Braves top Phillies on third straight win by Sheets

If the Braves needed to drown out any sorrows Friday night, after watching one of their top trade targets, Zack Greinke, acquired by the Angels, Ben Sheets was the perfect man for the job.

Sheets keeps making his own case for being one of the biggest acquisitions in the majors this month. He pitched six strong innings, allowing one run, to win his third straight game for the Braves, 6-1 over the Phillies.

The 34-year-old with the bionic arm is now 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA since returning from two years out of the game following two elbow operations.

The former four-time All-Star for the Brewers built up his arm strength in his backyard, pitched a simulated game for Braves scouts at Georgia Tech while in town coaching his son’s Little League team, and now he’s given up only one run in 18 innings.

“It was all upside,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez of signing Sheets to a minor league contract. “And good for (Braves general manager) Frank (Wren) to think outside the box a little bit and go get him. Right now he’s about as good as you want.”

Sheets gave up one run on two hits to the first two Phillies batters he faced, breaking up his 12-inning scoreless streak, and no more over the next five innings.

His batterymate Brian McCann did what he’s done every game he’s played against the Phillies this season – hit a home run – to give Sheets a 5-1 cushion with a three-run shot in the fifth inning.

“I’m just riding it, dude, riding the wave,” Sheets said. “I’m on a very good team and guys do the heavy pulling. I’m just trying to put in a little two cents myself, try to help us out.”

McCann has hit a home run in each of the six games he’s played against the Phillies, including two grand slams.

He hit a grand slam to help the Braves rally from 6-0 down against Roy Halladay on May 2 on their way to a 15-13 win in 11 innings. That game snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Phillies. Since then the Braves have won five of six against their NL East rival and four in a row. They’re back within four games of the Nationals.

The Braves spoiled Cole Hamels’ first start for the Phillies since he signed a six-year $144 million extension on Wednesday. He was off his game. He had a career-high six walks on Friday, threw more balls than strikes (56 balls to 53 strikes) and lasted a season-low five innings.

The Braves took advantage of all the freebie baserunners as well as two errors committed by the Phillies. Third baseman Mike Fontenot misplayed a groundball by Sheets, with the bases loaded and two outs in the second inning, allowing the Braves to break through with their first of two runs. Michael Bourn helped tack on another run in the sixth by reaching on left fielder John Mayberry’s three-base error.

Chipper Jones doubled twice in three at-bats against Hamels to continue his hot streak. He has hit safely in 23 of his past 25 games, including eight straight, while hitting 34-for-92 (.370). His second double in the fifth inning tied him with Reds great Pete Rose for second all-time in extra-base hits among switch-hitters. Jones now has No. 1,041.

“We got Cole on an off night,” Jones said. “…That’s very uncharacteristic, but we took advantage of it. Error helped there in the second, kind of get us on top. Got the homestand and the series kicked off on the right foot against a really good pitcher.”

Sheets’ fastball was not quite as lively Friday as it had been in his first two starts, sometimes settling at 89 mph, not the 91-92 mph he maintained for much of his first two starts. But that didn’t change his effectiveness. He has now beat the Mets, Nationals and Phillies to help the Braves go 11-4 this month against the NL East.

“That curveball he possesses is the great equalizer,” Jones said. “He throws that thing whenever he wants. He can get a quick strike with it to get ahead early and set up some other things, and he can drop it on you 3-2.”

Sheets gave up back-to-back hits to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino to allow the Phillies’ only run. But after a two-out walk to Carlos Ruiz, Sheets coaxed a groundout from Hunter Pence to end the first inning. He set it up with a first-pitch curveball, then got Pence to bounce out to second base on a 92 mph fastball.

“I’m just scared out there really,” Sheets said, laughing. “It’s definitely not the stuff that I’m accustomed to pitching with. I’m just making good pitches with all of them. I’ve got a different arsenal, but it’s all about putting the ball where you want to put it, whatever you throw. Even if it’s a terrible pitch, if it’s located well it’s OK.”

55 comments Add your comment

Busch Leaguer

July 28th, 2012
12:06 am

John Leonard

July 28th, 2012
12:09 am

The ace we needed.

nolakid21

July 28th, 2012
12:14 am

Why do you talk about Greinke like he was that big on our list? We never wanted to give up the propects to get him. We are looking for some bullpen and a platoon player, Scott Hariston is who we are looking at, that can hit left handed pitching. Slide Medlen in the rotation, get Moylan back and we got a solid team. No reason to spend a ton of prospects for rental players. Wren has already said he will not do that.

BravesfaninAugusta

July 28th, 2012
12:16 am

Sheets Hudson Hansen Minor and Delgado/Medlen are good enough to get us into the World Series….Jeff Schulz needs to get off Wren’s back. Let’s keep Teheran AND Delgado instead of trading away our talent for a rent-an-arm

Grandma Giffin

July 28th, 2012
12:27 am

Moylan is gonna take a little bit longer to come back. Tendinitis according to his twitter page.

nolakid21

July 28th, 2012
12:28 am

Lol Jeff Schultz needs to stay away from Baseball and College Football.

BoiseBrave

July 28th, 2012
12:31 am

I don’t know why, but every time I see someone post FIRST, I secretly hope their Grandma goes to her basement and kicks that 13 year old commenter straight in the balls.

Ninth!

jharber

July 28th, 2012
12:46 am

Does anyone on this blog honestly believe the Braves has what it takes to win? If so keep spending your money on them.

beone

July 28th, 2012
12:47 am

Jeff trying to create some controversy. It sells papers.

Grandma Giffin

July 28th, 2012
1:08 am

Dan Uggla, .211

Sammy

July 28th, 2012
1:32 am

Post #4 above: Sheets and Hudson YES. Minor and Hanson NO! This rotation is not good enough to get the Braves to the World Series and maybe not even to the playoffs. These ‘far too common’ games (see the recent Washington series) where 8 or 9 runs are given up are not World Series caliber. Getting too excited about wins against sub.500 clubs like the Marlins and now Philly is just opening up yourself to great disappointment. I’d love to know how many 9 run games were evident with the 1995 Braves team. That would be interesting.

BravesFanInNashville

July 28th, 2012
1:40 am

Pitching Medlen in the rotation along with Sheets will be the difference maker for the rest of the season. Delgado is good for a couple of innings and will be fine out of the pen. His problem has been 2nd and 3rd time through the batting order. Hairston sounds like a big help if we can get him reasonably.

BravesFanInNashville

July 28th, 2012
1:46 am

Bullpen of Moylen, Ventors, EOF, Durbin, Martinez, Delgado and Kimbrel is pretty solid. The only question is Moylen. Not bad if the rotation can keep us in most games our lineup should get us to the post season barring injuries. The Braves biggest challenge I think will be to finish the season strong. The last two years their record in the last 6 games has been 1-11. I like that they didn’t trade a future starter for a rental. Thank you Ryan Dempster for saying no.

braveschipper

July 28th, 2012
2:58 am

I hate Jeff Schultz and Mark Bradley! They both are wrong on every post they put up. I am glad Terrence Moore doesn’t write for ajc anymore, now we need Mark and Jeff to do the same! David O’brien , Carrol Rogers, and D Orlando Ledbetter are awesome though! Anyways, Ben Sheets when healthy was always the best pitcher in baseball !! Hopefully he stays healthy the rest of his career! Sheets, Hudson, Medlen, Minor, Hanson in that order. Hopefully we can trade Hanson !!

Bird

July 28th, 2012
3:15 am

The Braves need another vet starter. I just can’t put any faith in Tommy Hanson.

brave boy

July 28th, 2012
3:31 am

great win braves and sheets!

brave boy

July 28th, 2012
3:35 am

Jeff: Reading posts from these morons solidifies your employment until 2080! Keep up the good work!

PaulG

July 28th, 2012
4:44 am

Come on fredi haters….not a single post yet….you can do better than that….even if they are winning you he has to be blamed for something

BC

July 28th, 2012
5:23 am

Seems like the type of guy I would want to sit next to , if I was one of the young Braves pitchers. Think what you could learn from this guy.

Joe Adcock

July 28th, 2012
7:11 am

Glad to PaulG. Can Freddie the Fruitcake possibly get any fatter? The guy looks like a 300 pound jelly bean for crying out loud.

Tim

July 28th, 2012
7:29 am

I for one am very happy that Mr Wren is not giving away our future for players that we either would have no chance or willingness to pay or resign.Let us focus on the future and build for such.

Let's Go

July 28th, 2012
7:35 am

Great game last night taking care of Hamels. As far as the Braves makig a trade a lot of folks seem hung up on Frank Wren not wanting to part with Teheran but I think the player most teams are wanting and Frank’s not wanting to let go of is Christian Bethancourt. For Greinke the Angels gave up the #1 prospect, a position player, and 2 pitching prospects and I think for the Braves to have had any chance at him they would have had to include Bethancourt.

DoninAcworth

July 28th, 2012
7:35 am

Like any team we have some pluses and some not so plus. This is the team we have so let’s root for them. Can’t win ‘em all but winning most series will put us in contention and that’s where we are right now. Look at the Mets, Phillies and Marlins… falling from grace
while we are hanging on. Let’s GO BRAVES! Nice first win – now one more or, two if you can!

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
9:07 am

Jeff Shultz would make a great leader of a lynch mob.
Does he believes the crap that he hacks out, himself.
He seems to have a legion of dumbazzes that follow his idiotic ramblings.

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
9:13 am

I think that the Angels gave up their # 1, #4, & #9 prospects to get Greinke(who is a head case, reportedly), and will have to pay him around $20million a year to keep him.
Some of these folks on these blogs(like Jeff Shultz and his puppydog followers) can’t remember the Texiera trade?

Chipster

July 28th, 2012
9:21 am

DoninAcworth – That was a refreshing post. You are a baseball fan!

da[01

July 28th, 2012
9:43 am

I want a great pitcher like Grienke as much as anyone but if we got him and his 3.5+ ERA, we would probably not be able to sign people like Bourn or McCann and we really would not have any $ to improve the team.

Let’s resign Bourn, get a RH left fielder, let our young pitchers mature (that takes time) and spend for great relievers. We are ok, we will not win the world series this year.

BTW: Chipper is great.

JNick

July 28th, 2012
9:51 am

@reckingball, I’m pretty sure that SS wasn’t their #1 prospect – and their farm system is one of the worst in baseball to begin with, so putting up those numbers doesn’t really mean much. I’m shocked that the Brewers got so little in return for Greinke…

Veer

July 28th, 2012
9:54 am

GUYS GUYS GUYS IT IS TIME TO CELEBRATE.
WE HAVE ACQUIRED BATISTA!!!! HE IS A POET.
He is the missing piece that we needed. Batista is the modern day shakesphere baby.
Batista will come out of the bullpen and be the difference maker

YA!!!!!!!!!!! LETS PARTY!!!!!!!!!!

OUR BIG AQUSISTION!!!!!!!

Bill M.

July 28th, 2012
10:00 am

Bradley & Schultz needs to write about something else. I don’t blame Wren for not trading the young players. The Braves may be able to sign Greinke this off season. This off season is going to be huge, then they can decide which young players to trade.

ed

July 28th, 2012
10:10 am

the obvious reason for not signing greinke is money fw needs to be honest with atl fans and say that the co he works will not approve deals that cost this much does not bode well for keeping michael bourne for next year just awfull

bring back blauser

July 28th, 2012
10:15 am

i believe wren will pull off the best deal of all and get maholm from the cubs. this guy can pitch, he has never had anything behind him. and he can be had for something reasonable

Marty

July 28th, 2012
10:21 am

ed — You’re completely wrong. The Greinke trade had nothing to do with money and everything to do with personnel cost. If you think the Teixeira trade was bad a few years ago (and it was), imagine the same thing, only with players who have already proven they can play in the majors. Delgado hasn’t been an ace obviously, but he has shown major-league stuff and an ability to get major-league hitters out. If we had gotten a window to negotiate a long-term deal with Greinke as part of the trade, great, but you’ll notice that the Angels didn’t even get that — most likely because Greinke has said many times that he is determined to test free agency. So a bunch of real players for a 2-month rental? No thanks.

Amber Girl

July 28th, 2012
10:21 am

Good morning Y’all. I don’t know if there is any truth to it but I am hearing Jason Vargas. Does any one know?

bring back blauser

July 28th, 2012
10:24 am

the deal the angels made for greinke will make the trade the braves made for teixeira look like a minor league deal. the angels gave away the mint for greinke. i would much see a deal of delgado for maholm

JNick

July 28th, 2012
10:32 am

Most reports have them listed as 18th or 19th best system, and that’s when Mike Trout was still considered a “prospect”. Garrett Richards is probably their best prospect. The SS they traded was hurt most of last year…currently, they’re the 25th best system, and after this trade, I’d say they’re dead last.

Baseball Prospectus has Segura listed as a 4 star prospect, which is crazy (Andrelton Simmons is a 3 star, according to them) and Hellweg is a 3 star, while Pena is a 2 star.

I guess they were really sold on getting an infielder…

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
11:04 am

Are you saying that Baseball Prospectus(”which is crazy”) ratings, aren’t always right?
Does “putting up those numbers” really mean that much?

OTP

July 28th, 2012
11:25 am

They are not going to take Hanson out of the rotation.

John w

July 28th, 2012
11:47 am

Leave this staff alone!! If Freddi will put Medlen in as the # 4 starter and Delgado in his place in the bullpen we’ll be fine. Concentrate on getting a right handed bat. That’s what we’ll need in the playoffs! Sheets and Hudson will match up against anyone in the National league in October . Don’t waste our young prospects!!

Ken Stallings

July 28th, 2012
11:52 am

Over the course of their last three starts, Ben Sheets has performed significantly better than either Ryan Dempster or Zack Grienke. I don’t think Wren is getting nearly enough credit to seeing an opportunity and seizing it. Getting Sheets is looking more and more as a superior acquisition than a trade for either of the top two pitchers in the market (Dempster and Greinke).

Wren has performed admirably this season. His trade for Bourne last season was equally brilliant and is a key factor in this year’s offensive resurgence. Rather than trade the vital farm talent for a rental player, I would prefer that the Braves leverage the youth they have now. With Sheets in the rotation, I think the Braves would have as much chance of reaching the post-season this year, and would preserve the future.

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
12:07 pm

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
What he said.

Sportsbrain

July 28th, 2012
12:15 pm

jharber, so far it looks to me like the Braves have had what it takes to win at least 55 times.

varoadrunner

July 28th, 2012
12:26 pm

I’m worried.

Hudson, Sheets, sometimes Hanson God only knows with JJ and Minor.
Greinke goes West. Dempster doesn’t want us cause he wants a western address too. So are we going to give away our prospects for “non talent” or washed up has-beens?

I’m worried!

Who Me?

July 28th, 2012
12:27 pm

Agree Ken Stallings. But we do need at least one more solid starter in the rotation and we don’t seem to have that on the farm.

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
12:38 pm

IMO, I think that the Braves already have at least one more solid starter, and he is currently assigned to the bullpen.

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
12:47 pm

@12:26pm………..I would bet that Dempster isn’t that far from being a washed up has-been. Has he ever been that much of an ever-was?
If the Braves could re-sign Dempster long-term, would he be worth a $20million per yr., multi-yr. contract?
The Braves organization’s azzes are still smarting, from the Derek Lowe burn, I would think.

youneverknow

July 28th, 2012
12:47 pm

Agree about Medlin needing to start. I don’t think we need to bring in another starter from another team.

jharber

July 28th, 2012
12:53 pm

sports brain- was speaking of post season, if they can get there.

Hoosier Aaron

July 28th, 2012
1:02 pm

Scott Diamond is 9-4 2.88 ERA for Twins.
Threw a 3-hit, shutout…complete game (that’s when the starter goes 9 innings).
We missed on him – be nice to have him back.

ijudgenot

July 28th, 2012
1:12 pm

I have applauded Shultz in the past for saying what the other reporters would not say about the Braves players and management, however this blog is for the purpose of giving red meat to the natives. It would have been gross malfeasance to trade any top ten prospect for a two month rental that you know you won’t be able to re-sign next year. Dempster or Greinke trade should only be made if they could sign them to a multiple year deal. With Dempster it woluld be a three year deal at the most but could go more with Greinke. Exchanging Medlen and Delgodo’s roles is worth a try. Medlen may be able go six like Sheets. Save Degodo until you need a long reliever.

jc krapil

July 28th, 2012
1:14 pm

reckingball you couldn’t hold up Jeff’s jockey strap and come on here cutting him down. You and your co-name amber are sick. How many times have you been in to talk to Wren, are the players in club house. What makes you so smart? Man get a life.

Hal J

July 28th, 2012
1:19 pm

Unless the Angels overwhelm Greinke with an offer too good to refuse, when he gets to free agency, the Braves need to sign him. Step up. He’s better than Cole Hamels, and more than likely a better risk against injury. But in the meantime, given the miracle that is Ben Sheets, there’s a guy taking it easy, maybe working out somewhere in South Florida who at age of just 36 probably has a lot of pain left for the National League. Retired, with plenty of money already, but maybe wanting to pitch again, prove something else to himself. And others. Name of Javier Vasquez. Had a great year for the Braves once upon a time not so long ago… check him out, Mr. Wren…?

Amber Girl

July 28th, 2012
1:39 pm

@Mr krapil I am not Mr eckingball. I do not particular like him. I agree he is sick. I am not him. I am AMBER.

reckingball

July 28th, 2012
4:50 pm

jc krapil/afan…………Shultz is a hack.
Are you one of his sheep? haha.

74bravesjersey

July 28th, 2012
7:17 pm

Also give Mejia a shot, he’s been Thump’n, 307avg. 21Hr. signed as OF’er, learned 1B. O’l Buddy Carlyle waiting in the wings, just in case.

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