Strong pitching has helped the Atlanta Braves climb to the top of the NL East.
Hanson looks to put a pair of embarrassing outings behind him when he takes the ball for the Braves on Saturday against the slumping Florida Marlins.
Atlanta (47-33) has opened up a two-game division lead over second-place New York, thanks in large part to a 3.72 staff ERA that ranks fifth in the majors, but has been inflated by Hanson’s last two outings.
Against the Chicago White Sox on June 22, Hanson (7-5, 4.50 ERA) was pounded for career highs of nine runs and 13 hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 9-6 loss. He again got lifted with two outs in the fourth Sunday against Detroit, when he surrendered six runs and eight hits in a 10-4 loss.
The two poor performances increased the 23-year-old right-hander’s ERA by more than a full run from 3.38.
“It’s pretty frustrating, to be honest with you,” Hanson said. “It’s definitely not fun. It’s not a good feeling. I know I can go out there and pitch.”
Hanson was 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in the five starts before his recent nosedive, a stretch that began with a solid outing May 26 at the Marlins. He gave up two runs and four hits in six innings of a 7-3 win, improving to 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three career starts versus the Marlins.
The Braves defeated Florida for the third time in four tries this season with a thrilling 4-3, 11-inning victory Friday.
However, Omar Infante(notes) hit a two-run single off Florida closer Leo Nunez(notes) in the bottom of the frame, giving Atlanta its fifth win in seven games overall. The Braves improved to a major league-best 29-9 at home, including 19-3 since May 18.
The Marlins (37-42) aren’t feeling the same way, having lost six of eight to fall 9 1/2 games behind Atlanta.
Ramirez is 7 for 17 with two home runs and eight RBIs in his last four games, and 2 for 4 with a homer lifetime against Hanson.
The Marlins will give the ball to Anibal Sanchez(notes) (7-4, 3.18), who gave up two runs and four hits in six innings Sunday, when he didn’t get a decision in a 4-2 loss to San Diego. The right-hander went 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA in five June starts after going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in six May outings - one of them against Atlanta.
Sanchez allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-4 home win over the Braves on May 25.