Archive for July 21st, 2012

Braves lose shot at first place in doubleheader split – updated

Washington – From 3 ½ games back in the standings, and nine runs down against Stephen Strasburg Friday night, the Braves came within striking distance of first place in the National League East.

They led the Nationals for 13 innings of a day-night doubleheader Saturday and stood just 12 outs from a sweep which would have brought them within one-half game of the lead heading into Sunday’s series finale.

But the Nationals chipped away at Randall Delgado and a depleted Braves bullpen, and the Braves offense shut down after the third inning in a sloppy end to a long rain-soaked day. The Nationals split the doubleheader split with a 5-2 win in the nightcap after the Braves had won the afternoon game 4-0 on the strength of six more shutout innings from Ben Sheets.

“We got off to the start we wanted to in the second game and just stopped,” said Chipper Jones, who surpassed 1,600 career RBIs with a pinch-hit two-run homer in the first game and an RBI double in the second. “About the …

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Braves postgame quotes DH split – updated

QUOTES AFTER GAME 2

CHIPPER JONES

On the split:

“We played well today, got off to the start we wanted to in the second game and just stopped. For whatever reason after about the first or second inning we stopped swinging the bats and we didn’t pitch real well the last four innings of the game. Walks and wild pitches and you give teams easy runs without earning them it’s going to come back to haunt you. Just kind of fell apart there on the mound the last couple innings.”

On luck evening out:

“There was some unlucky stuff. They got breaks the second game, ball off the bag, ball up the middle, but bottom line I thought we could have gotten out of that fifth when they scored their first run. Made a terrible pitch, wild pitch. Like I said last night whenever knock the seal off a shutout sometimes the floodgates open. It happened in the first order tonight.”

On Lannan being tough again:

“Well we’re left-handed, you know? Couple of our right-handed sticks are struggling a little bit …

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Braves among many in pursuit of pitching

Washington – Ten days from the trade deadline, the Braves are still pursuing starting pitching help and remain in the mix for Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster. They are keeping an eye on Brewers ace Zack Grienke as well, though a potential trade there could take longer to develop.

Greinke skipped a turn to “recharge his batteries” and won’t pitch again until Tuesday against the Phillies. Also, he is reportedly mulling the offer of a $100 million contract extension from the Brewers, who would prefer to resign him rather than trade him.

The Braves are one of maybe a dozen teams in pursuit of the same thing – starting pitching. That’s one reason why the Braves recently put feelers out for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, who makes his home in Sharpsburg, Ga., even though the Red Sox don’t appear prepared to trade him.

“Pitching is at a premium,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said Saturday. “It’s hard to get pitching and there are limited guys. There are a lot of guys bandied …

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Hanson struggling with command since break

Washington - Tommy Hanson is struggling for a second straight year coming out of the All-Star break. But giving up eight runs in four innings to the Nationals Friday night had nothing to do with his shoulder like it did last year, Hanson said. It’s his command.

“Nothing is bothering me,” Hanson said. “I feel great. I just think it’s been a problem with my command, and I think the All-Star break kind of got me a little bit out of whack. I’ll get back in a groove.”

Hanson gave up four walks on Friday night in the Braves’ 11-10 comeback win, all four after he’d recorded two outs. Two of those runners came around to score on three-run home runs off by Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.

Hanson has given up a career-high 19 home runs in his 20 starts this season.

“A lot of them, I’m trying to be aggressive,” Hanson said. “If nobody is on base I want you to put it in play. I’m just trying to be a lot more aggressive and not walk guys. But as soon as guys get on then sometimes I start …

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Braves activate Venters from DL

Washington - Jonny Venters returned from the disabled list after only one of two scheduled minor league rehabilitation outings for Gwinnett to give the Braves another arm for their doubleheader against the Nationals Saturday.

The Braves had originally planned for him to pitch again Sunday in Gwinnett, but activated him and brought him to Washington after just one inning Friday, a six-pitch perfect inning. He took Matt Diaz’s roster spot, who was placed on the DL Saturday with a thumb injury.

Venters was eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, where he’s been since July 5 with an elbow impingement. Venters had been pleased with his side work, both with how his elbow felt and the progress he’s made getting back to the basics with his mechanics.

Venters has struggled this season with a 4.45 ERA with six home runs allowed in 32 1/3 innings. But the Braves needed him Saturday with both Eric O’Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel coming off three straight games in a row.

“With the …

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Braves disable Diaz with recurring thumb injury

Washington – Two years after undergoing surgery on his right thumb, Matt Diaz has had a similar problem crop up again. The Braves placed Diaz on the 15-day disabled list Saturday and activated reliever Jonny Venters from the disabled list, in the hopes that rest will allow Diaz to avoid surgery again.

But an MRI taken Monday revealed two foreign bodies in his thumb – which could be similar to fragments of a palm frond he had removed in 2010. Diaz said they will have to be surgically removed at some point, but he and the Braves are hoping to put off surgery until after the season.

“If we can get it calmed down and the infection down, I might be able to finish out the year,” said Diaz, who has been treated with topical anti-inflammatories and a course of antibiotics.

If Diaz were to need surgery now, he’d miss two months and likely the rest of the season.

“That’ll probably be last-case scenario,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. That’s a …

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Braves beat Nats on comeback for the ages

Washington – The weekend was already supposed to be wild – with four games in three days against the first-place Nationals – but then Friday night happened.

The Braves trailed by nine runs through five innings against Stephen Strasburg, but came back to take the lead in the ninth inning. They’d managed only one hit in their first 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but watched Chipper Jones make history with a two-run single to become the all-time RBI leader by third basemen.

They rallied for two runs against the Nationals’ struggling closer Tyler Clippard, only to watch their closer Craig Kimbrel snap a streak of 20 straight saves by giving up a home run to Danny Espinosa.

And still, the Braves won 11-10 on an RBI bloop single by light-hitting shortstop Paul Janish in the 11th inning, creating the kind of memory they haven’t made since a seven-run comeback against Baltimore on June 27, 2004 or the Brooks Conrad walk-off game against the Reds on May 20, 2010.

“I …

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Braves quotes after Friday’s wild win

CHIPPER JONES

On the game:

“I don’t even know where to start. That was 9-0 with Strasburg on the mound, it’s not looking real good. We just chipped away at him and got him a little bit there in the sixth. We were able to get in shouting distance there after the sixth. And then the eighth inning started off good for us and we were able to get within a run and just put some pressure on their closer. Tyler Clippard has been as solid as any closer in the game but his last couple outings, I know he’s struggled a little bit and leadoff walks and hit guys they’re going to come back to haunt you. Mike Bourn had a huge triple. For some reason I just had a feeling not getting then run in from third there in the ninth was going to come back to haunt us and it did, but luckily Kimmy was able to get out of that inning and O’Flaherty had a good inning and we were able to scratch one across off of Gorzelanny. I still can’t believe it. I mean 9-0, that’s never happened to me since I’ve been …

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