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Cardinals Vs. Braves: Tim Hudson Takes The Task Of Containing The St. Louis Offense In Game 1

The Braves are looking to put their off-the-field troubles aside and focus on baseball for the night as they host the Cardinals in the first game of a three-game series beginning at 7:35 on Peachtree TV and Fox Sports South.

Cardinals Lineup:
1. Nick Punto, 2B
2. Colby Rasmus, CF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Matt Holliday, LF
5. Lance Berkman, RF
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Ryan Theriot, SS
8. Daniel Descalso, 3B
9. Chris Carpenter, SP

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. Tim Hudson, SP

Chris Carpenter (30 IP, 3.90 ERA, 4.05 FIP, 3.25 xFIP, 2.4 BB/9, 7.8 K/9, 48.3 GB%, 8.7 SwStr%)
(51.5 FB%, 23.2 CB%, 21.1 SL%, 4.1 CH%; 43.3 Swing%, 79 Contact%)
vs.
Tim Hudson (35.1 IP, 3.57 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 3.78 xFIP, 1.27 BB/9, 4.33 K/9, 61.3 GB%, 6.8 SwStr%)
(59.7 FB%, 17.3 SL%, 11.6 SF%, 4.3 CH%, 3.9 CT%, 3.2 CB%; 50.1 Swing%, 86.4 Contact%)

The Cardinals have yet to win a game that Carpenter has started. Despite this, Carpenter has allowed just two runs over his last 13 innings with three walks and 12 strikeouts. His numbers have suffered due to one terrible start in which he allowed eight runs in four innings to the Diamondbacks. His strikeouts are up and his ground balls are down, which may have something to do with a decrease in curveballs thrown despite it being his best pitch last year. It may also have something to do with an increase in line drives. Even so, Carpenter remains a frontline starter.

Hudson's bad luck finally relieved itself in his last outing against the Giants, allowing two runs on nine hits in 8.2 innings, not walking any and striking out four. He induced 17 ground balls to 13 fly balls, and while the latter is fairly high for him, the ground ball rate remains very solid. Hudson continues to produce one of the best ground ball rates in the league.

Opposing Numbers:
Despite Carpenter being one of the best pitchers in the league, several Braves hitters have found success against him in the past. A couple that haven't are Alex Gonzalez (3-25, 3 2B, RBI) and Nate McLouth (5-20, HR, 2 RBI), but Brian McCann is 4-12 with a home run and three RBIs; Chipper Jones is 3-8 with a double; and Martin Prado is 3-10 with two doubles and an RBI. Jason Heyward is 1-5 with an RBI.

As usual, Albert Pujols has the number of Hudson, going 12-26 with three home runs and six RBIs. Matt Holliday is 6-16 with a double and two RBIs. Lance Berkman is 4-12 with two doubles and two RBIs. But the hottest against Hudson is Colby Rasmus, who is 5-9 with a double, homer and two RBIs.

What to Look For:
Hudson needs to find a way to contain the middle of the Cardinals order - Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday and Berkman. Doing it and saying it are two entirely different things, though. But Hudson is pitching well right now and has the ability to keep the ball in the park against this tough St. Louis lineup.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Cardinals fans check out Viva El Birdos.

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