Found June 18, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
ATLANTA -- In a rain-delayed game that stretched well into Tuesday morning, the Braves walked off against the Mets 2-1. Here are three observations from the game: 1. Freddie Freeman is bad news for opposing pitchers Starting pitcher Tim Hudson seemed thoroughly energetic for a 1:30 a.m. interview when discussing his first baseman, Freddie Freeman, who had just knocked a two-run, game-winning home run towering into the right field seats. The homer saved Hudson from his seventh loss and Freeman's 3-for-4 night continues a ridiculous month of June. His teammates are enjoying every minute of it. "He's like the Little Leaguer that shaves already," Hudson said. "He's Kelly Leak from 'Bad News Bears,' riding up on his motorcycle smoking heaters. That's Freddie right now." Up until Justin Upton reached base on a single and Freeman brought the post-rain delay crowd on its feet, Mets starter Dillon Gee barely gave the Braves' lineup an inch. He scattered just three hits (two to Freeman) over his first eight innings of shutout work, but the 27-year-old righty fell victim to the way the lineup unfolded for Atlanta in the final frame: Jason Heyward, Upton and Freeman. "I knew I hit the game-winning homer good enough," said Freeman, who now has seven home runs this season. "I didn't know if it was going to stay fair, actually, because it was an inside pitch and I didn't know if I was able to get my hands inside. But once I saw it get up to its highest peak I knew it was gone." Freeman's tear continues as he extended his hitting streak to six games (11 hits over that span), including two walk-off hits. He's hitting .328.371.448 in June and is the true anchor in the middle of the team's lineup that hitting coach Greg Walker and the rest of the organization predicted him to be once healthy. Well, he's healthy. And he's knocking the cover off the ball. Per the usual, the Braves won in dramatic fashion. They are now 7-3 in extra-inning games. In good humor, manager Fredi Gonzalez called his team "a little bunch of college sororities out there when you win ballgames like that." Excellent. 2. Braves pitchers are feeling right at home Without question, the Braves pitching staff has proven to be the league's preeminent group when it comes to shutting down opposing lineups within the friendly confines of its home ballpark. Monday nightTuesday morning was no exception. First, some impressive numbers: -- Entering the Mets series, the Braves held on to the top home ERA (2.32) in the major leagues. Over 283 innings pitched, Atlanta had allowed just 73 earned runs now just 74 following the 2-1 win. The next-closest team? The Pirates, who feature a 2.78 ERA. That's a significant difference. -- As should be obvious by the point, the Braves are the best home team in baseball right now. Good pitching has such an effect. Atlanta is now 24-8 at Turner Field. -- The main reason behind such better-than-everyone-by-a-mile success comes down to Atlanta's league-leading WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratios. The Braves are essentially allowing one baserunner per inning at home and striking out four times as many batters as they are walking. Tim Hudson (4-6), who all but epitomizes the team's home-road splits thus far, was magnificent following the extended rain delay. The veteran starter pitched seven innings, allowing one earned run on six hits. Though he did walk three batters, he struck out six and induced a ground ball to get out of the sixth. Yes, he was Vintage Hudson. Thanks to Freeman's heroics, the Mets could not hand Hudson his first home loss of the season (3-0), and he lowered his ERA at Turner Field to 2.22. For perspective, he's 1-6 with a 6.07 ERA on the road. 3. Alex Wood set to make starting debut Perhaps forced into big league action a little sooner than the Braves initially intended, Wood, the 22-year-old rookie out of the University of Georgia, has pitched well in spot relief work since being called up on May 30. As the left-handed reliever Atlanta needed following season-ending Tommy John surgeries for both Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty, Wood has posted a 3.52 ERA in 7.2 innings. And after averaging more than a strikeout per frame in his limited time, his fielding-independent pitching (FIP) is second-best on the team behind only Jordan Walden. One (not-so-troubling) issue at the moment: His base-on-balls rate is rather high (4.70) following a three-walk appearance his last time on the mound. Still, Gonzalez needs him to take the mound during a trying stretch for the NL East leaders. Heading into Tuesday's doubleheader, two games during a stretch of eight games in seven days, the Braves will need the rookie to hold down the fort as a starter against an underwhelming Mets lineup (247 runs, 25th in MLB). Rumored to be a potential starter in the Braves rotation as early as next year, Wood boasted a microscopic 1.26 ERA in 10 starts at Double-A Mississippi in 2013. Here's his first audition. The original plan for the day's extra game was to start Brandon Beachy for the first time since his Tommy John surgery last year. However, Beachy, who had not suffered a setback throughout his entire rehab, ran into control issues and elbow tenderness in what was scheduled to be his final rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett last week. His return date is still undecided. So, it will be Wood making his first start. Based on every number he's put up since the Braves drafted him with the 85th overall pick last summer, he should be just fine.
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