Chipper can still deliver; just ask Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – When Chipper Jones made up his mind to retire after the 2012 season, he hoped it would be a big year for the Braves with him contributing plenty to the success.

So far, the future Hall of Famer is getting what he hoped for, albeit with a bit more knee pain and swelling than he’d prefer.

Jones drove in the winning run in a stirring ninth-inning comeback late Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, where the Braves scored three runs on five consecutive singles off Dodgers closer Javy Guerra to pull off a 4-2 win that capped one of their best West Coast trips in years.

“That was a big one, to come in here and take two from those guys,” said Braves reliever Jonny Venters (2-0), who struck out the side in the eighth inning. “They’re playing great — the best in the West. It was exciting.”

The game-winning RBI for Jones came a day after he homered on his 40th birthday in Tuesday’s 4-3 win against the Dodgers, who were previously unbeaten at home.

The Braves finished a 5-2 trip with a flourish and improved to 12-3 since Jones came off the disabled list.

“It’s a testament to our team,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who began the ninth-inning rally with a one-out single. “We keep going from the first through the ninth.”

Catcher Brian McCann said, “That’s what you’ve got to do to beat good teams like this. You’ve got to hang close, then have a big inning. And ours was in the ninth. This was huge, to win two out of three here. This was an amazing road trip.”

The Braves won both night nights in the ninth inning against Guerra, and Jones showed uncharacteristic emotion Wednesday after his ninth-inning hit and Jason Heyward’s subsequent RBI single that pushed the lead to 4-2.

“I was like a schoolkid out there,” Jones said. “That’s what you play the game for.”

Asked where it might rank among his baseball memories, he smiled and said, “That’s way up there. I’ll remember that for a long time. I’ll remember that hit, I’ll remember that inning, I’ll remember the last play of the game. It’s just a storybook. That’s the only way I can describe it.”

It was his last scheduled visit to Dodger Stadium, which Jones called “my Yankee Stadium” while growing up a Dodger-loving kid in Florida. That fandom came from his dad, Larry Sr., whose hometown of Vero Beach, Fla., was the Dodgers’ longtime spring training home.

The Dodgers paid tribute to Jones’ career on the video board and with accompanying message on the stadium P.A. system after the third inning Tuesday. There was respectful applause from fans who had booed him, as usual, when he came to bat in the second inning.

An inning after that tribute Tuesday, he hit a home run for the Braves’ first run. The Braves won the two games that Jones played in Los Angeles, after losing Monday in the game he sat out with pain in his surgically repaired left knee.

After Martin Prado’s two-out ninth-inning triple drove in the winning run Tuesday, the Braves ratcheted up the drama Wednesday with a ninth-inning flurry that shocked the crowd and Guerra, who was fortunate to escape serious injury when struck on the right side of his jaw by McCann’s line-drive hit.

McCann hit a foul ball in a 2010 spring training game that struck Braves minor league manager Luis Salazar in the face, damaging his left eye so extensively that it had to be removed.

When Guerra stayed in the game after being checked by a Dodgers trainer, no one was more relieved than McCann.

“Oh, man, I told a couple of guys he’s my new favorite player,” McCann said. “I mean, it didn’t even faze him. I hit it as hard as I possibly could, and I don’t think it even hit his glove. And for him to get up and pitch … I don’t think too many guys would want to mess with him.”

Dan Uggla was up next and singled to drive in the tying run. Jones’ hit through the right side on an 0-and-2 count put the Braves ahead.

They are 9-2 in games that Jones has played and 3-5  in games he did not, including an 0-4 start when he was on the disabled list recovering from March 26 arthroscopic knee surgery.

He came off the DL for the fifth game at Houston and hit a two-run homer to lead the Braves to their first win – a day after the Astros paid tribute and ex-Houston star Craig Biggio presented Jones with a Stetson cowboy hat at home plate.

“It’s been one highlight after another,” Jones said of the opening weeks of his final season, “and man, I’m savoring each and every one of them. Because you never know when the next one is going to come.”

Since coming off the DL, Jones started nine games and pinch-hit in two others. He rested entirely for four games, including back-to-back games after the flight from Houston when he had to have fluid drained from the knee.

“I think the way they’re using Chip is great,” McCann said. “Give him his rest, because we’ve got guys who can fill in for him. And we need him fresh as many games as possible. I think they’ve done an unbelievable job keeping him fresh for games.”

Jones played the middle two games of the four-game series at Arizona, missing the opener with swelling after the long flight to Phoenix. The Braves hoped that with an off day in the schedule Thursday, even if there was more swelling after the overnight flight from Los Angeles, he might be ready to play Friday’s series opener against Pittsburgh to start a seven-game homestand.

It’s the first of a seven-game homestand that includes four games against the Pirates and three against Philadelphia.

55 comments Add your comment

Richard Nixon

April 26th, 2012
5:12 pm

Crawford

April 26th, 2012
5:14 pm

Welcome Home DOB.

Brave Decisions

April 26th, 2012
5:14 pm

Amazing how Chipper can be super productive still. Too bad Beachy didn’t get the win, that’s all Matt Chernoff seems to care about, still thinks Beachy is a #4 starter.

http://wp.me/2lqJ1 Thanks!

David O'Brien

April 26th, 2012
5:17 pm

Great to be here. Beautiful weather in ATL. Tomorrow, on the bike (motorcycle) to decompress.

ncgary

April 26th, 2012
5:19 pm

when the games in doubt
pull your chipper out

dean

April 26th, 2012
5:23 pm

When a 3-4 west coast trip would have been considered a success by most, 5-2 feels pretty doggone good.

Warefreak

April 26th, 2012
5:28 pm

Beachy is such a talented pitcher. I can’t believe anybody would think he’s #4. He can pitch with anybody in baseball right now.

TennesseePaul

April 26th, 2012
5:35 pm

Awesome post DOB. Thanks.

Paddy

April 26th, 2012
5:36 pm

I don’t listen to Chernoff, did he really say that about Beachy being a #4 starter? He must have been thinking about the ‘27 Yankees!

southern hope

April 26th, 2012
5:36 pm

Welcome home DOB…we missed you & we appreciate your great columns from the road.

phil

April 26th, 2012
5:38 pm

Chernoff is an arrogant know it all….ignore him.

phil

April 26th, 2012
5:39 pm

I didn’t miss you, DOB….

But i’m glad you’re back.

phil

April 26th, 2012
5:40 pm

And be careful on that death trap of a bike…

Skeezix

April 26th, 2012
5:43 pm

The Braves pitching has been awesome. If the offense keeps doing its job, this could be a fun season. Jason so far looks like he’s in for a solid season. He has had some really good at bats. His knock to right field in the 9th is a sign that he is figuring it out.

Skeezix

April 26th, 2012
5:44 pm

oops,meant to say……….. his knock to left field……

Skeezix

April 26th, 2012
5:46 pm

Yeah Dave–be real careful on that bike!

Tampa Gator

April 26th, 2012
5:55 pm

Headline was strange….you didn’t have any quotes from the Dodgers to match it????? But……

Go Braves! Great to take two out of three from the “Dodgees”…….

Mets R Best

April 26th, 2012
6:00 pm

Don’t look back Braves fans because it’s your worse nightmare. The Mighty Mets are gaining on you!

Family Man

April 26th, 2012
6:02 pm

Chipper’s Season is starting to look like 79 season of Willie Stargill. I am not sure if it was his last but I think it was. Have not always been a huge Larry fan but gotta love what we are seeing this year.

Bobby Petrino

April 26th, 2012
6:21 pm

DOB, if you’re thinking about taking a much younger AJC-employed female rider and y’all have a wreck, DON’T LIE ABOUT IT!!! Also, always wear a helmet (or 2 ;)

flange1

April 26th, 2012
6:22 pm

Great story DOB, Thanks!

Crawford

April 26th, 2012
6:34 pm

Been on road 3 days. Time to see whats cookin at house. Good nite. See Yall tomorrow.

Who Me?

April 26th, 2012
6:39 pm

Nice comments there Bobby Petrino LOL….

As Larry goes so go the Braves. The real question is what’s this team going to be like when he’s no longer around to pick us up off the floor?? It’s no coincidence this team responds well to his leadership, the man can hit a ball ANYwhere in the strike zone and sometimes out of it – but where is this team without it’s “BamBam”?

The management on this team will do well to find a role for him next year, even if he doesn’t want to travel. Let him roam the dugout on homestands as a ‘roving instructor’….which must be a great job if you can get it right?

this team needs him.

Joshua

April 26th, 2012
6:43 pm

Chipper’s Season is starting to look like 79 season of Willie Stargill. I am not sure if it was his last but I think it was. Have not always been a huge Larry fan but gotta love what we are seeing this year.

========

Seriously?? This is the same thing we’ve seen from Chipper his entire career. WTF are you talking about?

Ken Stallings

April 26th, 2012
7:23 pm

It was a clash of titans the last three nights and great baseball in quality and excitement. Every run was vital and hard fought.

If the Braves and Dodgers can avoid critical injuries then I don’t think last night was the last game played between these two teams at Chavez Ravine this year.

Ken Stallings

April 26th, 2012
7:29 pm

I really wonder if knee replacement surgery has not reached the point where Chipper could play a few more years if he got new knees? When someone like Don Mattingly says Chipper “still has a very pretty swing,” then you know a set of knees would let that man play longer.

But, alas, medical science may not be that advanced yet. But, Chipper can flat out hit the baseball still.

reckingball

April 26th, 2012
7:43 pm

People that ride motorized 2 wheel vehicles know that the biggest danger is the drivers of 4(or more) wheeled motorized vehicles.
Petrino knows that reach arounds can cause you to crash, too.

Michael G.

April 26th, 2012
7:44 pm

Any chance the Braves will install an ice bath onto their charter flights so Chipper’s knee won’t bother him too much?

Ekim

April 26th, 2012
7:48 pm

Mets R Best
April 26th, 2012
6:00 pm

Don’t look back Braves fans because it’s your worse nightmare. The Mighty Mets are gaining on you!
————————————————————————————————————————————————

Not so. I just looked; Mets are 5-5 in the last ten games, while the Braves are 7-3. I’d say they’ve lost 2 games of late. But you just keep believing, if that makes you feel better.

bobby

April 26th, 2012
7:48 pm

The Chipper haters on here will find out how much he means to the Braves next year.

Ekim

April 26th, 2012
7:49 pm

Chipper haters need to get a life. Away from baseball.

reckingball

April 26th, 2012
7:50 pm

I don’t that they make replacement parts for the knees that would hold up for very long playing MLB. My guess.

reckingball

April 26th, 2012
7:53 pm

Bobby Petrino also now knows, that every once in a while, you can’t lie your way out of every situation..

Mike from the coast

April 26th, 2012
7:55 pm

@Who Me. I agree. Chipper’s presence will be sorely missed. Just the fact he’s in the locker room rooting the younger players on, working hard with Heyward etc. So many fans have bashed him, they don’t have a clue. Hopefully someone like McCann can become that presence, but the changing of the guard is going to be tough. Thanks Chipper for caring and encouraging the younger players. He shows them that being a professional means going out there on bum knees when necessary and giving your all.

J-Man

April 26th, 2012
7:59 pm

My thing about the Braves is they are making adjustments, holding players accountable, and Fredi has showed more fire and the team shows that Fire in the late innings like we did in 2010 leading the MLB in comeback wins. Now the only thing that really needs to be addressed is those crazy Shifts teams place on our hitters especially McCann. Last year he saw those shifts and eventually would start bunting and collecting cheap singles and that forced them to play him honest. I dont think Bonds had shifts on him like this. This is a result of Managers trying to copy Joe Maddon because he has used it for years on David Ortiz. I’m tell ing you if McCann just bunts it over to the 3rd base side he could practically moonwalk his way to an infield single. I mean the 3rd Baseman is playing a deep SS, its rediculous.

Lobosolo

April 26th, 2012
8:12 pm

J-MAN, the shift has been in effect for way, way longer than that…. One of the other bloggers pointed it out a little earlier in explaining the shift…. the pitcher wants to bust the hitter inside when the shift is going on so that he won’t be able to do much with the pitch except pull it…. if the pitcher makes a mistake and leaves the pitch out over the plate too much, or misses outside, then the batter could bunt it or hit it the opposite way, as McCann has done more than a few times when he is being shifted and the pitcher’s location is off… part of that game of millimeters that baseball is…

BravesfaninWis

April 26th, 2012
9:00 pm

Very nice road trip. Minor and Beachy have come a very long way from a year ago, and its nice to see. Two young starting pitchers that could anchor the Braves rotation for many years to come. I will admit, I was a huge basher of them both a year ago, and I will gladly eat some crow if it means that the Braves are playing like we all know they can. Good job Minor and Beachy.

Had it not been for Jurrgens, the Braves could very well have an additional 2 wins or more on the season. I for one am glad that he is in the minors, and hopefully we will rid ourselves of the underachieving Scott Boras client at the end of the season. Keep it going boys, you are looking great so far.

Mike from the coast

April 26th, 2012
9:01 pm

@J-Man. I think we got it. On the last three days worth of blogs you have mentioned the shift and your desire to see McCann take advantage of it. I believe they know that and I think at the appropriate time McCann WILL take advantage ot it. Hey I still like your thinking and loyalty.

Kris

April 26th, 2012
9:09 pm

Chipper did good with clutch hits. But Freeman deserves credit for starting the rally in the 9th. Freeman is our best hitter right now. Fredi needs to put Freeman in the 3 hole instead of Chipper this season.

J-Man

April 26th, 2012
9:20 pm

Ok Mike forom the Coast I’m glad you got it now let me get back about Ranting about Instant Replay ……..Thanks Homie

bruce

April 26th, 2012
10:05 pm

thanks Dave, the quottage last night was awesome

J-Man

April 26th, 2012
10:26 pm

Chipper can deliver………..He has just become an OBGYN…..
Ok that one was lame

Who Me?

April 26th, 2012
11:35 pm

bring on the Bucks, I’ve got my broom out – it’s time for a sweep….

reckingball

April 26th, 2012
11:53 pm

Hasn’t Freeman been hitting 3rd, the last several days?

benchwarmer

April 27th, 2012
12:06 am

Isn’t Chernoff a Philly guy. Just what do you expect from the city of brotherly love. They boo Santa Claus up there.

joker

April 27th, 2012
1:39 am

Hey Phil, why don’t you entertain us all with more stories about how “Wayward” is a bust, and we should trade him? It’s super hilarious how you rhymed his last name with a word that means not on the right path. Like he was wayward, and his name is HEYWARD! Pure genius!

longtimefan

April 27th, 2012
6:35 am

Hey Phil, go back and read some of your posts from the last month or so and let us know how your player assessments are working out. And all the guys who thought third base was going to be a black hole-I’d say Chipper and Francisco are looking pretty good about now.

BravesFan79

April 27th, 2012
8:03 am

I think next year should be his final year, not this one! He announced his reirement 2 early if you ask me, and will regret it at seasons end.

Buddy Landel

April 27th, 2012
8:50 am

Family Man

April 26th, 2012
6:02 pm
Chipper’s Season is starting to look like 79 season of Willie Stargill. I am not sure if it was his last but I think it was. Have not always been a huge Larry fan but gotta love what we are seeing this year.

*****************************
I think I remember having an 83 Fleer Stargell card, so he played at least until ‘82

reckingball

April 27th, 2012
9:37 am

Who is Matt Chernoff? Why should anyone care what he thinks?

NickGranite

April 27th, 2012
10:32 am

The braves are playing well with Chipper in the line-up but you can’t try to quantify Chipper being out as a sort of reason they lost the one game in LA. That was Jurrjen’s start and Chipper’s bat wasn’t going to save that game.

Brave Hokie

April 27th, 2012
10:40 am

The baseball season is miserably long ~ but if the Braves could play anywhere near this well throughout ~ it will be WAY too much fun…

Richham

April 27th, 2012
11:49 am

I don’t think there is any question the guy can still hit with the best of them. His body is breaking down, which happens to us all. Shoot I would rest the guy every 3rd day and pray he can stay healthy for the playoffs.

Salad Shooter

April 27th, 2012
12:22 pm

Chippers got the best job in America! 14 million for playing part time for 4 months.

Ryan

April 27th, 2012
12:46 pm

Has anyone seen comments from JJ himself since the demotion?

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