Atlanta – Tommy Hanson was very much aware of who he’d be facing in these two starts.
It didn’t faze him a bit.
The big right-hander became the first NL rookie to beat the New York Yankees and Boston in consecutive starts, throwing two-hit ball over six scoreless innings, and homers by Chipper Jones and Garret Anderson carried Atlanta past the Red Sox, 2-1, on Sunday.
The Braves snapped a four-game losing streak and prevented a Boston sweep in a weekend series dominated by pitching. The teams combined for nine runs in three games, and Hanson (4-0) sure kept it going, despite a bout with the flu that put his start in doubt even as he was riding to the ballpark with teammate Kris Medlen.
“I told Kris he’d better be ready to pitch,” Hanson said. “I felt horrible waking up this morning. Driving to field, I didn’t feel good at all. But once I got going, got my blood flowing, I felt a lot better.”
The Red Sox would certainly vouch for that. They were limited to a pair of fourth-inning singles by the 22-year-old rookie, who has been compared to everyone from John Smoltz to Roy Halladay – after just five big league starts.
Hanson stretched his scoreless streak to 20 innings, including 5 innings against the Yankees on Tuesday. The Braves took that one, 4-0, and didn’t get another win until Hanson went to the mound again.
“If he was sick,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, “I really don’t want to see him when he’s not sick.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hanson was the first National League rookie to pull off the Yankees-Red Sox double.
“Facing them and getting two wins is definitely awesome, especially back to back,” he said. “It’s definitely been fun. Hopefully we’ll keep on rolling and keep winning some games.”
This might have been his most impressive showing yet considering his ailing body and having to start on a day when it was 91 degrees at the first pitch and climbed higher through the afternoon. Hanson threw 97 pitches, keeping the Red Sox off balance with a fastball in the mid-90s mixed with nasty breaking balls.
Hanson struck out only two. It didn’t matter.
“He threw a lot of strikes and stayed ahead of the hitters. That’s key,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “He didn’t get a lot of strikeouts, but he threw good strikes.”