After a highly impressive run that featured 8 wins in 9 games, the Atlanta Braves were soaring as they arrived in Canada for the first of four games with the Toronto Blue Jays. Then, Monday night arrived and the wheels came careening off of the wagon for the road team in a 9-3 defeat.
Toronto exploded for 6 runs (on 8 hits) off of starter Tim Hudson, and when he was relieved by Cory Rasmus, the hits kept coming from the Blue Jays. Rasmus allowed the third home run of the game in the 7th inning, and a previously distant 6-1 lead became an insurmountable 9-1 advantage.
It was a long night at the office for Hudson, as the 6 runs indicated, but unfortunately, it wasn’t his first bout with trouble lately. In his last four starts, Hudson has allowed 5+ runs three times, and his inability to get strikeouts (just 1 on Sunday night) seems to be biting him. I don’t believe that Hudson’s issues are an indication of any season-long worry, but he’s missing his spots by just enough that the opposing offenses are making loud contact on an all-too-regular basis.
On the offensive side, it took the Braves nearly 5 innings to scratch across a run against Mark Buehrle. The Jays starter entered with a brutal 5.51 ERA, but he confounded Atlanta’s lineup for 6 innings, allowing only a 5th-inning RBI single to Andrelton Simmons before exiting. Evan Gattis was able to blast a 2-run home run in the 8th inning to make the final score closer, but it was far from an impressive showing from the offense.
Reed Johnson appeared for the first time in over a week, as he grabbed a start in right field for a resting Jason Heyward, but he struggled to an 0-for-4 night at the plate. That showing probably doesn’t lend itself to an increase in Johnson’s playing time, and the emergence of Gattis (who DH’ed in the AL ballpark) has largely made Johnson’s previous role evaporate. One additional note was the fact that BJ Upton sat against a left-handed pitcher in favor of the left-handed Jordan Schafer, and it appears that Fredi Gonzalez has resorted to giving Upton additional rest in order to sort things out.
The Braves will return to action on Tuesday afternoon as Paul Maholm takes the hill against the Blue Jays’ Brandon Morrow with a 12:37 first pitch. Stay tuned.