the bases. That brought up the tying run in the person of Ryan Howard. Fortunately, Billy Wagner came on and only needed 3 pitches to get Howard to bounce out to end the game.
That makes 7 straight wins for the Braves, and 17 of 21. The division lead is now at 1.5 games, and will grow even larger if the Braves can complete the sweep tomorrow afternoon. Let's keep it going, boys!
Huddy (line above)
Glaus-- 1/2, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB (1 IBB), 0.237 WPA
Talking Chop OT Commenters-- 3,503 comments over 3 threads (which I believe is the new record)
Yunel Escobar-- 2/3, RBI, BB, 0.045 WPA
Shane Victorino-- 0/5, 2 K, -0.120 WPA
Hamels-- 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, -0.265 WPA
MVP in a losing effort:
Carlos Ruiz-- 2/2, 2 BB, 0.103 WPA (suddenly he's an OBP machine... who knew?)
Glaus' homer (duh), 0.228 WPA
Wilson Valdez hitting into a hilarious 5-4-2 double play, with Carlos Ruiz somehow getting thrown out at home (-0.063 WPA)