Atlanta Braves Blog

The Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves brought Southern hospitality (not good in this case)

  SAN FRANCISCO – Not only have the Braves’ recent West Coast road woes continued in full effect so far on this trip, they’ve also helped teams break out of scoring ruts in both Southern and Northern California this week.

They’ve got a good chance to snap out of the funk tonight against Tim Hudson, the longtime former Brave who’s struggling mightily as he enters his first start vs. Atlanta since pitching nine seasons for the Braves through 2013. More on that in a moment.

The Dodgers had a season-high six-run inning in an 8-0 win against the Braves on Tuesday, and the Giants scored as many runs (six) in the eighth inning of Thursday’s 7-0 win as they had scored in any entire home game this season.

After hitting a chilly .190 and totaling just nine runs in their last eight games before facing Atlanta, the Dodgers batted .316 with five homers and 16 runs in the three-game series against the Braves.

Now the Giants, who in the opener of a four-game series Thursday scored the most runs they’ve had in a game all season at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. Before Thursday, the reigning World Series champions had scored only 71 games in 23 home games, tied with the Phillies for fewest in the NL.

Unlike the Dodgers, the Giants had not been struggling to score everywhere, just at home. On the road, the Giants have hit .313 with 15 homers and 87 runs in their last 13 games, or nearly seven runs per game.

The kept up that road pace in their homestand opener Thursday by feasting in one innings against reliever Brandon Cunniff and Donnie Veal, after Braves starter Shelby Miller had allowed just five hits and one run in seven innings.

For those keeping track, the Braves are now 2-13 in West Coast games since the beginning of the 2014 season, and 2-15 going back to the 2013 divison series loss to the Dodgers. They are 1-6 against the Giants, home and away, since the beginning of last season.

(By the way, as most of our erudite readership realizes, Arizona is not West Coast, even if some folks insist on referring to games there as West Coast games. It’s not even in the Pacific Time Zone, though it gets confusing because they don’t observe Daylight Savings Time. But anyway, we’re talking about California teams and Seattle when we reference West Coast. In other words, West Coast teams.)

While the Giants were satisfying the home fans with a late-game scoring outburst Thursday that sent the Giants-jerseyed and black-sweatshirted faithful back out into that chilly not happy, the Braves’ own offensive struggles continued unabated.

The Braves totaled just four hits Thursday against right-hander Chris Heston (7 1/3 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts) and three relievers, whom Giants manager Bruce Bochy deployed with his usual deftness.

In their past 15 games, the Braves have hit just .220 with two homers – two homers in 499 at-bats! – while totaling 46 runs, including two runs or fewer in six of 15 games and two shutout losses in the past three days. The Braves are 8-7 with a 3.81 ERA in that period, and six of their eight wins have been by one- or two-run margins.

Their focal-point hitter, Freddie Freeman, hasn’t homered in 20 games and is 10-for-54 (.185) with two doubles, five RBIs, five walks, 20 strikeouts and a .267 OBP and .222 slugging percentage in his past 14 games. As you can imagine, he’s never faced his good friend Hudson, at least not anywhere except batting practice with the Braves.

• Hudson vs. Foltynewicz: It’ll be the 39-year-old Hudson facing the up-and-coming Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz, who was just a twinkle in his dad’s eye when Huddy was a rookie pitcher. (Well, not really, but we’re using creative license to make a point, figuring no one will actually give the age difference much thought and realize that would be impossible.)

Hudson is 2-4 with a 5.04 ERA and has been imminently hittable home and road, lefty and righty, day and night, April and May. He’s 1-2 with a 6.95 ERA and .348 opponents’ average in his past four starts, including a career-high 15 hits and six runs allowed in 6 2/3 innings against the Marlins on May 7, and eight runs allowed in 3 2/3 innings at Colorado on Sunday.

Foltynewicz is 3-1 with a 4.25 ERA and .268 opponents’ average in five starts, and limited the Marlins to three hits and one run in 7 2/3 innings on Saturday in his best start to date. He’s had seven strikeouts in four consecutive games and has 30 strikeouts with 12 walks in 29 2/3 innings this season. No current Giants player has faced him, either this season or last year when he pitched out of the Astros bullpen the last two months of the season.

Hudson, who’ll turn 40 in July, will make his first start against the Braves since 2003 when he was with the other Bay Area team, the Oakland A’s.

After leaving the Braves as a free agent following the 2013 season, Hudson signed a two-year, $23 million deal with the Giants and went 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and .223 opponents’ average in his first 13 starts last season through June 12.

But he’s won just four games since, going 4-15 with a 5.10 ERA and .300 opponents’ average in 27 starts while allowing 186 hits (19 homers) and 36 walks with 86 strikeouts in 155 1/3 innings. The Giants are 10-17 in those games.

Against Hudson, Cameron Maybin is 10-for-25 with a homer and Nick Markakis is 4-for-5.

For Foltynewicz, this will be his sixth start and his second away from Turner Field.

Right-handed batters are just 11-for-55 (.200) with one homer, four walks (two HBP) and 20 strikeouts  against Folty, for a .270 OBP and .255 slugging percentage. However, lefties have hit .333 (19-for-57) against him with eight extra-base hits (two homers), eight walks and 10 strikeouts, for a .409 OBP and .561 slugging percentage.

 • Etc.

  The Braves have hit a majors-low 10 homers in May, which is three fewer than Bryce Harper has hit for the month. The Phillies (13) are the only other team that’s hit fewer than 16. Seventeen teams have hit at least 25 homers in May, and three have hit at last 35: Rangers (40), Astros (37), Mariners (35).

  Brandon Cunniff was charged with four hits and five runs in one-third of an inning, after previously allowing just two hits and three runs all season in 15 innings over 17 appearances. He had not given up a single hit against a right-hander – they were 0-for-30 against him in his career – before Hunter Pence’s two-run triple in the six-run eighth inning Thursday.

That was the second-longest such streak by a major league pitcher at the outset of his career since at least 1974.

 • Here's one that sounds just as great the 1,000th time I've heard it as it did the first. Dawson, Ga., native Otis Redding, folks. They don't get any better than this dude was.

"(SITTIN' ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY" by Otis Redding

Sittin' in the morning sun

I'll be sittin' when the evening comes

Watching the ships roll in

Then I watch them roll away again, yeah

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh

I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay

Wastin' time

I left my home in Georgia

Headed for the Frisco Bay

Cuz I've had nothing to live for

And look like nothing's gonna come my way

So, I'm just gon' sit on the dock of the bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh

I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

Wastin' time

Looks like nothing's gonna change

Everything still remains the same

I can't do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I'll remain the same, listen

Sittin' here resting my bones

And this loneliness won't leave me alone, listen

Two thousand miles I roam

Just to make this dock my home, now

I'm just gon' sit at the dock of a bay

Watchin' the tide roll away, ooh

Sittin' on the dock of the bay

Wastin' time

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About the Author

David O'Brien has covered the Atlanta Braves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2002.