Behind Tim Hudson and Evan Gattis, the Braves beat the Nats and rolled to an MLB-best 10-1 record.
By JAY CLEMONSFS South
Here are three things we learned from
Atlanta's 3-1 road victory over Washington on Saturday, as the
Braves — baseball's first 10-win team — clinched a series victory over the Nationals:
1. Evan Gattis is one more 'Three Cuts' mention from earning a free sub sandwich
What's left to say about the brawny Braves rookie who already has one of the coolest nicknames in baseball (
El Oso Blanco)? In just eight games with Atlanta, spanning 30 at-bats, Gattis has four homers, eight RBI and a .300 batting average.
Of his four homers, three have come on this road trip, with Gattis belting moon shots off Wade LeBlanc, Alex Sanabia (Marlins) and now Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg.
In the third inning, Gattis (two RBI) smashed a Strasburg heater over the left-field wall at Nationals Park.
It might have been his most impressive homer of his young career, given the level of competition. But from a pizzazz perspective, Gattis may never approach the gone-viral fanaticism that accompanied his first career bomb (live interview with parents).
On a larger scale, Gattis is simply making it impossible for Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez to keep him out of the lineup; and if that involves stretching his defensive comfort zone from catcher to first base ... to maybe third base or the outfield, so be it.
The legend of Evan Gattis — from his Rickey Henderson-like batting crouch to the trials and tribulations
of just realizing his MLB dream — is a story that must be told.
Apparently, again and again.
2. If Braves pitcher Tim Hudson was hitting his weight, he'd be tipping the scales at 429
The made-for-TV matchup of Hudson vs. Strasburg was heavily slanted in the older pitcher's favor on Saturday, as Hudson (one win, one run allowed, three strikeouts over seven strong innings) even collected two hits off Strasburg, raising his seasonal batting average to .429.
The only thing missing from Hudson's complete effort? Maybe a home run (two career blasts) or his first-ever steal in the major leagues.
For the season, Hudson has a 2-0 record. 2.50 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 13/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. From a team standpoint, the Braves' starters, through 11 games, have expertly tallied a 2.31 ERA.
3. The Braves have three lineup mainstays hitting .200 or less
OK, so it hasn't been all rainbows and puppy dogs for every member of Atlanta's lineup. Through 11 games, B.J. Upton (4 for 38), Jason Heyward (3 for 35) and Dan Uggla (7 for 37) have been mired in prolonged slumps, with only four total homers among the trio.
However, Heyward had a .300 on-base percentage (as of Friday night) and excellent walk-to-strikeout ratio of 1:1. These are prime indicators of a batter who isn't getting frustrated (read: impatient) at the plate. In fact, it's the calling card of a veteran star whose breakout may be imminent.
And Uggla, despite the early struggles, still boasts a .333 OBP and the second-most runs among the Braves hitters (eight).
Regarding B.J. Upton, though, there's no tangible defense for an OBP just above .200 and a slugging rate below .200.
Luckily, the Braves can afford to wait for him to recapture that power-speed mojo of last year, when Upton crushed 28 homers and stole 31 bases for the Rays.