Archive for June, 2011

Next for Braves: Baltimore Orioles

Series preview: vs Orioles

When (TV): 7:35 p.m. Friday (SPSO); 7:10 p.m. Saturday (SPSO); 1:35 p.m. Sunday (FSSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Friday: Braves RH Jair Jurrjens (10-3, 2.07 ERA) vs. RH Jeremy Guthrie (3-9, 3.93)

Saturday: Braves RH Tim Hudson (6-6, 3.51 ERA) vs. RH Jake Arrieta (9-4, 4.50)

Sunday: Braves RH Brandon Beachy (3-1, 3.04) vs. LH Zach Britton (6-6, 3.38)

About the Braves:

• Batting: Brian McCann went 8-for-14 with a home run and four RBIs in the three-game sweep of Seattle. He has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games, with five homers. Freddie Freeman went 7-for-22 with a double, two homers and seven RBIs on six-game trip vs. Padres and Mariners, including 3-for-4 on Wednesday with three hits off Felix Hernandez.

• Pitching: Jurrjens has allowed only one earned run in each of his past two starts (over 12 1/3 innings) while beating the Rangers and Padres. After pitching at least seven …

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McCann’s MVP candidacy; Kawakami rocked

As Brian McCann heads toward his sixth straight All-Star selection and first as an elected starter, the Braves catcher is on a hitting binge that’s drawing attention on midseason MVP watch lists.

He’s hit .385 with 10 homers, 22 RBIs and a .468 on-base percentage in his past 26 games, and before Thursday he was sixth in the National League with a .314 average, seventh with a .527 slugging percentage, and eighth with a .388 OBP.

He’s  produced those statistics while playing arguably the toughest position on the field and leading a pitching staff with the second-best ERA (3.07) in the majors.

“It’s amazing to watch on a day-to-day basis, especially from a catcher,” Braves utility man Eric Hinske said. “He plays every day; he wants to play. The at-bats he puts out there, the way he handles left-handed pitching, is amazing, to me. He hammers lefties, and it’s not that easy.

“He’s one of the best players in the game, no doubt in my mind.”

The Braves have hit an …

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Teheran is youngest International League All-Star

Top-rated pitching prospect Julio Teheran led a group of four Triple-A Gwinnett Braves named to the International League All-Star team on Thursday.

Center fielder Jose Constanza, first baseman Mauro Gomez and designated hitter Stefan Gartrell were also selected to the IL All-Star team, which will face the Pacific Coast League All-Stars in Salt Lake City on July 13.

Gwinnett trainer Mike Graus was also named to the IL All-Star staff.

Teheran turned 20 in January and is the youngest player on the IL All-Star team. He was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 13 starts for Gwinnett, and already made two spot starts for the major-league Braves (0-1, 5.19 ERA).

It should be a memorable week for Teheran, who previously was selected along with Braves Double-A right-hander Arodys Vizcaino to play in the July 10 Futures Game during All-Star Weekend at Phoenix.

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Braves quotes after sweep of Mariners

***FREDI GONZALEZ

“Derek Lowe was outstanding. I know he hasn’t gotten a win in a long time, but he did a terrific job. And I thought Rossy did a helluva job getting him through. Then we just got some big knocks when we needed to.”

“We were second in the league [hitting with runners in scoring position]; we talked about that before we started the series. Maybe the guys read the paper.”

Encouraged by what you saw the past couple of days?

“Yeah, and Bedard [Monday starter] ain’t chopped liver, either. We were able to score some runs. The thing I liked, all three games were different. We came from behind, and today we got ahead and kept tacking on some runs.”

On 10 singles off Hernandez

“I wish I could tell you that we sat here and that was an approach. I think it just happened. I think we got some pitches maybe up over the plate a little bit, and we found some holes.”

On Freeman hitting well against the likes of Halladay and Hernandez, former Cy Young Award …

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Jones’ knee sore again, hopes to avoid DL

SEATTLE — With his right knee barking a bit more in recent days, Jones was out of the Braves’ lineup Wednesday.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted to rest the veteran third baseman so he’d have two full days off before the next game. The Braves are off Thursday before a three-game series against Baltimore starts Friday at Turner Field.

Jones has played much of the season with a small meniscus tear in his right knee, and wants to avoid arthroscopic surgery that would likely sideline him for about three weeks.

“It’s bugging me again,” said Jones, who is 3-for-26 with one double and two RBIs in his past six games. “If you’ve got torn meniscus, you’ve got torn meniscus. There’s not a lot you can do about it. Just have to stay on top of it [with treatment].

“If I have to go on the DL for it, I’ll probably get the surgery. But if can avoid it, I’d rather not.”

With Martin Prado on the disabled list, Jones is committed to playing through the injury as long as he …

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Braves 46-35 and optimistic at midpoint

SEATTLE — Nothing would make their cross-country charter flight back to Atlanta tonight more enjoyable for the Braves than a win today to complete a sweep of the Mariners. But it won’t be easy.

The Mariners will have “King” Felix Hernandez on the mound, while the Braves have Derek Lowe trying to snap a nine-start winless streak in the first game of what is technically the second half of the season.

Or didn’t you notice? Tuesday was the 81st game of this 162-game marathon, and the Braves’ 5-4 come-from-behind win made them a season-high 11 games over .500 at 46-35, on pace for a 92-70 season.

A year ago, the Braves were 48-33 at the 81-game pole, and finished 91-71 to win the wild-card postseason berth.

Braves players eagerly await eventual return of Martin Prado, one reason they believe their offense will improve in second half

Braves players eagerly await eventual return of Martin Prado, one reason they believe their offense will improve in second half

They begin today (Wednesday) with the third-best record in the NL right now, a half-game NL West leader San Francisco and 4-1/2 games behind …

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Braves quotes after Tuesday win over Mariners

***FREDI GONZALEZ

On McCann and Hanson

“I thought he did a terrific job handling Tommy today, and Tommy just hung in there for six innings, and we were able to get the lead and hold it. For him not to pitch as sharp as we’ve seen him, and get the W, was outstanding.”

Looked like Hanson settled in after rough couple of innings early

“I agree 100 percent. The first two, three innings he kind of fought himself a little. Then he kind of settled in. He might have thrown 20 pitches in the last two innings, where his pitch count was pretty high the first three or four innings.”

On Heyward

“He made a helluva catch. He’s swinging the bat, running the bases good, and that play at the plate was bang-bang. I haven’t seen the replay, but the people who did see it said it was difficult even with the replay. I tell you what, I was impressed with Ichiro’s throw to the plate. That was a very strong, accurate throw.”

On Schafer’s big hit

“Yeah, against a tough …

Continue reading Braves quotes after Tuesday win over Mariners »

Kimbrel surpasses Rocker strikeout mark

SEATTLE — When Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth inning for his 21st save on Monday against Seattle, he also reached 100 career strikeouts faster than any Braves pitcher in history.

The rookie closer got his 100th strikeout with 59-1/3 career innings of regular-season work (he finished the night with 101 strikeouts in 59-2/3 innings).

John Rocker was the previous fastest Brave to 100 strikeouts, doing it in 70 innings during the 1998-1999 seasons.

It was the fourth time this season that Kimbrel has faced at least three batters in a game and struck them all out, the most by any major league pitcher this season.

Kimbrel extended his own NL record for saves by a rookie before the All-Star break, and was five behind Jonathan Papelbon’s major league first-half rookie record of 26 in 2006.

Beachy also in the books

Brandon Beachy’s nine strikeouts in six innings Monday gave him 20 strikeouts over his past two starts.

The Elias Sports Bureau said he was first Braves …

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O’Flaherty happy to be back in Seattle with Braves

SEATTLE — The last time Eric O’Flaherty pitched in Seattle, he had a 20.25 ERA and wore a Mariners uniform.

Things were quite different Monday, when the Walla Walla, Wash., native returned as a vital member of a Braves bullpen that had the best ERA (2.64) in the major leagues before Tuesday.

After securing 35 tickets for 35 friends and family members, O’Flaherty pitched a hitless eighth inning in Monday’s win. The left-hander trimmed his ERA to 1.24 – tied for second-best among National League relievers – and recorded his 15th hold, tied for third in the majors.

Not bad for a guy the Braves claimed off waivers from the Mariners after the 2008 season.

“I grew up in Eastern Washington, about 3 hours from here,” said O’Flaherty, a sixth-round draft selection by the Mariners in 2003. “But I bought a bought a place here [in Seattle] like, three weeks before I got put on waivers. I live here in the offseason.”

O’Flaherty relished the opportunity to …

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McCann’s homer binge has not abated

SEATTLE – He has obviously been the best-hitting catcher in the National League during his six years with the Braves, and I think you’ve also got to say Brian McCann has  been the best in the major leagues over that period, considering Joe Mauer’s injury woes.

But what McCann is doing lately is another level of hitting. B-Mac is absolutely raking, and will move his name into serious MVP consideration if he keeps up anything even close to this pace for the second half of the season.

McCann is headed for his sixth consecutive All-Star game, and could be an MVP candidate if he keeps up anything close to his current pace.

McCann is headed for his sixth consecutive All-Star game, and could be an MVP candidate if he keeps up anything close to his current pace.

McCann had the first three of the Braves’ meager five hits in Monday night’s win against the Mariners, including his fifth homer in eight games and 14th of the season. (He and Freddie Freeman each hit homers off Erik Bedard, who had previously allowed only one homer by a left-handed hitter all season.)

In his past 23 games, McCann has hit a stunning …

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