The Principality

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Hanson Dominates Marlins

It is fair to say that Braves pitching phenom, Tommy Hanson, has not been at his brilliant best his previous two starts.  The young right hander had given up 15 runs in just 7.1 innings against the White Sox and Nationals, respectively.  However, Hanson was his dominating self again on Saturday against the Marlins, helping the Braves to a 4-1 victory that pulled them 3 games clear of the New York Mets in the National League East as the season’s halfway point.

Hanson’s troubles had given the Braves cause for concern over the last week or so, with pitching coach Roger McDowell forced to take the youngster back to basics to fix flaws in his mechanics.  "I knew I was doing something a little bit wrong," Hanson said. "Once Roger pointed it out to me and I saw it with my own eyes, it made it a lot easier to make the adjustment. I worked on it [during] my last side. It felt good today, when I needed to throw a pitch down in the zone, I just thought about getting my hand out a lot bit sooner."

With his mechanics in check, Hanson went 6.2 innings, giving up one unearned run on five hits with eight strikeouts.  His 106 pitch effort was ended with runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh inning.  However, Peter Moylan struck out Hanley Ramirez to end the danger and preserve the lead for the Braves.

Despite Hanson’s dominance, he did start with a few nervous moments and found himself a run down early.  Having hit Ross with a pitch in the second inning, consecutive errors by Brian McCann and then Martin Prado brought the Marlins outfielder home.  It was then up to the Braves to respond and they did so in the same emphatic manner they have been doing since the end of April, scoring four runs in the fourth inning.  An RBI single from the red-hot Omar Infante was followed up by an RBI double from Yunel Escobar, before Gregor Blanco singled to double the lead.

This lead would be plenty for Hanson, who improved with every inning as the game went on.  "Everything felt good for the most part today, and once I got there, it felt like it just kept getting better," Hanson said. "My command kept getting better, and everything kept coming out my hand a lot better in the beginning of the game. Yeah, I felt a lot better and a lot stronger and more confident in the later innings."

With Hanson firing again, the Braves can stake a legitimate claim to having the strongest rotation in the National League.  The blend of youth and experience has worked well and now Jair Jurrjens is back from the DL, it can only get stronger.  The Braves will look to wrap up the series with a sweep of the Marlins, Sunday, as Tim Hudson (8-3) faces Ricky Nolasco (7-6) at Turner Field.  The game has the unusual start time for a Sunday home game of 5:05pm.  This is to accommodate the 4th July fireworks display immediately after the game.

Andrew Bracegirdle

3rd July 2010