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Astros Vs. Braves: Tommy Hanson Fans 10 In 3-2 Atlanta Win

Monday, May 16
(15-26) Houston Astros - 2
(24-19) Atlanta Braves - 3

MLB.com Box Score
FanGraphs Box Score

Eric Hinske backed a strong effort by Tommy Hanson with a late RBI single to put the Braves past the Astros in the series opener, 3-2.

Game Log:
This game was back and forth, but not with much firepower. After the Astros left a runner on third in the first inning, the Braves loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half. However, Hinske and Alex Gonzalez both struck out to leave all three stranded, worth -.073 and -.071 WPA.

The Braves apparently didn't learn anything from the first because they did the same thing in the second. With two on and no outs, Hanson struck out on a bunt attempt for the first out. Martin Prado followed with a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners, and Nate McLouth walked to load the bases with two outs. However, Brian McCann grounded out to end the inning, worth -.075 WPA.

The Astros scored the first run in the fifth when Matt Downs hit a solo homer off Hanson for a 1-0 lead, worth .152 WPA. But the Braves finally broke their scorelessness (?) with two runs in the sixth when Hinske and Gonzalez singled to lead off the inning, and Joe Mather plated both with a single, worth .204 WPA. Atlanta had a chance for more in the inning, but Prado grounded into a double play to end it.

That proved to be big when the Astros tied the game at two in the seventh. Carlos Lee reached on an error by Prado and eventually scored on a double by Downs, worth .207 WPA.

But the Braves came right back in the bottom of the seventh with Fernando Abad on the mound for Houston. After walking McLouth and Dan Uggla, Hinske lined a single to right that scored McLouth and gave the Braves the go-ahead run, 3-2, worth .209 WPA, the biggest swing in the game.

The Focus:
Hanson recorded his fifth career double digit strikeout game, coming within one of his career high by fanning 10 Houston batters. Despite it being just his fifth, Hanson has two double digit strikeout games in his last four starts. By allowing just two runs - one earned - in seven innings, he hasn't allowed more than two runs in his last five starts, and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any start this season.

Stat of the Day:
Hanson threw just 27 balls over 94 pitches.

WPA Winners:
(HOU) Matt Downs: .348
(ATL) Eric Hinske: .227
(ATL) Joe Mather: .222

WPA Losers:
(HOU) Fernando Abad: -.267
(HOU) Brett Wallace: -.223
(ATL) Brian McCann: -.176

Key Lines:
(ATL) Tommy Hanson: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, ER, BB, 10 K, .054 WPA (7 GB, 4 FB)
(ATL) Eric Hinske: 3-4, RBI
(ATL) Joe Mather: 2-4, 2 RBI

(HOU) Matt Downs: 2-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, .348 WPA
(HOU) Brett Myers: 6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, -.032 WPA (8 GB, 4 FB)
(HOU) Fernando Abad: 0.1 IP, H, ER, 2 BB, K, -.267 WPA

Looking Forward:
The Braves and Astros finish the two-game series with a 1:05 start on Tuesday as Derek Lowe faces Wandy Rodriguez.

For more on the series, Braves fans check out Talking Chop and Astros fans check out Crawfish Boxes.

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