(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
OK, so it’s a makeup game for a rain-out and the forecast isn’t exactly peachy. I read on weather.com that scattered thunderstorms should be arriving for the afternoon. I see.
On top of that, it’s a 4 o’clock game. The Braves are coming off a big series against the Phillies, and a letdown at that after losing two out of three thanks to Ryan Howard and his three home runs. So I’d venture a guess that the crowd today will be a lot more like the Nationals’ series than the Phillies.
But there are a couple of things working in fans’ favor today. $1 tickets and a really nice pitching matchup: Tommy Hanson vs. Max Scherzer, the top young pitcher for the Braves vs. the top young pitcher for the Dbacks.
Hanson (7-2, 3.05) has won his last two outings – against the Nationals and Padres – and has pitched at least six innings in each of his last five starts and seven of eight.
Scherzer (7-6, 3.94) has faced the Braves twice the season and has been either really good or really bad. He shut them out for six innings in a 12-0 win on May 16 at Turner Field. Then two weeks later on May 31, the Braves rocked him for eight runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings in Arizona.
So take your pick which way he might go today.
Speaking of Hanson, one of the writers from Southern California here a couple weeks back for the Dodgers series told me something sort of funny I thought I’d share about Tommy Hanson. Growing up, he used to be a pudgy catcher.
Hanson? Mr. long and lean, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound string bean out there? The one who was even lankier than usual after he lost 10-12 pounds when he had the flu?
Yep, Hanson nodded with a smile, he was pudgy.
“When I was 13 or 14,” Hanson said. “Then I started growing, and from then on I was on the skinnier side. Right before my junior year of high school, I grew four inches. I was 6-2 and (grew) to 6-6. I haven’t grown since.”
Ouch, that had to hurt, right?
“Yeah, bad,” Hanson said. “I’ve always had growing pains growing up, but that was wasn’t fun. I was so awkward too. Anything athletic, I was legs and arms going everywhere, just baseball in the street, football, whatever. It was weird.”
Hanson said he pitched and caught when he was younger and played some corner infield. He didn’t start focusing on pitching until his junior year in high school. At 6-foot-6, at that point, we can see why. Anyway, just a little food for thought as you look out at Hanson on the mound today (or picture him, for those of you at, ahem, work.)
So the Braves are six games behind the Phillies with 46 games to play. Is it over? You can’t really say that with so many games remaining over the stretch run against NL East teams. I suppose just about anything could happen in September.
But I was curious to hear what Braves players thought about this, now that they have dropped two of three to the Phillies – and let’s be honest, the one they won was a gift.
So I hijacked two paragraphs from David O’Brien’s game story written in the wee hours of this morning. And here’s what I was looking for:
(From DOB) Javier Vazquez said there was no reason for the Braves to sulk after the loss. With 46 games to play — six against the Phillies — they are tied with Chicago for fourth in the wild-card standings, 3-1/2 games behind leader Colorado.
“There are a lot of games to be played,” he said. “We’ve got to keep fighting. We’re playing well. We lost two games here; we could have won the first game. We’re right there in the wild card, and six games out in the East.”
I guess we’ll see what they think based on their concentration here going forward. Their actions will speak loudly.
CATCHING UP WITH CARLYLE
When I was at Gwinnett last Thursday watching Tim Hudson, I had a chance to catch up with our old friend Buddy Carlyle, who is well on his way to learning how to function as a pitcher with his Type I Diabetes.
He’s been pitching well. Between his minor league rehab and since when he was optioned to Gwinnett, Carlyle has appeared in eight games, between Rome and Gwinnett. He was scoreless in the first seven of them. (Oops, right up until I asked him about that the other day, and then he gave up two runs in 1 2/3 innings against Pawtucket on Friday night. Sorry, Buddy.)
But the outing prior to that, Carlyle struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect innings. He’s 2-0 with a 1.46 ERA in eight games overall, with nine hits allowed in 12 1/3 innings. And get this: 17 strikeouts and zero walks.
Most important to Carlyle is he’s feeling good and he’s feeling strong. And he’s learning how to pitch with his diabetes.
I’m sure he was a little disappointed that he was optioned to Gwinnett rather than returning to Atlanta, but he’s also making the best of his time there, getting back in a routine and learning how to adjust his blood sugar levels as needed.
He told me on days he pitches, he probably checks it 10 times (as opposed to maybe four times on other days).
“I’m checking right before game starts, again in the fourth, then I check it about every other inning just to make sure because it drops sometimes pretty quick when I’m out there,” Carlyle said.
He’s learned a trick that if he takes a Snickers bar and divides it into fourths he can use that to get his blood sugar back to normal. He needs 20 points? Eats one-fourth of a Snickers bar. Needs 50 points? Eats a half. He knows that might not be the most nutritional way to go, maybe, but it’s working for him.
Then he’ll check his blood sugar again 45 minutes after the game. He’s got over an hour drive back home to Peachtree City from Gwinnett and sometimes, he said, he’ll pull the car over and check it on the way home.
“Especially if I have a heavy carb load where I give myself a lot of insulin with dinner,” Carlyle said. “I may be being a little over-paranoid. But I’d rather do that than have something happen.”
Yes, the guy is being diligent. And I think that’s good.
Carlyle said he’s had some great support from those around him – like Vazquez, who has a daughter with Type I diabetes and more recently Gwinnett trainier Mike Graus, who happens to be diabetic himself.
Anyway, Carlyle’s spirits are good. He’s pitching well. And I’d think he’ll be up in September and contributing.
OK, more from the ballpark in a bit.