Hanson's curveballs to Davis a hot topic

Hanson's curveballs to Davis a hot topic

Hanson's curveballs to Davis a hot topic
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez managed to remain patient as he listened to multiple questions about Tommy Hanson's decision to throw Ike Davis seven straight curveballs at one point during Monday night's loss to the Mets.

Had that final curveball generated the same result as most of the others previously thrown to Davis, Gonzalez would have likely never been asked about the sequence of pitches. But this proved to be a popular topic because Hanson threw only curveballs within the five-pitch, sixth-inning at-bat that concluded with Davis hitting a decisive, three-run home run.

"Yeah, conventional wisdom says throw a fastball up and change his eyesight," Gonzalez said. "It was a 2-2 count, so he didn't have much leeway to go with it. All of the sudden, if you try to change elevation and he misses a fastball out over the plate and he hits it, then it's 'why are you throwing a fastball?'"

With runners at the corners, two outs and Jason Bay on deck, Hanson did not necessarily want to waste a pitch to bring the count full. So, instead of trying to get Davis to chase a fastball outside of the strike zone, he went with the same curveball that had brought him consistent success against the Mets' first baseman.

Seventeen of the 21 pitches Hanson has thrown Davis this year have been curveballs. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, 27 of the 55 pitches he threw the Mets first baseman were curveballs.

The formula had worked, as Davis entered the sixth-inning plate appearance with just two hits in 14 at-bats against Hanson. Both of those hits were singles recorded off of fastballs.

"It wasn't a bad pitch at all," Gonzalez said of the home run. "I thought it was more over the plate. It was out over the corner and down a little bit. Tip your hat. It was a good pitch and a good location and he hit it."