The Braves have enough rotation depth to weather just about any storm, but that doesn’t make Tommy Hanson’s recent failures any less disconcerting.
The 24-year-old ace was shelled for seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings Saturday in a loss to the Mets. He surrendered eight hits, issued two walks, and watched his ERA climb from 3.20 to 3.60.
And it’s possible that the slide will continue.
Hanson went 9-4 with a 2.60 ERA through the end of June, but he allowed 36 hits and 19 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings during the month of July and his August is off to an even rougher start.
The right-hander spent time on the disabled list earlier this year with shoulder tendinitis and hinted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after Saturday’s game that he’s still being bothered by some discomfort.
“I’ve never made an excuse and I’m not going to,” said Hanson. “I felt good enough to go out there and help my team win the game. They did their part and I didn’t. I just didn’t have very good command. Actually, I had horrible command.”
The Braves hold a comfortable 3 1/2 game lead in the National League Wild Card standings, but the Diamondbacks are charging hard and the Giants could also be in the mix. Feeling “good enough” might not cut it any longer for Hanson. A couple weeks off would put him in far better shape for the September stretch run.
Facing an elimination number of one, the Astros staved off elimination in the AL West by beating the Diamondbacks on Friday night by a 6-1 margin. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Angels on Saturday afternoon, which temporarily put the Astros’ fate in their own hands.
Colby Rasmus hit a pair of solo homers and Jose Altuve added a solo shot of his own. Starter Collin McHugh tossed seven innings of one-run ball, limiting the Diamondbacks to six hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Reliever Will Harris allowed a solo home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth, but Luke Gregerson closed out the game with a scoreless ninth.
The Astros trail the Rangers by one game in the AL West and lead the Angels by one game for the second AL Wild Card slot. The Rangers can clinch the AL West on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Astros loss. The Astros can clinch the second AL Wild Card on Sunday afternoon with a win or an Angels loss.
The Yankees lost both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles and lead the Astros by only one game for the first AL Wild Card slot.
If the Astros win and the Rangers lose on Sunday, they will play an AL West tiebreaker in Texas. The winner will win the second AL Wild Card if the Yankees win on Sunday, or the first AL Wild Card if the Yankees lose on Sunday.
If the Astros lose and the Angels win on Sunday, the two teams will be tied for the second AL Wild Card. They would play a tiebreaker in Houston, and the winner would play the Yankees in New York in the Wild Card game.
Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson looked more like Ladainian Tomlinson the way he was running during Saturday afternoon’s game against the Rockies. In the first inning with one out against starter Chris Rusin, Tomlinson hit a fly ball into the right-center field gap at AT&T Park, a great place to go if you’re in the mood for an inside-the-park home run.
Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Chris Dickerson could corral the ball before it rolled all the way to the 421-foot marker at the fence. Tomlinson motored around the bases, but Gonzalez made a strong throw into cut-off man D.J. LeMahieu, and LeMahieu made a great throw in to catcher Tom Murphy, but Tomlinson slid in safely just ahead of the tag.
It was an exciting play and the hit proved important as the Giants eked out a 3-2 win against the Rockies.