Braves starting pitchers have allowed only three earned runs so far – the fifth time in the team’s 48-year history in Atlanta that starters held the opposition to three earned runs or less in the season’s first three games.
No surprise that it happened twice in the 1990s. In ’94, Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz gave up no earned runs to the Padres; a year earlier, the Cubs managed just three earned off Mad Dog, Smoltzie and Avery.
It may surprise you that Rick Mahler, Bob Walk and Tommy Boggs yielded just one ER in the first three games of 1982. Four years later, the vaunted trio of Mahler, Zane Smith and “President” David Palmer held the Astros and Expos to three earned.
David Hale will be the fifth starter by next week, and by the end of the month he’ll be battling the likes of newly signed Pedro Beato for a spot in the ‘pen. (Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd made it through rehab starts last night with no problems, though neither was particularly sharp.) Hale struggled in the spring and wasn’t anything special for Gwinnett last year, so those two impressive September starts for Atlanta were probably an outlier.
He’ll face Jordan Zimmerman this afternoon, a bad break for the Braves. Zimmerman was supposed to pitch yesterday but got pushed back due to the flu.
The Nats come into this series with something to prove, having gone 7-24 last year against the Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers. They have the talent, boasting a deeper rotation and better line-up — the bullpen is the only area where the Braves have a discernible edge.
We’ll know soon enough what the Nats are made of, as the two teams face each other in six of their next nine games. I’d be thrilled if the Braves managed a split.
Today’s line-up: Heyward 9 BUpton 8 Freeman 3 Johnson 5 JUpton 7 Uggla 4 Gattis 2 Simmons 6 Hale 1
*Foxe, aka the Tidal Basin Bombshell, was a D.C. stripper whose affair with powerful Arkansas congressman Wilbur Mills was one of the most heavily reported sex scandals of the last century.