In 1932, FDR gave a radio speech called “The Forgotten Man.” In it, he highlighted the suffering of those bearing the brunt of The Great Depression.
Fast-forward 80 years to BravesLand, and our “Forgotten Man” has become Tommy Hanson, a former #2 starter suffering through his worst season, someone who probably won’t see another meaningful start this year.
But tonight, he gained a small measure of redemption by beating the Dade County Dysfunctionals (aka Miami Marlins) to boost his record to 13-9.
“Happy Days Are Here Again”? Hard to say, if we’re talking about Tommy Hanson, but it was good to see him complete the sweep—even if the opponents seemed to have the bus idling outside the clubhouse the whole game.
Hanson started out spotting his heater at the knees and spinning a repertoire of sharp breaking balls that cut or swept impressively through the strike zone. The dipping slider he dropped on Donovan Solano for strike 3 in the 2nd inning made you wonder if we were going to see something special.
But, as he does, Hanson began to run some deep counts. He survived two walks and line-drive single in that 2nd, leaving the bases-loaded.
Of course, there have been many a contest where Hanson fell in love with his hook and left one hovering in hitsville a little too long—and that’s what happened in the 3rd when Carlos Lee laced one into the LF corner for an RBI double. Suddenly, after 3 IP, Hanson had racked up 64 pitches. We’ve seen this movie before.
As has been noted several times, Hanson’s fielding remains more than a little questionable. In the 3rd, Freeman saved him an error by dangerously reaching in front of Jose Reyes to snag Hanson’s throw into the speedy runner. But in the 4th, Hanson threw away a pickoff attempt on Scott Cousins, sending him to 2nd. Gil Velazquez immediately made him pay by turning on an inside heater for an RBI double—2-0 Fish.
Meltdown? Nope, that’s all they got and our movie got a different ending this go-round.
After snoozing through their first 2 offensive frames, the Braves threatened right away. Simmons smacked a single up the middle, Hanson bunted him to 2nd, Constanza walked and Prado advanced them on a cue-shot grounder to Solano. But Heyward whiffed in the big spot, stranding two.
In the 4th, Atlanta finally got to Marlins starter Jacob Turner, who was confounding the Braves with his hard stuff. With one out, Freddie blooped a single, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Uggla’s 2-base smash down the LF line. Ross dropped a gorgeous bunt single that died in the grass, sending Uggla to third. Simmons slashed a run-scoring double to the RCF gap to make it 2-2. But Ross, running gingerly, stayed at third. After a Hanson K, Constanza walked (again) to load ’em up.
Then something weird happened, the kind of thing that always happens to lousy teams—an unconscionable mistake that essentially gift-wraps the game to the other club.
With 2 outs and the bases full, Prado lined one straight to Petersen, the Miami LF, who promptly dropped and kicked the ball like he was playing in a beer-league softball game—4-2 Braves. Unfortunately, Heyward added 2 more LOB to the boxscore with a weak 1-3 groundout.
But that’s where the game turned, and it wasn’t hard to imagine the Marlins feeling like they were running late for their charter out of Hartsfield.
Hanson (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R/1 ER, 4 K, 2 BB in 92 pitches) showed resolve by burning through the 5th and getting into the 6th before Avilan shut that door. Venters worked 2 IP, showing some real bite on his sinker. After Uggla dunked in a based-loaded, 2-RBI single, giving the Braves a 4-run lead—3 RBI for Uggla tonight, BTW—the Lisp was enlisted for successful 9th-inning mop-up duty. The Kraken remained chained.
A couple random thoughts, to be shoved way down the priority ladder: Reed Johnson, welcome to the 21st Century. He’s let his beard grow, eschewing the bushy grunge-era soul patch—so he no longer looks like a bass player in a Panama City cover band. Good move.
It’s been another lousy week in MarlinLand. They get swept, yes. But before that, the ever-expanding, money-stealing Miami reliever Heath Bell publicly slagged manager Ozzie Guillen. Then the Marlins owner got huffy with ex-manager Fredi Gonzalez. If anybody cared down there, TMZ would be knocking on the clubhouse door.
Overdue Memo to Ozzie Guillen: Working for Jeffrey Loria is like having someone put a lit cigarette in your ass—time is not on your side.
Where We Stand: With 7 games to go, the Braves remain 4 GB of Washington. Just another week to go until the Wild Card Bowl.
Bring on the Mets and let the Chipper Party continue.