Archive for April, 2011

Moylan’s missed; Braves’ bats remain problematic

SAN DIEGO – It can be debated whether manager Fredi Gonzalez should have let Cristhian Martinez stay in, having pitched two innings, to bunt in the 13th and go back out to pitch in the bottom of the inning, wherein he gave up a walkoff homer for the second time in five days. (But who would you have had replace him, George Sherrill? Closer Craig Kimbrel, and then have Sherrill close if the Braves got to that point?)

Ryan Ludwick hit two homers in Monday's 5-3 Padres win, including a game-ending two-run shot off skidding reliever Cristhian Martinez.

Ryan Ludwick hit two homers in Monday's 5-3 Padres win, including a game-ending two-run shot off skidding reliever Cristhian Martinez.

It can be debated whether Gonzalez should have let Eric O’Flaherty pitch to Nick Hundley with two out in the seventh instead of bringing in Scott Linebrink, especially since the right-handed-hitting Hundley has actually hit better this season against righties (.305/.388/.542) than lefties (.267/.250/.333), and O’Flaherty has better numbers against righties (.250/.382/.286) than does Linebrink (.320/.346/.680), especially …

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Braves quotes after 13-inning loss to San Diego

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On not scoring after Chipper’s 12th-inning leadoff double

“We had some opportunities. They’re 1 or 2 in the major leagues in ERA. It’s hard to score runs against them.”

On Lowe

“Derek was outstanding. They gave him some tough at-bats; his pitch count was pretty high in the sixth inning. They’re a scrappy team. I know they haven’t been able to score some runs, but they did today. They manufactured some runs. When you get into those extra-inning games – 11, 12, 13 – anything can happen really. They’re the home team, so they hit last.”

On bulllpen

“They’ve been [pitching well]. Pitch over the plate to the last guy, so we lost. I think other than maybe a couple of guys, should be ready to go tomorrow. That’s a good sign to be able to cover seven innings and maybe be able to not use just one guy.”

3 extra-inning games in 5 days in 3 cities

“I hope it changes soon. I don’t know if my gut can take another extra-inning game. Maybe …

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McLouth’s average rising since drop to 8-hole

SAN DIEGO – All it took to get Nate McLouth going was dropping him to the bottom of the Braves’ batting order.

Actually, the Braves center fielder thinks the timing of his little surge and being dropped from the No. 2 spot was coincidental. But he sure won’t complain about hitting in the 8-hole.

“It doesn’t matter where I’m hitting, I just feel like I’ve had good at-bats,” said McLouth, who hit .320 with three doubles and three RBIs in the past seven games before Monday night’s series opener against San Diego, including a two-out, tie-breaking, two-run single in the 10th inning of Sunday’s 9-6 win at San Francisco.

McLouth hit .217 before he was dropped from the 2-hole on April 17, when manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Jason Heyward up from sixth to second.

“I didn’t feel like I was having bad at-bats earlier, I just feel like now I’m starting to roll a little bit,” McLouth said. “I think it’s coincidence, though, as far as moving in the …

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Heyward: Braves retain never-say-die attitude

SAN DIEGO – They led the majors with 25 wins in their final at-bat last season, and Jason Heyward said this year’s Braves have the same never-say-die attitude.

Heyward’s leadoff single in the 10th inning on Sunday night at San Francisco ignited a three-run inning in a 9-6 win, one that gave the Braves a series sweep. It was their first win of the season in their final at-bat.

The Braves rallied after blowing a three-run lead in the seventh inning and trailing by a run going into the eighth. Dan Uggla led off the eighth with a tying homer.

“That’s just this team,” said Heyward, whose three-run homer in the seventh provided a 5-2 lead. “It’s a credit to us as a whole, how we never give up on games. Just like last year. Somebody may punch us in the mouth and beat us, but if we still have an opportunity to win we’re going to hang in there.

“Same team, same attitude. With the same great mix of veterans and young guys that come in and understand this is a …

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Of Braves’ slumpbuster song, weekend resurgence

SAN DIEGO – Maybe it’s David Ross singing lines from Eddie Money’s “Shakin’” at random moments before and after the past few games, including while he was dressing after Saturday’s win at San Francisco, and as he walked down a hallway to the clubhouse Sunday morning before the series finale against the Giants.

Shakin' slumpbuster

Shakin' slumpbuster

More likely, though, the Braves are on a little roll now because they were due for it to happen, because no one who follows baseball closely believed the poor team hitting by the Braves in the first three weeks of the season was an accurate indicator of what was to expect over the course of the season.

Notwithstanding Ross’ crooning (and dancing; yes, you should see it), the Braves’ weekend turnaround was probably an inevitable result of a team that clicked with its various key components going at once for the first time in an entire series all season.

This Braves team is a good one, and that showed for three straight days in front …

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Jones has birthday bash; Heyward giant vs. S.F.

SAN FRANCISCO — Birthday boy Chipper Jones wasn’t certain it was smart to be back in the lineup on Sunday with his sore right knee, but felt he needed to play.

The Braves were glad he did, since the 39-year-old’s two-run double in the first inning accounted for their only scoring for the first six innings of a wild 9-6, 10-inning Braves win that clinched a sweep of the Giants.

The veteran third baseman was out of the lineup Saturday because of soreness in his right knee, not the knee that was surgically repaired in August.

“I was OK [during Sunday's game],” he said. “It started to get a little sore there at the end.” I’ve got some kind of bursitis or bursa sac in my right knee that’s inflamed. But it felt better the last two days. I got treatment the last two days, and it certainly felt better today than it did yesterday.”

Saturday  marked just the third game this season that he didn’t start, and the first because of injury.

While he worked on a crossword …

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Series preview: Braves at Padres

Series preview: Braves at Padres

When (TV): 10:05 p.m. Monday-Tuesday (SPSO), 3:35 p.m. Wednesday (SPSO).

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves RH Derek Lowe (2-3, 3.25 ERA) vs. RH Dustin Moseley (0-3, 1.40)

Tuesday: Braves RH Jair Jurrjens (1-0, 0.69) vs. RH Aaron Harang (4-0, 1.88)

Wednesday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (2-3, 3.21) vs. RH Mat Latos (0-3, 5.94)

About the Braves:

• Batting: Brian McCann has hit.404 (21-for-52) with five doubles, four homers and 20 RBI in 16 games at Petco Park, where he has a .500 on-base percentage and .731 slugging percentage… Jason Heyward is 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles and seven RBI six games against the Padres… Chipper Jones has hit .346 with six homers and a 1.025 OPS in 22 games at Petco Park.

• Pitching: Lowe is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 15 starts vs. the Padres and 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his past three, but last faced them in 2008. He went 7-2 with a 1.46 ERA in a nine-start stretch dating to …

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Braves quotes after win & sweep of Giants

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On the tumultuous win

“Man, oh man, I don’t even know how to start. A couple of big innings for us, one big inning for them – and we were able to survive it. Beachy was good. And let’s get out of here, because it looks like that club is getting ready to get hot. On to San Diego.”

On his team’s patience at plate in big inning

“That’s where it starts, base on balls, get some pitches to hit. I thought Nate’s at-bat was outstanding. He made him throw three strikes in a situation where it’s not easy – bases loaded and everybody wants to be a hero. Showed a lot of patience, a lot of professionalism on Nate’s part to be able to come up with those big two-out RBIs.”

On doing it against Brian Wilson

“He’s one of top [closers] in the game, and I really don’t like to see him come in the game. Usually it’s not a good sign. They’re getting ready to win a game when he’s in there.”

More on McLouth

“I think he likes that seventh and …

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Chipper’s back in lineup; SS Hicks gets 1st start

SAN FRANCISCO – Birthday boy Chipper Jones is back in the Bravos’ lineup today as they try to complete their first series sweep. He rested a sore right knee Saturday, and he didn’t sound entirely convinced that playing today was a wise decision.

As he worked on a crossword puzzle in the clubhouse a couple of hours before the first pitch, I asked him if the knee felt better today.

This was Chipper Jones (left) in Friday's game, when he had a two-run double in 4-1 series-opening win over Giants. He had another two-run double in the first inning of today's series finale.

This was Chipper Jones (left) in Friday's game, when he had a two-run double in 4-1 series-opening win over Giants. He had another two-run double in the first inning of today's series finale.

“Not really. I haven’t moved around at all yet,” he said. “But it felt a little better from a standpoint of the treatment I had on it.

“It’s probably risky out there on that wet track, but I think I need to be in there today.”

Well, alrighty then. Happy birthday and happy Easter.

He’s 39 today, and the Braves hope Chipper can hit today like he has on many previous birthdays. In 11 birthday …

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With Chipper out, Freeman gets call to hit third

SAN FRANCISCO — Rookie Freddie Freeman’s rapid progress made him the hitter that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez turned to Saturday to fill Chipper Jones’ important spot in the order.

Not bad for a rookie hitting eighth a week ago.

Before going 1-for-5 on Saturday in his first stint in the 3-hole, Freeman hit .349 with a .462 on-base percentage in his previous 15 games, including 8-for-20 with three homers, six RBIs and seven walks in his past eight.

He has struck out only once in the pasta 10 games.

“Freddie’s hitting third today, huh?” Jones said. “Well, he’s the hottest guy in the lineup.”

Freeman, 21, has impressed with his defense since spring training, but in recent weeks his approach at the plate has drawn increased praise. Particularly his plate discipline and ability to use the whole field, to drive the ball the other way.

“He’s comfortable right now,” Jones said. “He’s not trying to do too much. He’s staying within himself and …

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