Hanson needs something more than another thrillng finish
Welcome back to Wrigley Field, the second-best stop on the National League circuit. San Diego still ranks as the best stop on the Senior Circuit. But it’s hard to beat a trip to Chicago in the summer the months.
There were a number of Braves fans present to see Rick Ankiel deliver his two-out game-winning triple on Carlos Marmol’s two-strike delivery yesterday. With this clutch delivery, Ankiel became the 14th different Braves player to collect a game-winning RBI this year.
As you already know, Bobby Cox said he told assistant trainer Jim Lovell before Friday’s game that he expected Ankiel was going to have a big series. <p>
“He was due,” Cox said after Friday’s 5-3 win.
Since being acquired from the Royals, Ankiel has proven to be a superb defender, who benefits from what Cox described as “the best outfield arm” that he’s seen during his years in professional baseball.
At the plate, Ankiel recorded just five hits in his first 36 at-bats for the Braves. But the former pitcher entered this afternoon’s game having hit .421 (8-for-19) over his past six games.
Ankiel was due to deliver at the plate and also due to become the latest to deliver the decisive hit in one of the Major League-high 22 last at-bat wins recorded by the Braves this year. This is the highest total posted by the Braves since they notched 31 such victories in 1999.
Jason Heyward has accounted for five of the decisive hits in these last at-bat wins and Brooks Conrad has tallied three others. Ten other Braves have accounted for the hits that have proven to be the difference in these thrilling victories.
“It’s like there’s something in the water around here,” Ankiel said. “It’s fun. It’s like no matter what, we’re never out of it. It’s fun to be a part of it.” <p>
Tommy Hanson enters this afternoon’s start as the only pitcher since 1913, when earned runs were deemed an official stat in the National and American Leagues, to go winless over a span of five consecutive starts in which he’s allowed one earned run or fewer.
The Braves have scored two runs or fewer when Hanson has still been the pitcher of record over the course of his past five starts. He would have still won one of these games had Billy Wagner not erased a one-run, ninth-inning advantage against the Astros on Aug. 11.
When Wagner was told that he has one fewer win (7) than Hanson (8), he said, “Yeah, that’s partly my fault.”
Three of the four save opportunities that Wagner has blown since July 21 have cost Hanson wins. Thus the 23-year-old hurler enters this start having gone 0-2 with a 1.33 ERA over his past six starts.