Nice win by the Braves tonight to even their record on the road trip at 2-2. Hudson and Smoltz have proven their worth on the last two nights, combining for fifteen shutout innings. Unfortunately, Smoltz had to throw 121 pitches to get through seven innings, coming on the heels of a 130-pitch outing last week against the Marlins. Bobby is either showing a few signs of desperation or he's deferring to Smoltz's competitive juices, which have often been John's undoing. If his shoulder is purple again at the end of the season, we might look back at May as the reason why.
Bobby showed faith in Chris Reitsma after Reitsma blew the game Friday night and then had to be rescued on Sunday. Reitsma repaid him with a 1-2-3 inning, although you'll excuse me if I don't plan a parade down Buford Highway for Chris since he retired Vinny Castilla, Josh Barfield, and Geoff Blum with a two-run lead in a pitcher's park. Ken Ray gave up a run in the 8th, reminding me of his collapse against the Padres in April that deprived the team of a sweep, but I'm willing to cut him a little slack since he was facing the heart of the Padres' order, such as that may be.
The Braves' bats didn't exactly cover themselves in glory tonight. I know that Jake Peavy is filthy and all, but 16 strikeouts in seven innings? If the Padres could have mustered anything off of Smoltz, then Jake could have taken a serious run at tying or even breaking Clemens and Wood's record of 20Ks. Langerhans provided the offense, reminding me of his big homer in Houston last May to win an epic Hudson-Clemens duel in the 12th. Ryan seems to be able to hit good pitching, although I'm running up against the sample size problem here. Todd Pratt, on the other hand, can't hit good pitching or possibly any pitching. If McCann's injury would have been as bad as it looked on Saturday night, then we might as well have folded up the tents on the season...or thrown our buddy Jarrod Salatamacchia into the deep end.
Incidentally, have I ever had less confidence in the Braves' ability to win a game than I was Saturday night when the pitching match-up was Brandon Webb against Travis Smith and the Braves were coming off of a heart-breaking loss? Probably not. The Friday night game was the key game in the series against Arizona, since the D-Backs had a big advantage Saturday and the Braves had an advantage Sunday. The only downside to Hudson's terrific effort was that it deprived me of the chance to title a post this morning "Snakes, why'd it have to be snakes?"