Archive for May, 2012

Next for Braves: Washington Nationals

Series preview: at Nationals

When (TV): 7:05 p.m. Friday (WPCH); 4:05 p.m. Saturday (WPCH); 1:35 p.m. Sunday (FSSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Friday: Braves LH Mike Minor (2-4, 6.98 ERA) vs. RH Stephen Strasburg (5-1, 2.64)

Saturday: Braves RH Brandon Beachy (5-3, 1.77) vs. LH Gio Gonzalez (7-1, 2.04)

Sunday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (5-4, 3.84) vs. RH Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.80)

About the Braves:

Batting: Freddie Freeman went 3-for-5 with a home run and a double in his first game back with new sport glasses on Wednesday. Jose Constanza is 4-for-7 in two games since being called up from Triple-A. Brian McCann went 1-for-12 in the Braves last homestand until going 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs against the Cardinals on Wednesday.

Pitching: Minor is winless in his past seven starts, going 0-3 with a 9.08 ERA, while allowing 13 home runs in 37 2/3 innings. Minor gave up a three-run home run to Danny Espinosa in the second inning last Saturday …

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Video: Freeman, McCann lead Braves past Cardinals

Wearing his new sports glasses, Freddie Freeman went 3-for-5 with three RBIs in his return to the lineup Wednesday and helped lead the Braves to a 10-7 win against St. Louis, their second in a row since an eight-game losing skid. the AJC’s David O’Brien reports.

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Braves quotes after Wednesday’s win over Cardinals

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On Freeman’s return

“He swung the bat just like before all the eye issues. That’s nice to see and just right on time because today was an offensive day. I thought the whole series was weird – balls going through the infield, up the middle and we got out in front, then came back and tied it, kept battling, they came back. we put a big number there in the bottom of the eighth inning to give us a cushion. It was a shame we couldn’t get Huddy a win, but I like the way the guys battled and really looked like the offensive team that we were the first month and a half, or almost two months of the season.”

On Hudson’s start

“He had the sinker going, and some of the groundballs – I think Holliday hit I don’t know how many up the middle in this series, just not hit very hard. And Molina was hot as a pistol and he kept coming up. We won a series after losing eight in a row, and now we’ve got a day off tomorrow, get on a plane, try to keep winning …

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Pastornicky sent to Triple-A; Simmons coming to majors

The Braves’ future at shortstop is now.

The team called defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons from Double-A Mississippi to replace rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky, who was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after Wednesday night’s win against St. Louis.

Simmons, 22, will make his major league debut with a start in Friday’s series opener at Washington.

Pastornicky hit .248 with eight extra-base hits (one homer), a .281 on-base percentage and two stolen bases in 44 games for the Braves. He slumped recently and had seven errors and the lowest fielding percentage among major league shortstops.

“We needed more,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said of Pastornicky’s defense.

Simmons, who is in his first full season of pro ball, hit .292 with 14 extra-base hits (three home runs), a .372 OBP and 10 stolen bases in 43 games at Mississippi before Wednesday. A second-round pick in the 2010 draft, the Curacao native wowed Braves players and coaches with his spectacular defense as a …

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Freeman, McCann lead Braves past Cardinals 10-7

When the Braves jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning Wednesday on the strength of home runs from Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman, they had to feel good about their chances with Tim Hudson pitching.

After all, Hudson had a 126-3 career record (and 24 no-decisions) when given a lead of three runs.

Make that 25 no-decisions now for Hudson, but a win for the Braves, who got a combined five hits and seven RBIs from McCann and Freeman and scored five runs in their last three innings for a 10-7 win at  Turner Field to end a difficult homestand on a positive note.

After the Cardinals rallied from a 5-0 deficit to tie the score in the sixth inning, the Braves scored three in the sixth and two more in the eighth for their second win in a row after an eight-game losing streak.

“It puts us back on track,” said McCann, who had a two-run homer in the first inning and two-run single in the sixth. “We had a little skid there. The good sign for us is putting up runs. That’s …

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Venters got rare work in the seventh; Uggla’s a walking machine

Jonny Venters found himself in unfamiliar territory Tuesday night when he was called on to pitch the seventh inning with a lead, followed by Eric O’Flaherty in the eighth, as opposed to the other way around.

It was the first time this season Venters pitched before the eighth inning when the Braves were leading.

The way he’s struggled this month – going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA and three home runs allowed – Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is trying to find a way to ease some pressure on Venters, or at least mix things up, while Venters tries to regain the consistent feel on his sinker.

“You do that with your hitters, move them from one spot to the other,” Gonzalez said. “Whatever it takes to get them going a little bit.”

Venters has seen some progress with the number of ground balls he’s getting, but he is still trying to see adjustments he’s making in the bullpen translate onto the field.

“I need to get out there and pitch – whether it’s down two, up two, 7-6, …

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Braves plan to keep extra position player through weekend

The Braves plan to keep an extra position player on their roster through the weekend series in Washington, something off days Thursday and Monday will allow them to do. They called up outfielder Jose Constanza on Wednesday when they optioned Kris Medlen to Triple-A Gwinnett to stretch out as a starter and he started the last two games of the Cardinals series.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he can use Randall Delgado out of the bullpen if need be over the weekend and if he does, Delgado could skip his next start on Tuesday.

Tim Hudson could come back on regular rest in Tuesday’s series-opener in Miami.

Another possibility is that the Braves could add a pitcher to the roster over the weekend if catcher David Ross shows he’s ready to return from his strained right groin. (They could option J.C. Boscan back to Triple-A.) Ross started taking batting practice on Tuesday and caught a bullpen on Tuesday night, but he still can’t run pain-free.

Medlen is scheduled to make his …

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Goggles a go, Freeman returns to Braves lineup

Freddie Freeman didn’t wait until he had changed into his uniform to try out his new sport goggles that arrived at Turner Field Wednesday morning. He opened the box, grabbed assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher, and went into the indoor batting cage in his shorts and collared shirt to see if he finally had a solution to the vision problems that have been ailing him for more than three weeks.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, general manager Frank Wren and assistant general manager Bruce Manno all got the answer shortly thereafter.

“I hear this commotion coming down the hallway,” Gonzalez said. “It was him in street clothes with his goggles on. He had just come out of the batting cage.”

Freeman offered high-fives to Gonzalez, Wren and Manno, changed into his batting practice attire and got the same results on the field, so he was back in the lineup Wednesday night for the first time in five days.

“I had no problems, not even with the first or second pitch, or even …

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Skid over, but now important work begins for Braves

Not much time to crank out a blog today, so here are a few observations and facts while thinking how good the Braves must feel knowing they just endured an eight-game losing skid, and have hit just .183 with 29 runs in their past 11 games, yet are still just three games out of first place in the toughest division in the National League and one of the two toughest in the majors.

Home runs by Bourn and Uggla (right) fueled the 5-4 win Tuesday that snapped Braves' eight-game losing skid.

Home runs by Bourn and Uggla (right) fueled the 5-4 win Tuesday that snapped Braves' eight-game losing skid.

Yes, every team in the NL East has a record above .500 right now, with the Phillies bringing up the rear at 26-25. The Braves are 27-24, three games behind division leader Washington (29-20) and with three games awaiting against the Nationals this weekend in D.C. Three games against the team that just swept them in three at Atlanta.

It goes without saying, there may never be a better time for the Braves to show they can beat a tough division opponent, especially without Chipper Jones in the …

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Braves quotes after streak-busting win over Cards

FREDI GONZALEZ

On Uggla

“If you look at the past six, seven games, he’s walked. He’s been patient. They haven’t pitched to him much and today, they got in a situation where they pitch to him. That was a big blow right there. Bourny leading off the game with a home run. We played good baseball today. We didn’t break. We bent a little bit but we didn’t break. I thought Delgado was very good, other than the growing pains of (not getting) shutdown innings. We had two opportunities and didn’t get that done, but that’s a growing pain thing. He did a nice job.”

On Constanza’s run/speed being difference in the game (scored Braves’ 5th run)

“He lead off (two) of the at-bats. We’ll chalk it up that it worked today, hitting the pitcher eighth. It’s one of those things it’s nice for him to bring a little energy. He did that last year for us and he’s a good defender, he can run and puts the ball in play.”

On if we can expect Venters in front of O’Flaherty …

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