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Braves Vs. Padres: Rubber Game Features Two Young Hurlers

The Braves and Padres face off in the rubber game of a three-game set on Wednesday beginning at 3:35 on SportSouth. Game one of the series went to San Diego in 13 innings on a walk-off home run, but Atlanta rebounded with a dominating 8-2 win in the second game.

Braves Lineup:
1. Martin Prado, LF
2. Jason Heyward, RF
3. Chipper Jones, 3B
4. Brian McCann, C
5. Dan Uggla, 2B
6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Nate McLouth, CF
9. Tommy Hanson, SP

Padres Lineup:
1. Cameron Maybin, CF
2. Jason Bartlett, SS
3. Ryan Ludwick, LF
4. Jorge Cantu, 3B
5. Brad Hawpe, 1B
6. Orlando Hudson, 2B
7. Will Venable, RF
8. Rob Johnson, C
9. Mat Latos, SP

Tommy Hanson (28 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 3.53 xFIP, 2.57 BB/9, 7.71 K/9, 46.1 GB%, 7.4 SwStr%)
(55 FB%, 22.5 SL%, 16 CB%, 6.5 CH%; 42.2 Swing%, 81.4 Contact%)
Mat Latos (16.2 IP, 5.94 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 3.99 xFIP, 4.86 BB/9, 10.8 K/9, 44.2 GB%, 11.6 SwStr%)
(57.6 FB%, 28.3 SL%, 7.6 CB%, 6.6 CH%; 44.2 Swing%, 72 Contact%)

Hanson pitched seven solid innings against the Giants last time out, allowing one run on three hits while walking one and striking out seven. His strikeouts and ground balls seemed to return to their norms for the first time this season, as he induced more fly balls than ground balls while striking out seven. Hanson's fastball velocity and command continues to be the focus of his starts, and it went well against the Giants, as did the slider and curve.

Latos has yet to find his groove since returning from the disabled list, allowing three runs, five runs and three runs while going no more than 6.1 innings. His most recent was 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while walking five and striking out seven. The five walks and 107 pitches led to an early night for Latos, which is rare for a pitcher as efficient as he usually is. But despite the low innings, high walks and five homers allowed, he remains a strikeout machine with a K-rate over 10.

Opposing Numbers:
Two of the big hitters for the Braves, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, have a combined two hits in 18 plate appearances against Latos. But Martin Prado is 3-9 with a homer, Dan Uggla is 2-6 with a double and RBI and Alex Gonzalez is 2-5 with one RBI.

Several Padres hitters have hit Hanson well. Cameron Maybin is 3-7 with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs. Jorge Cantu is 3-8 with three RBIs. Will Venable is 2-5 with a homer and three walks. Chase Headley is 3-8 with a double and triple. Alberto Gonzalez is 2-6 with a double.

What to Look For:
Hanson rebounded in his last start and is looking for the same against a poor Padres offense. He can use his fly ball tendencies in Petco Park and focus on strikeouts. However, the Braves may be counting on him a lot with Latos going for the Padres, even if he is struggling at the moment.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.