Hudson looks to continue a strong start to the season as the Braves open a three-game series with the New York Mets on Friday at Shea Stadium.
Hudson (2-0, 0.86 ERA) has been something of a disappointment since Atlanta acquired him in a trade with Oakland in Dec. 2004, and went just 13-12 with a career-worst 4.86 ERA last season. However, he has been dominant this season, allowing just two runs in 21 innings and earning NL player of the week honors on Monday.
“He’s spotting the ball much better. His control is so much better,” manager Bobby Cox said. “He’s on a mission. He’s going to win a ton.”
Hudson allowed just one run in seven innings in his most recent start, an 8-4 home win over Florida. He allowed the run in the first inning in windy, chilly conditions, but hung on to improve to 102-17 when his team scores at least four runs.
“I couldn’t ask for a better start,” Hudson said. “We were able to put together a big inning and that allowed me to relax. My command was not there, but a lot of that was due to the conditions.
Hudson went 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in five April starts last season, but looks like a different pitcher now.
“The last couple of years, he’s had two or three starts all year where I’ve said, “‘That’s the guy that I remember,’” teammate Chipper Jones told the Braves’ official Web site. “Everything else was just kind of mediocre. Through his first three starts this year, it’s been that same type of (encouraging) feeling. (He) looks like the guy that we signed.”
Hudson is 5-2 with a 3.76 ERA in eight career starts against the Mets and 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in four outings at Shea.
The Braves (10-5) could use a strong outing from him on Friday. They lost 3-0 to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday for just their second defeat in five games and fell out of first place in the NL East, one-half game behind the Mets (10-4).
New York has outscored its opponents 28-6 during a three-game winning streak. The Mets beat Florida 11-3 on Thursday, wrapping up a two-game sweep in Miami and boosting their major league-high batting average to .303.
“We’re swinging the bats well,” said manager Willie Randolph, whose team outscored the Marlins 20-5 and outhit them 33-7. “It’s a good time to have this challenge against the Braves.”
Backup catcher Ramon Castro, filling in while Paul Lo Duca nursed a sore right hand, homered and drove in three runs, Carlos Beltran went 4-for-6 with a home run, and Jose Valentin added his first homer. David Wright went 1-for-3 with a run, extending his franchise-record hitting streak to 26 games, dating to last season.
Starter Mike Pelfrey (0-0, 3.18 ERA) will look to help keep the Mets rolling in the series opener. He made his season debut last Friday and allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings of the Mets’ 3-2 win over Washington.
“Overall, I was pleased with the way he kind of grinded it out,” Randolph said. “He showed some poise when he had to.”
Pelfrey, who won a job as the fifth starter in spring training, has never faced the Braves, and is making his sixth career start.