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10/08/10 9:32 AM ET
Giants immediately put Braves in rebound mode
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Braves have proven to be a resilient team this season. After a pair of losses to the Phillies this past weekend, they secured the National League Wild Card by winning on Sunday. After losing, 1-0, to the Giants on Thursday night in Game 1 of the NL Division Series at AT&T Park, the Braves are now faced with another bounce-back game Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET on TBS. Otherwise, they face the possibility of elimination with Game 3 in Atlanta on Sunday. Game 2 features Atlanta's Tommy Hanson against San Francisco's Matt Cain in a battle of right-handers. "I can't say enough about the guys in this clubhouse," Braves catcher Brian McCann said after the game. "We show up every day and play hard. That's why we're here right now. This has been a ball. We played great baseball down the stretch. "It's been a fun year. We have to just keep playing. We have to win [Friday]. It's a big game. Every game right now is a big game. We know what we need to do. We have to come out and swing the bats." Aside from their 8-7 win on Sunday, the Braves have been shut out twice in their past three games. The Giants, in contrast, have tossed shutouts in consecutive games, including a 3-0 whitewash of the Padres on Sunday that clinched San Francisco's first NL West title since 2003. "That's just the story of our season," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "'You want to slug, we'll slug, but our pitching's kept us in it. We get a run here, a run there, and then win it with pitching and defense." The San Francisco pitching staff has now tossed 18 shutouts this season. Atlanta has been shut out 17 times. On Thursday night, the Braves managed two hits off Tim Lincecum. "That's the way we expect this whole series to be," Braves left fielder Matt Diaz said. "We think we can come out on the winning end of a 1-0, 2-1 ballgame. That's what we're banking on. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow, and go home and have some fun at home." Expect the low-scoring trend to continue with two teams that have struggled this year to generate offense. The Braves are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 with an entirely different group of players. Their one veteran of the 1990s playoff battles is Chipper Jones, who is recovering from surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and is not available. This group barely resembles the club that won 14 division titles in a row (save the 1994 strike season). That group was led by a trio of Hall of Fame pitchers -- Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz. This one is led by Derek Lowe, Hanson and Tim Hudson. This one has the edge in the bullpen because of Billy Wagner, who will go down in history as one of the all-time great left-handed closers. The old group had Alejandro Pena and later Mark Wohlers. Hanson, finishing his second season, is filled with youthful enthusiasm and is raring to go for his first postseason start. "I guess the key word is excited, I want to get out there," Hanson said. "I really want to get going, get my routine underway, start stretching, get loose and take the mound. I'll come up with a game plan tomorrow and get going." Cain is coming off an outing on Friday night when the Padres knocked him out in the fourth inning while taking a 6-0 lead in a game they'd hold on to win, 6-4, to avoid elimination. Heading into his first career postseason start, Cain said he will draw from that experience. "That was definitely a very exciting game, because I had the opportunity to be able to close out those guys the first night," Cain said. "So that was definitely a test. And I think I'll use that to my advantage on Friday night for some of my mental preparation and how I felt during the game. The good stuff and the bad stuff, I'll carry that into Friday night."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.