There's no place like home, especially if you're Toto or the Braves. Returning from a brutal road trip, the Braves immediately jumped all over Johan Santana, scoring three runs in the first inning. The big blows were an RBI double by Matt Diaz (who had two more hits against his favorite pitcher) and a two-run single by new Brave Rick Ankiel.
The Braves offense kind of fell asleep for the rest of the night (with some help from Johan Santana), but those three runs were more than enough for Tim Hudson and the Braves bullpen. Hudson struggled somewhat with his control, walking three men and throwing 40 balls out of 107 pitches. That led to some extended innings, despite the fact that he really only had one hard-hit ball off of him. The only line drive was a rocket double by Carlos Beltran in the fifth that scored Jose Reyes for the Mets' only run. It wasn't a vintage Hudson performance, but he certainly still got the job done: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 10/21 ground balls (48%), and a 0.197 WPA.
The Braves' relief trio of Jonny Venters (perfect inning, K), Takashi Saito (scoreless inning), and Billy Wagner (perfect inning, K) shut down the Mets the rest of the way.
The Braves struggled a bit with runners in scoring position again. In particular, they had leadoff doubles in three different innings (2nd inning by Hudson, 3rd inning by Diaz, and 6th inning by Ankiel) and did not score in any of those innings. Some of the blame/credit for that has to go to Mets starter Johan Santana, though, who struck out 11 and looked very good after the first inning. The only run the Braves scored after the first was on a Chipper Jones solo homer in the seventh. Still, you usually don't need many RISP hits when Tim Hudson is on the mound, and today we had enough. Santana's final line was 7 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 11 K, and a -0.180 WPA.
Tonight was a great way to start the series. Now let's see if we can get Derek Lowe a DLW tomorrow against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Tim Hudson (also went 1/2 with a double and a 0.022 WPA hitting)
Rick Ankiel-- 2/4, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K, 0.147 WPA
Matt Diaz-- 2/4, 2 2B, R, RBI, 2 K, 0.128 WPA
The Bullpen (Venters, Saito, and Wagner)-- combined 0.128 WPA
Johan Santana (also went 0/3 with a -0.079 WPA hitting)
David Wright-- 0/4, -0.125 WPA
Jeff Francoeur-- 1/4, -0.095 WPA
MVP in a Losing Effort
Carlos Beltran-- 1/2, 2 BB, 2B, RBI, K, 0.110 WPA (the only Mets starter who had a WPA above 0)
Ankiel's 2-run single in the first (0.146 WPA)
Alex Gonzalez hitting into a FC at home with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out in the 1st (-0.074), although that was partly Chipper's fault for hesitating so long before breaking to the plate