Tommy Hanson's Anticipated Debut Not What it Was Cracked Up to Be

Todd CallahanContributor IJune 8, 2009

KISSIMMEE, FL - MARCH 3:  Pitcher Tommy Hanson #73 of the Atlanta Braves throws during an exhibition game against Panama at Champion Stadium March 3, 2009 in Kissimmee, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

It was expected to be the second coming. A 22-year-old with a slider rivaling that of future Hall-of-Fame pitcher John Smoltz and a fastball similar to Nolan Ryan.

Had it rained Sunday, Brave fans would have expected rookie hurler Tommy Hanson to have walked on water to get to the mound.

However, much like the Braves' season so far, reality was far from the truth.

Not his fault; Hanson was built up as the second coming, who would turn what so far has been a mediocre season into a pennant drive. Just like the build up of ShamWow and the Segway, there was no way Hanson could have lived up to the expectation of his first major league start in the regular season.

The pitching line is nothing spectacular.

Hanson, the future of the Braves pitching staff, lasted six innings Sunday before giving way to Jeff Bennett in the top of the seventh. He scattered six hits, walked one, and struck out six.

Unfortunately, half of those hits were caught by fans, as the Milwaukee Brewers blasted three home runs out of Turner Field. Ryan Braun had two of those. The Brewers' power-hitting left fielder sent a 95 MPH fastball into the front row in left field for a two-run homer in the fourth inning. It was the first hit allowed by Hanson.

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Braun also connected on another fastball in the sixth inning for a two-run homer. Both times J.J. Hardy came around to score. The batter after Braun, Mike Cameron, drove an inside fastball into the seats in left field for a two-run home run.

It was the final hit allowed by Hanson, who retired the next three batters in order to close his major league debut.

Despite the Brewers' home run derby, the Braves rookie had some highlights.

He retired the first 10 batters he faced before Hardy reached on what appeared to be an infield single to shortstop. It was ruled as an error on Atlanta's Yunel Escobar, giving the Brewers their first base-runner of the day.

During the streak, Hanson was living up to the hype. The right-hander struck out the side in the second inning facing Prince Fielder, Cameron, and Mat Gamel. Cameron was struck out on a 96 MPH fastball. 

The best news for the Braves, who had been shut out in back-to-back games by the Brewers and had not scored a run in 23 innings, was that they avoided the sweep, beating Milwaukee 8-7 Sunday.

Thanks to Chipper Jones' pair of home runs and five-RBI performance, the Braves rallied twice to defeat the Brewers 8-7.

Trailing by a pair of runs in the eighth inning, the Braves took the lead for good thanks to clutch hitting.

With Martin Prado on first base, pinch hitter Brian McCann doubled off Milwaukee reliever Carlos Villanueva. Prado came home to cut the lead to 7-6. Newly acquired Brave Nate McLouth followed with a double that scored McCann and tied the game.

Escobar capped the inning with a single to left field that scored McLouth to give the Braves their first lead since beating the Chicago Cubs 6-5 last Tuesday.

Reliever Mike Gonzalez struggled in the ninth inning, but he managed to get Jason Kendall to ground out into a double play after issuing a walk to Casey McGehee to lead off the inning.

He hit pinch hitter Jody Gerut before getting Craig Counsell to end the game with a strikeout.

The Braves won, but most fans will remember the way Hanson pitched to the first 10 batters recording a third of a perfect game.

The hype continues Friday when Hanson makes his road debut against the Baltimore Orioles.

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