Braves pitching sweeps Blue Jays
If the Braves were consistent with one thing throughout the series against the visiting Blue Jays, it was the pitching.
Coming into the game, Hudson had gone 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA in his previous 7 starts dating back to a one-hit shutout of Milwaukee May 4, but Monday night, he was vintage Huddy.
Hudson allowed two runners to reach in the second inning, but was dominant after that, mixing speeds and changing locations, keeping the Blue Jays offense on its heels.
With the offense squandering any run support Hudson may have got, he took it upon himself to provide the offense that opposing starter Ricky Romero had previously limited.
Hudson came up in the bottom of the 7th, just after Freddie Freeman ran himself out of scoring position on a Diory Hernandez groundout.
What Hudson did after that sent the Braves, and their fans, into a frenzy.
The veteran, who made a name for himself at Auburn as an extremely versatile player, drilled Romero’s first-pitch-fastball into the seats in left field for a 2-0 lead.
He retired 20 consecutive batters before walking Mike McCoy and giving up a single to Yunel Escobar to begin the 9th. It was the second Toronto hit of the night.
Hudson’s night was done there, making way for rookie Craig Kimbrel to lock down his 20th save and giving Hudson his 6th win on the year.
He struck out 8 and walked two, earning the 1600th strikeout of his career before darkness crept over Turner Field.
In Tuesday’s middle game, Mike Minor went back to the mound still looking to earn that first victory of the year opposite Zach Stewart.
Minor got into a little first inning trouble, allowing Corey Patterson to score on Adam Lind’s single, giving the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead.
And the Braves came right back, tying the game at 1 after Chipper Jones sacrifice fly scored Jordan Schafer after he led off with a walk and took third on Jason Heyward’s single.
While Minor continued to shut down the Blue Jays offense, the Braves made sure Minor had the run support needed to earn his first victory of 2011.
After Jones’ singled with one out, Brian McCann took Stewart deep to right, finding the seats before Alex Gonzalez’s double scored Dan Uggla from first, giving the Braves a 4-1 lead.
Minor retired 10 consecutive Blue Jay hitters, finishing his night off going 7 innings, remaining poised with a bit of an edge Jones hinted at him needing, allowing the lone run on 5 hits, striking out 8 and walking just one batter.
The Braves added another run in the 4th after Minor doubled and scored on Heyward’s RBI single. Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters each worked a perfect 8th and 9th inning to seal the victory, the third straight for the Braves, evening their record on the home stand to 4-4.
With Brandon Beachy making his first start in the majors since straining his oblique against the Phillies May 14, fingers were crossed around Braves Country that he would follow suit with Nate McLouth and return healthy from an injury that puzzled more than a few.
Beachy did not disappoint, allowing Escobar to single and swipe second before striking out the next 3 Toronto hitters.
Opposing the Atlanta offense was former Brave, Jo-Jo Reyes, who went with Escobar last season in the trade acquiring Gonzalez.
While inconsistent in his time with the Braves, he looked good early after allowing a leadoff double to Schafer before stranding him at second.
Minor shut the Blue Jays down, allowing Jose Bautista to hit his 22nd home run of the year and second in 83 at-bats, but not after Uggla jumped on Reyes’ 1-2 pitch, drilling it for a two-run shot into the left field seats. The home run scored Freeman, who led off the inning with a single.
The Braves were not done there, as McCann launched his 13th of the year into the right field seats for another two-run job, this time scoring Heyward, who walked to lead off the inning.
That was all Beachy needed in his return, striking out 11 Blue Jay batters over 6 innings. After striking out the side in the first, Beachy struck out two batters over the next 4 innings before not registering a strikeout in the 6th, but getting the Jay’s 1-2-3.
Brooks Conrad added a little bit of extra insurance in the bottom of the 7th with a solo shot off Jays reliever and former National Jon Rauch.
In the final three game set of the nine-game home stand, the Braves pitching staff limited the Jays to a .138 (13-for-94) batting average and hold a six-game winning streak over the Jays at Turner Field.
Next up for the Braves is the final west coast swing of the season, a six-game trip starting Friday night in San Diego before heading north to Seattle to finish off the visit west.