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.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.