NEW YORK -- A somber mood filled the visitors' clubhouse at Citi Field late Wednesday night. Instead of celebrating a win that extended their comfortable lead atop the National League East standings to eight games, the Braves were subdued by the horrific injury that ended Tim Hudson's masterpiece and season.
By the time the Braves completed their 8-2 win over the Mets, the home runs hit by Evan Gattis, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons were afterthoughts. This was a night that will remembered as the one in which Hudson was carted off the field in the eighth inning with a fractured right ankle.
"You're talking about a guy who had a chance to complete a game and a shutout and the whole thing," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Now you don't even hear music in the clubhouse."
Really, the only thing the Braves players wanted to know after the game was the status of Hudson, who was in complete command until his right ankle was trampled by Eric Young Jr. at the end of a bang-bang play at first base.
Their assumed fears were confirmed a short time later, when the team revealed X-rays showed Hudson had fractured his ankle. He will undergo surgery in Atlanta once the swelling subsides.
"That's basically all that was on my mind, basically the rest of the game, was how he was doing," catcher Brian McCann said. "You think about his family, who was here watching in the stands. We won, but it was a tough night."
Hudson was in complete command as he entered the eighth, having surrendered just three hits and bidding for a shutout. But the freak play unfolded after Young's one-out grounder bounced off first baseman Freddie Freeman's chest.
Hudson raced to the first-base bag in time to get the feed from Freeman and retire Young. But as Young ran through the bag, he landed on Hudson's right ankle, causing it to turn inward in a horrific manner.
"I saw his foot as I'm going for the base right there in the middle, and as I came down, I knew I didn't get any of the base," Young said. "I knew I got all of his foot. And I pretty much knew it was probably broke right when I did it, and that's why I sprinted right back to him and tried to console him as much as I could."
Young stayed by Hudson's side after Hudson crumpled to the ground, and later had a chance to talk to Hudson before the veteran left Citi Field with his wife and children, who had made the trip to New York.
"EY is just a great dude," Uggla said. "He plays the game hard in the right way. He's just one of those guys that you love him. You could see how devastated and upset he was that he was the one who stepped on him. It was just one of those freak accident plays."
After hopping once on his left leg, Hudson fell face first to the ground in pain and remained there until medical personnel arrived and carted him to the clubhouse.
"Once I turned around, he was already on the ground," Freeman said. "I didn't see it and I don't want to see it. I heard the reaction from the crowd. That just [stinks]. That was one of the best games I've ever seen him pitch."
When Hudson pitched around Daniel Murphy's first-inning double and struck out each of the three batters he faced in the second inning, McCann had the sense that this could have been a special night for the veteran hurler.
"He was able to throw anything in any count," McCann said. "When he's throwing frontdoor curveballs with a 2-2 count, he's basically throwing it anywhere he wants. He came up to me and said he wanted to throw this frontdoor curveball to [David Wright] when we get two strikes on him. To be able to execute something like that when that is not something he normally does, that's how good he was feeling."
Before Hudson's injury, the Braves turned around the offensive struggles that plagued them in their previous three games, in which they totaled four runs and stranded 28 runners.
Gattis provided the Braves an early lead off Mets starter Jeremy Hefner with the monstrous solo homer he sent into the second level of seats beyond the left-field wall with two outs in the second. Gattis, who played with Hefner at Seminole Junior College in 2005, added one of the two fifth-inning singles that preceded the three-run shot that Uggla sent into the left-field seats.
After Uggla hit his 20th home run, Simmons capped a five-run fifth with a two-run home run off Hefner, who was charged with six runs (five earned) and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
When the Braves entered this season, Simmons appeared to be their only everyday player not capable of hitting at least 20 home runs. But the talented shortstop already has 11 homers, including four in his previous seven games.
But there was little reason to discuss these home runs at the end of what should have been a much more celebratory night.
"They're worried about their teammate and a guy they really enjoy being around and like," Gonzalez said. "There's still a lot of concern in the air."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.