Archive for September, 2011

SS Gonzalez out Wednesday, doubtful if Braves advance

Alex Gonzalez said he woke up Wednesday with his right calf feeling better, but the Braves aren’t going to take any chances with the veteran shortstop. The Braves figure it could be as long as two weeks before the calf is better, leaving doubt that Gonzalez would be able to play if the Braves make the playoffs.

Veteran Jack Wilson was in the lineup starting at shortstop Wednesday night against the Phillies, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he had no plans to pinch hit or use Gonzalez in the field late.

“He’s going to be out for a couple of weeks, I would think,” Fredi Gonzalez said. “I feel comfortable with (Jack) Wilson. He’s done it for a lot of years with the Pirates and for me he’s one of the top defenders in the league. He’s not chopped liver at the plate either. He can handle the bat.”

The trouble for the Braves is Gonzalez was one of their hottest hitters of late, going 15-for-33 (.455) with three home runs, five doubles and eight RBIs in his …

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Once again, Braves turn to Hudson in season finale

And so it comes down to this. Again.

For the second year in a row, the Braves will turn to veteran Tim Hudson as they try for a win to continue their season.

For the second year in a row, the Braves will turn to veteran Tim Hudson as they try for a win to continue their season.

For the second year in a row, we come to Turner Field to watch Tim Hudson and an injury-depleted Braves team face the division-champion Phillies in the final game of the season with Atlanta’s playoff hopes in the balance.

And if they win, the Braves will have to wait around for a while to find out if they’ll need to play a tiebreaker tomorrow. Only they shouldn’t have to wait as long as they did a year ago, when they waited for the Giants to beat the Padres.

This time, the Braves should only have to wait about an hour to find out how the Cardinals fare against Houston, which will determine whether the Braves travel to St. Louis tomorrow for a one-game tiebreaker.

If the Braves win tonight and the Cardinals lose, the Braves are in the postseason. If they win and the Cardinals win, or they lose and the Cardinals …

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Hudson eager to take mound for Wednesday’s finale

Four losses in a row have the Braves down to their final game of the season for a shot at making the playoffs, this after leading the wild card by 8 ½ games three weeks ago.

But their ace Tim Hudson will take the mound at Turner Field on Wednesday night against the Phillies confident.

“I’m ready,” Hudson said after Tuesday’s loss. “I feel good about it. I feel like we’re going to go out there and win the ball game tomorrow. Hopefully with the win it’s a clinch. If not, we’ll go to St. Louis and take care of business there.”

Hudson is pitching against the Phillies’ Joe Blanton, though Blanton is expected to go only a couple of innings in a “bullpen game” for the Phillies, who’d like to get Cole Hamels and Vance Worley some action as well.

The Braves and Cardinals are now tied for the wild card lead, meaning if they both win or both lose on Wednesday, they’ll go to a tiebreaker on Thursday.

The Braves and Cardinals would play a one-game playoff in …

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Braves quotes after Tuesday loss to Phillies

FREDI GONZALEZ

On Lowe’s performance

“It’s not what we want, obviously. I’m not going to mince any words. And I’m sure it’s not what he wanted, either. But it is what it is, now we’ve got one game to play in the month of September. Then October comes around and it’s a new month. There’s not a guy in that locker room that I wouldn’t want on my team to play that game.

“We’ve played 161 games with those guys, and I wouldn’t trade any of them [before] tomorrow.”

How to explain the offense, another bad hitting performance

“I don’t know. We had some chances against Oswalt. He turned a double play on us.

“When you don’t pitch, you kind of look the way we did tonight. Yet we’ve got one game to win tomorrow, then a new month, and the guys we need to win tomorrow are out there. I believe in all those guys, and we’ll get it done.”

Time to lean on veterans?

“We’ll lean on everybody.”

Cumulative effect of last three weeks have an effect …

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Gonzalez doubtful for Wednesday; Braves call up Pastornicky

Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez is doubtful for Wednesday’s final game against the Phillies after he had to leave Tuesday night’s game with a strained right calf, the same injury which had kept him out of the final four games of the Braves last road trip.

The Braves have called up shortstop prospect Tyler Pastornicky from the Instructional League to give them another shortstop to back up the veteran Jack Wilson Wednesday in Gonzalez’s absence.

“It looks doubtful for (Gonzalez) tomorrow,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the game Tuesday night, characterizing it as more serious than just re-aggravating his sore calf. “But hopefully it’s not one of those things that’s a lingering thing.”

Gonzalez returned to the lineup on Monday against the Phillies and showed no ill effects, while going 1-for-3 with a double. But he left Tuesday night’s game after only two innings in the field. Gonzalez pinch hit Wilson for him in the bottom of the second …

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Moylan set for surgery Monday

Reliever Peter Moylan got the best-case scenario when Dr. James Andrews said his shoulder surgery would only require six months’ recovery. Moylan is hoping that means he could return to action in spring training.

He will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Monday performed by Braves orthopedist Dr. Xavier Duralde, who gave him his initial diagnosis of tears in his rotator cuff and labrum.

An MRI last January first revealed a rotator cuff tear but Moylan was able to manage it with cortisone shots. That changed six outings into his return from back surgery.

“They’ve got to clean up the labrum and the cuff, and it should be about six months,” Moylan said. “As soon as you hear shoulder, the first thing I thought was every other guy who’s ever had to have a shoulder completely repaired has been out for 12 to 18 months. I was fearing the worst.”

As it is, Moylan said he could be playing catch in as soon as three months.

Whether his return is with Atlanta is yet to be seen. …

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Hudson set to pitch Wednesday, Beachy Thursday if necessary

While the Braves were hoping to save Tim Hudson to pitch in Game 1 of the Division Series, he was prepared to take the mound Wednesday against the Phillies with a shot at the playoffs on the line.

Hudson was the man on the mound for the Braves the final day of the 2011 season, when he beat the Phillies to help the Braves clinch the wild card. He limited them to four runs in seven innings in an 8-7 win.

“My last two starts I considered playoff type games; essentially they were that important,” said Hudson, who won both of them, against the Mets and Nationals. “(Wednesday) is no different.”

Hudson will face right-hander Joe Blanton, who is expected to pitch the first couple of innings in what will be a “bullpen” game for the Phillies. Manager Charlie Manuel wants to get Cole Hamels and Vance Worley into the game as well.

Entering Tuesday, the Braves had won only three of their previous 10 games and Hudson had won two of them. He had to leave his last start against the …

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Jones back in lineup despite bone bruise in right knee

Chipper Jones tweaked an already ailing right knee Monday night and underwent X-rays after the game and an MRI on it Tuesday morning, but he was back in the lineup Tuesday night against the Phillies.

X-rays were negative, Jones said, and the MRI revealed a bone bruise and some fluid in the knee, which he had surgically repaired in July. There is little treatment for it other than rest, and rest is not an option for a team fighting for a wild card spot. So Jones was back in there for the 19th time in the Braves’ past 21 games.

“Can’t quit now,” said Jones, who aggravated his knee running the bases in the sixth inning on Monday night but still went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double. “…I’ve been preaching all along, ‘People are tired. People are hurt. So what? Let’s go. Strap it up.’”

Jones said if it were April, he wouldn’t be playing. As it is, there’s not much he can do other than ice it and try to take it a little easier in batting practice.

Jones …

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Wasted scoring opportunities undermine Braves

Say what you will about the injury-riddled Braves pitching staff’s pattern of “five-and-fly” starts in recent weeks, or the weariness and sudden vulnerability of a heretofore overwhelming bullpen, but that could be overcome if not for an anemic offense.

Playing on a balky knee, Chipper Jones has still been one of the only Braves to hit consistently with runners in scoring position this season, particularly in the second half.

Playing on a balky knee, Chipper Jones has still been one of the only Braves to hit consistently with runners in scoring position this season, particularly in the second half.

The Braves’ .239 team batting average in September is better than only the Cubs and Padres in the NL, and their .669 OPS is better than only the Astros and Padres. The Cubs, Astros and Padres, as you know, are going nowhere but home in a few days.

And that’s not even the worst of it. No, the most damning and inexplicably awful statistic about this Braves lineup is this one: They have hit .181 (32-for-177) with runners in scoring position during the month of September.

Think about that. This is a team that was the league’s second-best with RISP …

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Chipper expects to be back in lineup despite ailing knee

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones acknowledged he’s been playing with lingering soreness in his right knee, and he tweaked it again in the game on Monday, but Jones said he doesn’t plan to let it keep him out of the lineup against the Phillies.

“It’s bugging me,” Jones said. “But you’ve got to go to the post.”

When asked if his knee “bit” him as he hit the third base bag running the bases in the sixth inning, he said: “It bit me all night.”

When he asked if he thought he could play against the Phillies on Tuesday night, Jones said, “probably.”

Jones, 39, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus on July 9. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had been able to rest him here and there through much of July and August, but with a shot at the postseason on the line, Jones has started 18 of the Braves’ past 20 games.

“My right knee has been bugging me for a while,” Jones said before the game. “But I said (at the end of the …

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