Three Cuts: Hudson breaks ankle in Braves' win over Mets

BY foxsports • July 24, 2013

Here are three things we learned from the Braves' 8-2 victory over the Mets — a triumph that extended Atlanta's lead in the National League to a season-high eight games.

But that wasn't the big story of the night:

For seven-plus innings on Wednesday, Hudson was cruising toward his eighth victory and 1,000th overall strikeout with the Braves (currently at 997).

But things took a turn for the worse in the eighth, when the Atlanta pitcher got injured at first base while covering the bag on a soft groundout, the unfortunate result of Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. awkwardly lunging toward the base and stepping on Hudson's right ankle in the process.

Hudson (two runs allowed, nine strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings) immediately fell to the ground, writhing in pain, with his teammates (along with the Mets' Young) rushing to his aid.

The collective silence of the Citi Field crowd unwittingly signaled that, by all accounts, this would not be some run-of-the-mill injury involving a veteran pitcher. At first blush, it had the appearance of a potentially devastating occurrence for Hudson, who turned 38 on July 14.

According to the Braves' official Twitter account, Hudson will have surgery on the ankle as soon as the swelling subsides.

From a short-term perspective, the Braves — minus a surprise deal before the MLB trade deadline on July 31 — will likely require the services of Beachy (last year's ERA leader in the National League before suffering an elbow injury) and the rookie Wood (2.45 ERA, 26/8 K-BB rate) for season's final 10 weeks.

Just days ago, there was speculation both youngsters would be consigned to either the minors or the bullpen for August and September. But my, how quickly things have changed.

On Wednesday, Beachy surrendered just one earned run and two hits for the Gwinnett Braves (Triple-A affiliate). Of the right-hander's nine starts in the minors this season, he has allowed two or less runs eight times.

Citing the normal five days between starts, Beachy might have earned a battlefield promotion to the big leagues for Monday or Tuesday, when the Braves entertain the Rockies at home.

Regarding Wood, most kids would be thrilled just to stick in the majors for three or four straight months; but the 22-year-old lefty suddenly morphs from "bullpen luxury" to "stretch-run necessity" with the Braves, who recently placed starter Paul Maholm on the 15-day disabled list.

As a consequence to that, Atlanta (57-44) suddenly has a dearth of quality left-handed arms in the bullpen, perhaps motivating Braves GM Frank Wren and his staff to execute a trade in the next seven days.

It's a little weird that Uggla has more homers (19) than multiple-hit games (14 — including Wednesday) this season.

It's also strange that Uggla — sporting 11 solo homers and a .201 average for the year — has consistently batted in front of Chris Johnson ... baseball's best hitter in the 8-hole (.347 batting average, .400 on-base percentage).

And yet, the Braves keep rolling along in the NL East, drawing power from an unconventional lineup that lacks a classic hitter at the first and second spots ... but has admirable depth in other areas.

On Wednesday, Gattis (two hits, two runs) opened the scoring with a mammoth, second-deck homer off Jeremy Hefner in the second inning — expertly turning on a high, inside fastball.

A few pitches earlier, he rotated on a fastball a little too quickly, pulling the first crushing blow foul. But on the second chance ... Gattis didn't miss.

Uggla's three-run blast in the fifth (off Hefner) — scoring Brian McCann and Gattis — essentially iced a game that, from Atlanta's perspective, was never in doubt.

Three batters later, Simmons belted a two-run homer to left field (scoring Chris Johnson), boosting Atlanta's lead to an insurmountable 6-0.

It was a deflating sequence for the Mets (44-53), who badly needed to take three of four games against the Braves, if they wanted to remain long-shot contenders for the East title.

Instead, they're looking at a must-win game on Thursday — if such a thing exists during the dog days of late July.

Heck, in two or three hours, that encouraging nugget will likely be buried under a pile of get-well-soon cards for Hudson (113-72 record, 3.55 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with Atlanta), the club's most bankable pitching asset throughout the last eight-plus seasons.

But here's one stat worth mentioning: Of the Braves' 15 outings of eight or more runs in 2013 ... Wednesday's count of four runners stranded was easily the lowest output.

On this night, that passes for joyous news.

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