Right-hander Brandon Beachy allowed no runs in the first inning of Tuesday's 10-1 win over the Dodgers. He allowed zero runs, period, over six innings, to earn his first major league win.
Not putting the offense in a hole out of the gate felt like a huge victory even before the Braves broke the game open with an eight-run ninth inning.
Right-hander Tim Hudson allowed three first-inning runs in the Braves' 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday.
The day before that, right-hander Tommy Hanson gave up two runs in the first inning against the Mets, which doesn't sound like that big of a deal. Except that the Braves lost 3-2.
Hudson has had an ugly early-season string of early-inning lack of command, and the so-far tepid offense has not been able to dig the team out of those holes. The largest was the five-run deficit after three innings against the Marlins on April 13.
It's been long accepted that if a team wants to get to a good pitcher, it had better do it early, before the pitcher has a chance to settle down. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton, Braves' radio analyst, found a solution to the problem long ago. Sutton's trick was to throw to a hitter when he warmed up in the bullpen before a start. He found that having a live target crowding the strike zone made all the difference in adjusting his command early.
One would think, given that he is accessible and willing to offer pointers, that the Braves' starters would take advantage of his experience, but they have yet to do so.
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