It's still too early in the season to say just how good these Braves can be but they provided some clues during opening their home stand.
The latest example was their 5-1 victory over the Cubs Sunday at Turner Field. Atlanta completed a three-game sweep before starting a six-game road trip Monday in Miami.
Slugging first baseman Freddie Freeman was on the disabled list. Lead-off hitter Andrelton Simmons was out, too. The Braves struck out 16 times and couldn't do anything against Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija for five-plus innings.
Yet the Braves won for the fifth time in six games because they got key hits from part-time third baseman Juan Francisco and fill-in shortstop Ramiro Pena as well as a strong outing from starting pitcher Tim Hudson.
“They are resilient,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his players. “We find a way to win ball games. I think the constant, which is a good thing, is going to be our pitching and our defense.”
Hudson and Atlanta's defense held the Cubs down until Braves hitters broke through against Samardzija.
Samardzija recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts but the Braves got to him for three runs in the sixth inning. Hudson ended up being more effective than Samardzija after Chicago's right-hander recorded 11 of his first 13 outs by way of strikeouts.
Hudson (1-0) allowed just three hits and a run allowed over 6 2/3 innings. The Cubs scored against him in the first inning but from there then managed just two hits and five base runners against him, with one batter reaching on an error.
Samardzija (1-1) was a two-sport star at Notre Dame, where he set school records as a wide receiver in football and was rated by Baseball America as the 20th-best prospect. Samardzija started opening day against the Pirates and allowed just two hits over eight scoreless innings.
Samardzija allowed just two hits through 5 2/3 innings before the Braves finally got to him.