(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
St. Louis – Well, first off Happy Mother’s Day to everybody. Hope it’s a special day for all those moms who give so much of themselves to make life meaningful and fulfilling and a heck of a lot easier for the rest of us.
I know I was born to the sweetest Mom on the planet, and I hope she is having a great day back in Charlotte, N.C.
The Braves will be breaking out the pink bats, and yes a couple of pairs of pink spikes today for the occasion. Freddie Freeman is planning to wear them today, since he used them for a three-hit day last Mother’s Day in Philadelphia, including a home run off Cole Hamels, to help the Braves to a 5-2 win.
It’s always a meaningful day for Freeman, who lost his mother Rosemary to melanoma when he was 10 years old.
Fredi Gonzalez is planning to wear his pink spikes too. He said Chipper Jones came up to him last year when he wore them and goes “Ya think Bobby Cox would have worn those?”
But Gonzalez can take the kidding, so long as they “work.” And the Braves won that game last year at Citizens Bank Park, so I’m thinking he wears them again too.
The Braves could think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than with a sweep over the Cardinals. They’re going for their first sweep at Busch Stadium since Sept. 11-13, 2009.
It’s been a pretty impressive two nights the Braves have spent at Busch Stadium, scoring 16 runs in the first two games and doing just enough to hold off a dangerous Cardinals lineup.
The Braves have scored 10 runs (nine earned) in 10 innings in the first two games of this series against Cardinals starters Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright. The runs don’t figure to come quite so easily today against St. Louis’ new young stud, Lance Lynn, who was moved into the rotation while Chris Carpenter rebuilds his arm strength as he rehabs from a nerve problem in his shoulder.
Let’s just say Lynn has carried his share of the load. He’s won his first six starts of the year, while putting up a 1.40 ERA – third-best among qualified starters in the National League. He’s allowed one or no runs in five of his first six starts and two in the other. That’s a whopping six earned runs altogether, in 38 2/3 innings.
The 6-foot-5 right-hander from Ole Miss, who turned 25 on Saturday, has faced only Michael Bourn (1-for-3 with one strikeout) and Matt Diaz (0-for-1) among Braves hitters.
He’ll be pitching against Tommy Hanson, who gave up two solo home runs on back-to-back pitches and nothing else in six innings of his last start in Chicago, when he fell 5-1 to Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs. The good news is that Carlos Beltran is 0-for-10 against Hanson, and Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Yadier Molina are a combined 0-for-9 against him.
Buzz about Hamilton
The Braves are fans of the game too, which means they’ve been abuzz just like everybody else about the week Josh Hamilton has had for the Texas Rangers. Nine home runs in six games, including a four-homer game Tuesday, to give him 18 on the year will do that.
“He needs to be playing on that same planet Barry (Bonds) was playing on a few years back,” Chipper said. “He needs to be called up to a higher league. He’s playing on a different level than the rest of us. Enjoy it because every so often you get one of these freaks of nature who are able to ascend to places nobody else can. I saw where he was ahead of Barry’s pace of 73 (homers in 2001). While I don’t think he’ll hit 73, nothing that guy does surprises me because he is a freak. No other way to explain.”
Jones just laughed when I asked if he felt something like that in 1999 when his four-homer series against the Mets all but won the Braves the division and him the Most Valuable Player award.
“He’s got nine this week!” Jones said. “Don’t even put me in the same category. I hit 45 in a year. He’s going to be damn near there by the All-Star break….I can’t even fathom nine homers in a week and 18 homers in my first 108 or 109 plate appearances. That’s otherworldly.”
Braves backup catcher David Ross played with Hamilton for one season in Cincinnati in 2007, when Hamilton broke into the majors after nearly four years out of baseball battling drug and alcohol addiction and before he got traded to the Rangers.
“When he was on the field, he was a big, big force to be reckoned with,” Ross said. “And he hadn’t played baseball in however long it was, so you knew he was going to be good. You just didn’t know if he could sustain without injuries…(But) I’ll take 100 games from him and give him 60 games off the way he’s been playing. When he’s in there, he’s the best in the game.”
Ross said Hamilton showed his penchant for power in batting practice in Cincinnati when he used to take aim at the two-story Riverboat deck beyond center field at Great American Ballpark.
“In bp, he was peppering that boat in center field like it was nothing,” Ross said. “Seriously, he would hit six, seven, eight up there, a bp round. It’s 450 feet easy up there.”
Cutting up with Cubs fans
Heard a funny story from Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen yesterday when I was asking them about what it was like having Livan Hernandez down in the bullpen now. By all accounts it’s been great. He’s been not only a veteran presence down there, but a lot of fun. You know how the bullpen in Wrigley Field is right there along the right field line and the relievers are seated on a bench right in front of the fans?
Apparently when the Braves were there earlier this week, Hernandez convinced one particular young male (and possibly over-served) Cubs fan to stand up and cheer “Go Braves,” in the middle of the Cubs faithful and to raise his arms to try to get others to join in. The guy wanted a ball, and apparently was willing to do just about anything to get it. Hernandez did give him the ball, so he had that going for him.
Scheduled off day for Chipper and Brian McCann. Gonzalez said after the game Saturday night, Chipper would probably get the day off Sunday. Not only is it a day game after a night game, but the Braves are just beginning a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. No it’s nothing serious from last night or with his surgically-repaired left knee. Lance Berkman was activated from the DL for the Cardinals and is batting fifth today.
1. Michael Bourn CF
2. Martin Prado LF
3. Freddie Freeman 1B
4. Dan Uggla 2B
5. Jason Heyward Rf
6. Juan Francisco 3B
7. David Ross C
8. Tyler Pastornicky SS
9. Tommy Hanson P