Whether it was wearing their pant legs rolled up to their knees, having Chipper Jones on Twitter, or Tommy Hanson taking his recent serendipity to the mound, the Braves finally ended their Monday curse.
After totaling just 18 runs while losing their first 12 Monday games this season, the Braves scored six in the first five innings of an 8-2 win against the Miami Marlins to open a four-game series Monday night at Turner Field.
It was the sixth consecutive win for the surging Braves, but their first Monday win since Aug. 22, 2011. They snapped an inexplicable streak of 16 consecutive Monday losses that included four during their September collapse.
“I think it was eight runs and 13 hits,” Jones said, laughing when asked whether it was the exposed socks or his Twitter status that was the curse-breaker. “For whatever reason we leave the bats at home on Mondays and I think everybody was a little tired of hearing about it so we played well tonight.”
Jason Heyward’s third-inning homer — his 17th of the season and second in two days — gave the Braves a 1-0 lead they never relinquished.
They scored four runs with two out in the fifth – a two-run double by Dan Uggla and two-run pinch single by Juan Francisco — to open a 6-1 lead and remained unbeaten since the 40-year-old third baseman became a social media maven.
That might be stretching it a bit, but Jones surprised everyone last week when he started a Twitter account — @RealCJ10 — in order to diffuse some bogus accounts others had set up with his name attached. Next thing he knew, old “Battle Axe” was having fun communicating with his many Twitter followers.
In a tweet Monday, he wrote: Monday bloody Monday! 0 fer 2012 on Mon and 5-0 on the twitta. Something has to give folks!
The Braves won for the 16th time in 21 games – and sixth in six with Jones on Twitter — to move to a season-high 14 games over .500 (58-44). They pulled to within 3-1/2 games of National League East leader Washington, which didn’t play Monday.
“It took 12 games to figure out it was just the socks?” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked. “No it wasn’t [my idea]. I don’t even know who it was, but whoever came up with it took a little bit too long to hang onto this thing.”
It was Jones’ suggestion that the team wear its pant bottoms up to the knees, old-school style with exposed socks. The only Brave who didn’t wear them up was Hanson, whose pant bottoms were down to his shoetops, like most players wear them these days.
“I didn’t really know until I was walking out [on the field], so they told me don’t worry about it,” Hanson said of his teammates. “My pants are all stretched out at the bottom anyway so…. I didn’t want to have to worry about my pants while I was trying not to walk seven guys.”
Hanson (12-5) worked out of early jams and allowed one run on six hits and three walks in five innings. This after beating the Marlins Wednesday when he allowed seven walks and seven stolen bases in five innings, but only one run.
The Marlins again littered the bases early against Hanson, who left the bases loaded in a scoreless second inning and left two on in a scoreless third. After stealing seven bases in eight tries against Hanson and catcher Brian McCann on Wednesday, the Marlins stole two in three attempts in the first three innings Monday.
After the first three innings, Hanson in his past eight innings – all against Miami — had allowed six hits (four doubles), 10 walks, nine stolen bases … but only one run.
In his past 10 starts before Monday, he was 6-1 despite a 4.95 ERA. The Braves scored five or more runs while he was in six of those games, and did again Monday.
“Finally got us win on a Monday,” said Hanson, who had only one “clean” inning with no walks or hits. “I’d love some more clean ones. It’s been a battle lately, but I felt a lot better with my fastball command today so hopefully I can just keep moving forward and keep getting better.”
He worked a perfect fourth inning before the Marlins scored on Jose Reyes’ RBI double in the fifth to cut the lead to 2-1. Martin Prado made a diving attempt and came up with the ball, but had trapped it.
Carlos Lee followed with a single to left field and speedy Reyes tested Prado’s arm. He came up firing and threw a perfect strike to McCann, who tagged Reyes to prevent the tying run.
“I didn’t think he had a snowball’s chance in hell to throw that guy out,” Jones said, “but he never quit on the play and made a throw right on the money. Mac [had a] great deek at home plate. And a great pick and put the tag down. So that was a momentum-shifter. That ties the game and who knows might get Tommy out of the game at that point. Kept us on top and we were able to chip away and finally put it away.”
The Braves blew the game open against left-hander Mark Buehrle (9-10) in the fifth. Heyward hit a leadoff single and Freddie Freeman doubled off the right-center wall to put two in scoring position with one out. After McCann walked, the slumping Uggla hit a bases-loaded double that bounced past left fielder Bryan Peterson, bringing in two runs.
One out later, Francisco pinch-hit for Hanson and hit a two-run single against Carlos Zambrano.