Archive for June, 2012

Braves beat the heat, and Nationals’ Strasburg

The Braves know one way to get Stephen Strasburg now. Draw him into town on the hottest day on record in Atlanta history and ambush him.

The Nationals ace lasted only three innings in the triple-digit heat Saturday afternoon, leaving the game pale and dizzy. By then the Braves had worked ahead of him with a three-run inning on their way to a 7-5 win.

The Braves won for the first time three games against Strasburg this season, and they’ll take it any way they can get it. Trying to hold steady until the All-Star break, they won for the first time in the past eight starts with either Mike Minor or Randall Delgado pitching, and only the second time in seven meetings with the Nationals this season.

“They’ve got great pitching, a great lineup, but so do we,” said Dan Uggla, who put the Braves ahead of Strasburg 3-2 with an RBI double in the third inning. “And it’s time we turned the corner with what’s been going on against them.”

The Braves scored a season-high seven runs on …

Continue reading Braves beat the heat, and Nationals’ Strasburg »

Braves quotes after Saturday’s win over Nationals

FREDI GONZALEZ

On Minor:

“Under tough conditions, I think we took a step forward with him today. He competed his butt off today and gave everything he had. Today 80 something pitches might equal about 140, the way the weather was. I thought for his psyche and his confidence, I felt like we took a step forward with him today.”

On the middle innings:

“He was a bulldog today. He didn’t give it up. Good for him. Now we go on to his next start, hopefully we can build on that from today’s start.”

On using the heat as the home-field advantage:

“I don’t know if anybody had the advantage today but we play here, and I know it gets hot in DC also. This is our field. We’re used to these conditions, maybe not as extreme, but it shouldn’t be a problem for us.”

On Heyward in third spot:

“We came in this morning and I thought the first four hitters were our best hitters, or the guys that were the hottest today. So we put them put there four in a row, Bourny, Prado, and Heyward and Freeman. …

Continue reading Braves quotes after Saturday’s win over Nationals »

Outfield assists piling up for Heyward

When Jason Heyward gunned down Rick Ankiel at second base Friday night it was his career-high sixth outfield assist of the season and his third in nine games. He nailed Jason Kubel at the plate to save Jair Jurrjens a run on Thursday night, and nabbed Mark Teixeira at home to save Tim Hudson a run at Yankee Stadium on June 19.

Heyward’s previous career-high was five assists during his standout 2010 rookie season.

“It’s something that’s been a part of my game and I want to try to keep improving on it at this level,” Heyward said. “I’m just trying to grow in the game and keep helping out the pitchers.”

Continue reading Outfield assists piling up for Heyward »

Moylan scoreless in first rehab game action since surgery

Braves veteran reliever Peter Moylan took an important step in his recovery from right shoulder surgery on Saturday morning, pitching an inning for the Gulf Coast League Braves.

He recorded one strikeout, coaxed two groundouts and needed only seven pitches to get through a scoreless inning in his first game action since October surgery. His fastball was clocked at 89-90 mph.

Moylan likely won’t be at full strength until the end of July at the earliest, but if he keeps progressing, he could be an arm the Braves turn to for the stretch run.

“We’ve got to just wait and see how the progression goes before we get ready to pencil him in anywhere,” Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno said.

“We’ve just got to be patient with it because it’s going to take some time. But the main thing is he feels great.”

Moylan has undergone three major surgeries in the past five years, including elbow ligament transplant surgery in 2008. He missed most of last season after surgery for a …

Continue reading Moylan scoreless in first rehab game action since surgery »

All-Star streak likely to end for struggling McCann

For the first time in his major league career, Brian McCann is not likely to hear his name called when All-Star selections are announced on Sunday at 1 p.m. on TBS.

The first player in Braves franchise history to make the All-Star game in his first six full seasons is underperforming this season, hitting .230 entering Saturday’s game. Meanwhile Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies is having a career year, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is coming into his own offensively and San Francisco Giant Buster Posey is right back where he left off before his ankle injury.

Among the Braves expected to be selected are second baseman Dan Uggla, who was leading in the latest vote tally by 770,395 over Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and closer Craig Kimbrel, who is leading the National League with 22 saves. All three Braves starting outfielders should be in the mix for spots as reserves: Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. Chipper Jones could also be a sentimental pick by manager …

Continue reading All-Star streak likely to end for struggling McCann »

Braves quotes after Friday’s loss to Nationals

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On coming back after rough start

“A lot of spirit and Simmons hitting that home run tied the ball game and they got a quick strike with their home run. You still feel pretty good, first and second there and some guys at the plate. It seemed like that was all night. We had some people on….We had Detwiler on the ropes a few times and couldn’t punch him through until late in the game when Simmons hit the home run and we got four runs in that inning.”

On Delgado

“Delgado didn’t pitch particularly well but I thought that third inning he goes out after laboring through the first couple innings with a high pitch count. He gets out the first two guys, quick outs, and then we didn’t help him much after that. we made some mistakes behind him and got his pitch count up to 90 pitches for four innings. The good thing is we battled back and made it a hell of a game. And I think it’s going to be this way against these guys for the next 12, 13 games that we play them.”

On …

Continue reading Braves quotes after Friday’s loss to Nationals »

Braves come from way back in 7th, but lose to Nats in 8th

Until the seventh inning Friday, it seemed as if wasted scoring chances, slopping fielding and another early exit for starter Randall Delgado would all be part of the autopsy of the latest Braves loss to the nemesis Washington Nationals.

Things changed quickly in that seventh for the Braves and rookie Andrelton Simmons, who got redemption with a game-tying two-run homer that capped a four-run inning and erased the Nationals’ 4-0 lead.

But the momentum shift was quashed quickly when Michael Morse led off the eighth with a first-pitch homer off Braves reliever Chad Durbin, sending the Nationals toward a 5-4 win in the series opener at Turner Field.

“You want the games like this, because you want emotional games,” said Simmons, who flied out with two on to end the game. “You want to battle, and after you win you feel good about yourself, like you accomplished something. But after battling that much and losing, it hurts.”

Morse went 4-for-4 and scored three runs as the Nationals …

Continue reading Braves come from way back in 7th, but lose to Nats in 8th »

Wilson gets first start in a month

Backup shortstop Jack Wilson had not started a game since Andrelton Simmons was called up on May 30, but he finally got his chance when Fredi Gonzalez put him at second base Friday night for struggling Dan Uggla.

Wilson was hitting 4-for-5 against Nationals starter Ross Detwiler, a fact he’d been reminding his manager about for a few days now.

“It’s been a while,” said Wilson, with a smile when asked about being in Gonzalez’s ear. “It’s been 30 days. That’s a long stretch. It’s one of those things that you know what your role is and you prepare every day.”

Wilson last played second base as a defensive replacement for Uggla in the last two innings against Toronto on June 10. Before that it was spring training.

“It’s just nice not to have to work at third,” said Wilson, who never got comfortable in four games there last year, including one with Seattle. He’s played 45 games at second base.

“It’s been a month and we’re going to need him,” Gonzalez said. “You don’t want to give …

Continue reading Wilson gets first start in a month »

Prado out of lineup, nursing sore hamstring

Martin Prado was another noticeable absence from the Braves lineup on Friday night. Manager Fredi Gonzalez revealed Prado has been playing with a sore hamstring and he wanted to sit him a game to rest it.

He said he noticed Prado favoring it quite a bit on Thursday night in left field and running the bases.

“He’s trying to manage it,” Gonzalez said. “But these guys are athletes and all of a sudden they want to go an extra step and get really, really bad.”

Gonzalez is hoping that by giving Prado a day off here and there until the All-Star break and resting for four days off over the break, he can avoid a stint on the disabled list.

Gonzalez moved Jason Heyward into the third spot in Prado’s absence, where Heyward was hitting for the third time this season. He moved rookie Andrelton Simmons to the second spot for the first time. Simmons played his first 23 games in the majors in the bottom third of the order.

“Use (his) speed and sandwich him between (left-handers Michael) …

Continue reading Prado out of lineup, nursing sore hamstring »

Gonzalez sits struggling Uggla

Braves second baseman Dan Uggla didn’t like it much, but he didn’t argue either, when manager Fredi Gonzalez gave him his first day out of the lineup of the 2012 season Friday night against the Nationals.

Uggla has been in a three-week slide at the plate, hitting only .108 (7-for-65) in his past 20 games, and wasn’t too surprised when Gonzalez sent him a text message Friday morning letting him know he wouldn’t be in the lineup. Of course, Uggla didn’t respond to it either.

“Give him a day, and just let him just relax, enjoy baseball again a little bit,” said Gonzalez, who said Uggla would be available off the bench. “It’s something that we need to do as managers. He doesn’t want it. He’ll fight you tooth and nail for it, but I outrank him. I don’t outrank too many people, but I outrank him.”

When asked later if getting a mental breather could be a good thing, Uggla said, “No it’s terrible, for the fact that (because of) the performance I’ve been putting out there he doesn’t …

Continue reading Gonzalez sits struggling Uggla »