Hudson aims to conquer Coors Field and Helton
Congratulations Tim Hudson. Now that you have spent countless hours of rehab and made a successful return to the Atlanta rotation, the baseball gods have rewarded you with the opportunity to be reintroduced to Coors Field and Todd Helton, the guy who has looked a lot like Ted Williams when you have faced him here in Denver.
Unfortunately, the pain pills that helped you get through this offseason’s back surgery will not be an option before you take the mound for tonight’s start against the Rockies. But go get ’em. Good luck. War Eagle and all of that other stuff.
Now that play time is over, it’s time to point out that Hudson is obviously not the first pitcher to have contrasting splits against the Rockies at home and on the road.
Hudson’s four career starts vs. Rockies at Coors Field: 0-2, 7.77 ERA, 3 HR, 22 IP, 18/9 K/BB, .333 batting average allowed.
Hudson’s four career starts vs. Rockies at Turner Field: 4-0, 1.84 ERA, 0 HR, 29 IP, 19/10 K/BB, .150 batting average allowed
Instead of delving into theories and equations, we can take a stab at explaining this contrast by using just two words: Todd Helton.
Helton enters tonight’s series opener with nine hits in 10 career at-bats against Hudson in Denver. He has just one hit in five career at-bats against the veteran hurler in Atlanta.
But if you’re only as good as your last at-bat, Hudson might actually enter tonight’s matchup with the advantage. After hitting a homer in the first inning of their most recent matchup in July, Helton flew out in his next at-bat and then got hit with a pitch in the sixth inning.
“I don’t know what to throw him,” Hudson said after last year’s start. “I don’t think I’ve thrown him a fastball inside in three years and the first pitch, he yanks it for a homer. He’s a great hitter. Obviously I’ve got to figure out a better way to get him out in the future.”
In case some of you remember that Hudson tossed a one-hit shutout against the Rockies on May 1, 2006, I’ll save you some research time by telling you that Helton did not play in that game at Turner Field.
Hudson allowed 13 earned runs and totaled just nine innings in his first two starts at Coors Field. During his two most recent outings in Denver, he has totaled 13 innings and allowed six earned runs. Helton’s first-inning home run accounted for the two earned runs he surrendered during last year’s road start against the Rockies.
Chipper’s last regular season tour of Coors: When Coors Field opened during Chipper Jones’ rookie year, it immediately became recognized as an offensive haven. But it took Chipper Jones a few games to take advantage of the friendly environment. He batted just .191 with a home run and a .623 OPS in his first 11 regular season games at Coors Field.
But during the two games played in Denver during the 1995 National League Division Series, he recorded five hits, including a double and two homers, in 10 at-bats. This served as a sign of things to come. The 40-year-old third baseman has batted .356 with 11 home runs and a 1.104 OPS in his past 46 road games against the Rockies.
Jones’ left knee must have responded well after yesterday’s flight to Denver. He is in tonight’s lineup and positioned in the second spot for the first time this year. He batted second in seven games from Sept. 8-16 last year.
Happy Birthday Eddie: Bullpen coach Eddie Perez, one of the brightest and funniest people to ever be a part of the Braves organization, turned 43 on Friday. While most will forever recognize him as Greg Maddux’s personal catcher, he also can take pride in the fact that he was one of the primary reasons the Braves made a fifth trip to the World Series during the 1990s.
After Javy Lopez suffered a season-ending knee injury in June of 1999, Perez became Atlanta’s starting catcher. He was named 1999 NLCS MVP after hitting .500 (10-for-20) with two doubles and two homers in that series against the Mets.
Perez was behind the plate for more games (121) pitched by Maddux than any other catcher. Next on that list are Henry Blanco (82), Damon Berryhill (81), Paul Bako (80) and Lopez (72).