Tommy Hanson just keeps giving the Atlanta Braves reason to remove him from the rotation. The struggling righty gave up three home runs in the Braves' 6-2 series opening loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday at Citizens Bank Park.
The loss also allowed the Phillies to keep building on their chances of taking the second Wild Card spot, moving to within three games of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Hanson's problems culminated in the fourth inning with back-to-back by Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz before walking pitcher Kyle Kendrick on four pitches in the fifth. The Phillies started their attack in the first inning when Chase Utley grounded out to drive in Juan Pierre, who had tripled a batter earlier. Kevin Frandsen led off the third inning with a solo home run from the eighth spot in the order, just his second of the year.
"I feel like I’m battling my ass off to help my teammates out and to help my team win, and as of right now I’m not doing a very good job," Hanson said. "It was a horse[crap] day. I’m not pulling my weight around here right now.”
Hanson, lacking the command and velocity of his earlier years, allowed five earned runs and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. It was the second time this year that Hanson has given up three homers in a game.
"I just think a couple of those pitches got too much of the plate," Hanson said. "They didn't just hit in the gap or hit it hard for a single. They hit it in the seats for the most part."
Kendrick, meanwhile, kept the Braves off balance with a barrage of change-ups and allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings. Dan Uggla seemed to be the only one to figure him out with doubles in the second and seventh inning, which helped the Braves along to their only runs.
Last night's start just continued Kendricks dominance of the Braves, as he owns a 6-1 record and 2.95 ERA in 13 career starts against them.
With Hanson putting up a 5.85 ERA in his last 11 starts, Fredi Gonzalez has been faced with the question of whether he would replace Hanson with Ben Sheets, Julio Teheran or Randall Delgado for his last couple of scheduled starts. Gonzalez's non-answer to the question may be more telling than anything.
"We'll see where we're at," Gonzalez said. "He's one of our guys, so why not? Let him start. We'll see where we're at. We'll take it game by game. We've got six days until we get back to that spot. So we'll see where we're at."
Following the loss and with only 11 games left in the regular season, the Braves will have to go on a tear to make up the 5 1/2-game deficit between them and the Washington Nationals.
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