Archive for July, 2012

Braves win streak at 7, Medlen wins 1st start since ‘10

Almost two years since he last started a major league game, Kris Medlen pitched like he wanted to stay there.

The Braves right-hander allowed one run and four hits in five innings of a 7-1, rain-delayed win against the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at Turner Field, extending Atlanta’s winning streak to seven games. The Braves have won 14 of the past 15 games started by Medlen, who had 14 starts in 2010.

“He gave us everything we wanted him to,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Medlen, who made his first start of the season after 38 relief appearances. “He was trying to talk us into going one more inning, but no chance. He goes back (to start) on Sunday, and we’ll add another 20-25 pitches to his outing and hopefully get us deeper in the ballgame.”

Juan Francisco had three hits and Brian McCann and Tyler Pastornicky homered for the Braves, who got their 17th win in 22 games to move to a season-high 15 over .500.

But the story Tuesday was Medlen, who will stay in …

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Newly-acquired Johnson experiences first trade

When the Chicago Cubs pulled Reed Johnson in the middle of the fifth inning Monday night, on the eve of the trade deadline, just as he was about to take the plate for the second time in a big offensive inning, everybody knew he’d been traded.

What nobody in the stands, national TV audience, or Twitter universe, nor even Johnson, knew was where.

After 10 years in the major leagues, the 35-year-old reserve outfielder felt what it was like to be traded for the first time in his career. He gave his teammates hugs and handshakes in the dugout but didn’t find out where he was going until general manager Jed Hoyer met him in the clubhouse. It was Atlanta.

“Just excitement to come to this organization,” said Johnson, explaining his emotions while standing in front of a new locker in Atlanta about 17 hours later. “…I know they’ve got a good group of guys, and it’s exciting to come over to a group like that that’s not only a good group of guys but a good group of guys …

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Thumbs up: Braves react to trade for Maholm, Johnson

BRIAN McCANN

“It gives us depth in both places that we’ve needed. It gives us a pitcher [Paul Maholm] who we’ve seen him first-hand dominate a game. I think his last month and a half he’s been the best in baseball. We’re lucky to have both guys on this team, and we’re excited about moving forward.

“[Reed Johnson] is going to fit it here so good. Loves to play the game of baseball, gives us that right-handed presence off the bench, can play against lefies for a spot start. He’s a high-average guy, high energy, Gold Glove-caliber outfielder… It’s a good fit.”

“These last eight weeks of the season are going to be huge, and getting both of these guys in one trade was very important.”

TIM HUDSON

“I think it’s a definite upgrade for us in both areas. I think [Maholm] is going to help us out. I think he’s the best pitcher in the National League. Hell, he beat me 1-0. He’s having a heck of a year. He’s under contract next for a pretty good salary …

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Braves put Hanson on DL with lower back strain – updated

The Braves placed Tommy Hanson on the disabled list with a strain in his lower back on Tuesday but don’t believe it’s a serious injury or one that will keep him out longer than 15 days.

They will keep Kris Medlen in the rotation in the meantime. He’ll make his second start Sunday against the Astros.

Hanson said he first started having problems with his back over the All-Star break but after taking a dose pack of anti-inflammatories, it subsided. But it flared up again during the third inning of his start Monday night against the Marlins, and he can’t take another dose pack again so soon.

“I think we might have just came back too quick,” said Hanson, who said by Tuesday it was already feeling better. “I don’t think it’s going to be something that’s going to take a while. I just need to let it chill out and it should be fine.”

The Braves initially thought they would either skip Hanson once in the rotation or give him a few extra days between starts but …

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Braves’ trade for Maholm and Johnson was strong

For those who’ve asked – and even those who haven’t – I like Monday’s trade for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson. A lot. And here’s why.

While I was first in line among those who thought a trade for Ryan Dempster would’ve really helped the Braves by giving them a proven front-line veteran pitcher who happens to be pitching as well or better than he has in his entire career, being snubbed last week by Dempster proved to be the impetus for the Braves to move on to what turns out to be a better deal for them.

I said that not only because they ended up not parting with a solid starting-pitcher prospect – Randall Delgado – in a trade for a rental player they’d probably only have for two months, but also because the Braves got both a quality left-handed starter in Maholm, and a veteran outfielder/pinch-hitter who doesn’t have the marquee appeal of some other players traded this week, but who perfectly fills a Braves need.

Chicago-Cubs-Paul-Maholm-praised-for-his-excellent-game-against-Pittsburgh-Pirates-MLB-News-174569

Newest Braves starter Paul Maholm is under …

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Frank Wren quotes on trade; Braves postgame quotes

FRANK WREN

On satisfying multiple needs:

“We were looking for a quality starter that could give us the kind of production that we needed up and down the rotation. What we’ve got from Ben Sheets has been tremendous and now adding a guy like Paul Maholm who’s been so consistent. Really after the first two starts of the season he’s 9-4 with a 3.04 (ERA). He’s done very well, not just a short time span, really since the middle of April. And having control of him for next year as well, with a club option, and then getting really the No. 1 guy on our board as a utility player/pinch hitter. He does all those things really at the top of the league. And to be able to play center and left and he’s hitting over .400 as a pinch hitter which we sorely need and he gives us a chance to rest Michael Bourn, gives us a chance to rest Martin Prado. He’s still going to produce and play good defense.”

On if wanted Reed last year too:

“We did. He’s been a guy that’s been on …

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Braves trade for Cubs’ Maholm and Reed Johnson

There will be no major league postseason team coming out of Chicago’s North Side this year, but the Braves looked to Wrigley Field to find a couple of missing pieces to bolster their own playoff aspirations.

The Braves filled their two biggest needs with one trade late Monday, getting left-hander Paul Maholm and veteran outfielder/pinch-hitter Reed Johnson from the Cubs in exchange for a pair of minor league pitchers, highly regarded prospect Arodys Vizcaino and right-hander Jaye Chapman.

“It was a perfect fit for us. Let’s just put it that way,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said after midnight, nearly 14 hours before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

“We got two real key pieces for us that we were looking for. If nothing else materializes tomorrow, we’ll be very happy with where we are right now and think our club is positioned well. And obviously we’ll keep watching once we get into the waiver period, but we feel like it positions us well.”

The Braves …

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Braves pull up pants and end long Monday skid

Whether it was wearing their pant legs rolled up to their knees, having Chipper Jones on Twitter, or Tommy Hanson taking his recent serendipity to the mound, the Braves finally ended their Monday curse.

After totaling just 18 runs while losing their first 12 Monday games this season, the Braves scored six in the first five innings of an 8-2 win against the Miami Marlins to open a four-game series Monday night at Turner Field.

It was the sixth consecutive win for the surging Braves, but their first Monday win since Aug. 22, 2011. They snapped an inexplicable streak of 16 consecutive Monday losses that included four during their September collapse.

“I think it was eight runs and 13 hits,” Jones said, laughing when asked whether it was the exposed socks or his Twitter status that was the curse-breaker. “For whatever reason we leave the bats at home on Mondays and I think everybody was a little tired of hearing about it so we played well tonight.”

Jason Heyward’s …

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Hudson holding his own at the plate

Tim Hudson got off to a late start this season coming off back surgery, but he’s been making up ground – with his bat. With four hits in his past seven at-bats, the affable Braves starter finally passed Randall Delgado in hits (seven) and he’s one shy now of injured Brandon Beachy for the staff lead in RBIs with three.

“Just wait ‘til I hit my homer,” Hudson assured his lockermate Beachy on Monday afternoon.

Hudson has a lot of fun with his hitting. He joked that when he got to first base Sunday after his single off the Phillies’ Roy Halladay, he was telling first baseman Ryan Howard a little about how it’s done. “You’ve got to stay inside the ball…,” he said.

But Hudson does take his hitting seriously, as he says all of the Braves pitchers do. He said he and Kris Medlen like to go into the batting cages and take flips.

“Even if it’s just making the opposing pitcher throw five more pitches in a game,” he said.

Hudson is well off the Silver Slugger …

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Medlen excited for first start in two years – updated

Kris Medlen will make his first start Tuesday for the Braves in almost two years. He hasn’t started since Aug. 4, 2010 against the Mets, when he walked off the mound in the middle of the fifth inning with an ailing right elbow.

After a year away recovering from ligament transplant surgery and the first four months of this season pitching in the bullpen, Medlen returns to a role in which he’s proven he can excel. He went 5-0 with a 3.86 in 14 starts in 2010. The Braves won 13 of those starts.

“I’m excited,” Medlen said Monday afternoon. “I finally get my opportunity again. I think I made the most of it the first time around.”

Medlen got his chance in 2010 when Jair Jurrjens went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. This time he’s replacing Jurrjens because of his struggles on the mound. The Braves lost Jurrjens’ past two starts by a combined score of 18-2, while Jurrjens gave up 14 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings,

This change is likely for one night, …

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