Minor pitches gem, Braves beat Phillies 5th straight time

If Mike Minor were still pitching like he did in April and May, the Braves would be trying to trade for two starters instead of one.

But he’s not. The young left-hander has been a far better pitcher the past two months, including Saturday night when he limited the Phillies to four hits and one run with nine strikeouts in eight innings of a 2-1 win at Turner Field, the Braves’ fourth in a row.

The Braves scored two runs in the first three innings and held on to beat the Phillies for the fifth consecutive time and the sixth in eight games this season, moving to a season-high 12 games over .500.

Minor (6-7) retired the last 13 batters he faced and 14 of 15 after Chase Utley’s home run in the fourth inning cut the lead to 2-1.

“Today he was about as good as I’ve seen him,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If you don’t have the best closer in the game sitting out there in the bullpen, and you get a couple more runs, you may want to run [Minor] back out there [for the ninth inning]. For me he was that dominant. He was terrific.”

Closer Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts for his 30th save.

Minor is 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA in nine starts during June and July, after going 2-4 with a 6.98 ERA in 10 April-May starts.

“Complete 180 [degree turn],” he said of his improvement. “I wouldn’t say confidence, I’d just say my demeanor on the mound and not letting things get to me. Before, it snowballed early on if I gave up a couple of runs or whatever.  Now it’s just part of the game. If I give up one or two we’re still in the ballgame and I don’t let things get carried away.”

Minor has allowed six earned runs in 27-1/3 innings in his past four starts, posting a 1.98 ERA in that stretch while allowing two earned runs or fewer in each game.

“When he pitches like he has the last couple of times, and that [earlier] stretch for a month, he’s a bonafide major league pitcher, a guy that can go out and win you 15 ballgames — even more,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said. “He’s getting better and better, and he’s a guy that we’re going to rely on down the stretch here to win us some big ballgames. Tonight was one of the first steps of doing that.”

The Braves, winners of 14 of their past 19 games and seven of their past nine at home, needed a strong performance from Minor on Saturday because Blanton (8-9) turned in a similar outing for the last-place Phillies.

Blanton allowed four hits and two runs in seven innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. He retired 14 of the last 15 he faced, the only exception coming when Brian McCann reached on an error by first baseman Ryan Howard in the seventh inning.

“[Minor] had shutout, complete-game stuff tonight,” said third baseman Chipper Jones, who put the Braves ahead 1-0 with a sacrifice fly in the first inning. “As did Blanton. Blanton was very good, as he usually is against us. But Mikey was just one run better.”

McCann didn’t homer against the Phillies, the first time that’s happened all season. He homered in six consecutive games against them before Tuesday, the first player ever to hit a home run in as many games in a row against Philadelphia.

The Braves snapped an eight-game losing skid against the Phillies in their second game against them this season, and have won six of seven games between the teams since.

“They had our number for three or four years there,” McCann said, “and for us to go there and sweep, then come here and win two and have a chance to sweep them tomorrow, that’s big for us. Because that’s kind of a hurdle we needed to get over. They’ve got all their players here, all their guys that they won the World Series with. So it’s good to go out there, play good baseball and win.”

The five-time defending NL East champion Phillies are 45-56 and fell to 15-1/2 games behind first-place Washington. The Braves are four games behind the Nationals.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the first inning after back-to-back one-out singles by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward and Jones’ sac fly. With two on and two out, McCann flied out to the center-field warning track, coming within five feet of homering for the seventh consecutive game against Philadelphia.

Atlanta pushed its lead to 2-0 in the third after Bourn reached on a leadoff single, advanced on a groundout and scored from second on Heyward’s groundball single that wasn’t fielded cleanly by second baseman Utley beyond the back edge of the infield.

“We’ve got a date with Doc [Roy] Halladay tomorrow afternoon,” Jones said. “That’s going to be no easy task. He’s a really good pitcher. But we’ve got a chance to sweep, and we need to try and take advantage of that.”

53 comments Add your comment

Coach (2012 Fredi's Beisbol Fandango)

July 28th, 2012
9:31 pm

Mike Minor…….untradeable and the best 2nd round pick in recent memory.

Matt

July 28th, 2012
9:32 pm

Matthew 19:30

bravesgrl4life

July 28th, 2012
9:34 pm

Thanks for the quick update, DOB!

Maximum

July 28th, 2012
9:38 pm

Let’s see how Medlen does before making a move.

rich

July 28th, 2012
9:39 pm

Dan Struggla 0-3 with another stikeout – and amazingly, he was able to do that on only 8 pitches – flirting with a .200 batting average – amazing

mike

July 28th, 2012
9:40 pm

i find it hard to believe the Braves have ZERO second basemen in the minors that could not replace uggla!

DaveinNEPA

July 28th, 2012
9:41 pm

Young Mr. Minor seems to be developing into a reliable ML pitcher right before our eyes, and it’s good to see. This makes for a very satisfying win.

OrlandoBraveFan

July 28th, 2012
9:44 pm

Good job Heyward! He seems comfortable in the 3 hole. I hope we sign Michael Bourn next year. It will be a different team with out Chipper in the line up but let’s use Chipper’s money and Lowe money to get a pitcher and Bourn. Frank, since Med’s is going to start, do some nifty trading and get some good bullpen help…we’ll be all right, I hope.

double

July 28th, 2012
9:45 pm

“0″ errors helps a heap.

Eli

July 28th, 2012
9:47 pm

Pay back time, baby. The Phillies ended the Braves’ season without any mercy last year. Glad the Braves’s action this year only makes them suffer for a longer time, 61 games and the coming winter.

Norcross

July 28th, 2012
9:48 pm

you going to drop a monday on me david?

jojo

July 28th, 2012
9:49 pm

terrific game by Minor. reminded me of a fellow by the name of, let’s see— uh Tom—what was it–Glavine??

durrtydogg

July 28th, 2012
9:52 pm

Way to go Minor! Man oh man Dan Uggla is a complete waste. Every time he comes up, I know its an automatic out. Its not only a shame, its just plain ol sad. He holding us hostage!!

Najeh Davenpoop

July 28th, 2012
9:55 pm

DOB clowned me on this blog when I questioned the Infante for Uggla trade when it happened. A year and a half later I have no problem saying I’d rather have Infante back. What Uggla supplies in power, Infante makes up for in literally everything else.

Walker, Texas Ranger

July 28th, 2012
9:55 pm

Can the Braves trade for Nick Green and put him back at 2nd

NORRIS CHUCK

July 28th, 2012
9:58 pm

So, is Wren doing anything????????

Ralph

July 28th, 2012
9:59 pm

Great nite for mike, there will be many more, I believe he hqs finally turned the corner, next thing is to get Medlen cranked up. Delgado will be as good as any braves pitcher by this time next year so please Mr Wren, hang on to these guys

moboman

July 28th, 2012
10:03 pm

come on Dan, quick pulling your head out! Watch it all the way in. You will be fine.

NORRIS CHUCK

July 28th, 2012
10:04 pm

Ralph,

I know thats the correct thing to do. Wrens problem is he is so absorbed in pitching that he does not realize that a bat or two is good as well.

This is what they need righ now, a bat.

Yogi Berra

July 28th, 2012
10:05 pm

Matt..Luke 13:30

South Georgia Boy

July 28th, 2012
10:06 pm

Uggla is an absolute fraud.

Bob

July 28th, 2012
10:08 pm

@coach- Minor was not a second round pick. He was first round, 7th or 11th I believe.

Ralph

July 28th, 2012
10:09 pm

Maximum
July 28th, 2012
9:38 pm

Let’s see how Medlen does before making a move.

That would be a good thing, unfortunately when Meds pitches Tuesday the trade deadline will have passed.

GB's hamburgers

July 28th, 2012
10:16 pm

Infante, hit 278 with 8 home runs and 10 stolen bases for the Marlins this year. Mike Dunn has a career 354 era. We gave that up plus a stupifying amount of money for Uggla — not the statistical equal of Infante (except he hits more homeruns and leads the league in strikeouts). How is a GM judged if not by trades? Other GMs are cleaning our guy’s clock on these deals.

Yogi Berra

July 28th, 2012
10:19 pm

Bob, you are right. Mike was the 7th pick in 1st round 2009.

Augustus McRae

July 28th, 2012
10:21 pm

Matt…and yes, the Phillies look great being LAST! Hope we sweep tomorrow!

Jamaica Bob

July 28th, 2012
10:22 pm

David

July 28th, 2012
10:22 pm

Yogi Berra

July 28th, 2012
10:23 pm

me too McRae..have a goodnight all.

Loosing Managar = Loosing Record

July 28th, 2012
10:26 pm

BRaves R still behing the Nats. Not asure why U all are so hapy.

David

July 28th, 2012
10:28 pm

@Loosing Managar = Loosing Record: we’re happy we’re not a pathetic troll like you

Mark (another one)

July 28th, 2012
10:31 pm

Sometimes the best move by a GM is the one he doesn’t make. Wren is busy working but please don’t do a deal just to prove it. The Braves future for SP includes Vizcaino, Teheran, Delgado and Medlen. There’s no reason to rush it.

Quack Quack

July 28th, 2012
10:33 pm

I guess Minor wants to keep his job!! Nice job Bravos. Lets close them out tomorrow, then bring on the fish,,,,

GO BRAVES!!!

Semper Fi Braves fan

July 28th, 2012
10:39 pm

If Huggla would stop trying to pull everything and focus on hitting it to the gaps he would probably snap out of it. As it stands he is getting very few fast balls in the zone and the steady diet of off speed stuff he is pulling foul down the 3rd base side foul.

Chipper Jones has been known to kill off speed stuff because of his ability to “Keep his hands back” wish he would teach Uggs!

CATMAN

July 28th, 2012
10:40 pm

Hey OrlandoBraveFan. There is no way the Braves will be able to resign Bourne and a front line starting pitcher in the offseason. Chipper’s salary coming off the books will give them 14 million and Lowe’s will give them another 10 million. So they’ll have about 24 million to work with but some of that will be taken up by player’s salaries that are eligible for arbitration who will get raises. Potentionally they could clear up more room if they can dump J.J. 5.5 million and Diaz 2.1 million, but still not enough to sign a front line starter in addtion to Bourne. On the open market Bourne will command a 4-5 year contract worth a total of 80-100 million dollars. That’s 20 million per year. That will eat up most of what the Braves will have left to spend. The cheaper option will be to try and resign Sheets at a reasonable rate. My guess is he’ll want to stay with the Braves and will accept a contract within the Braves budget that won’t break their bank. I don’t see them signing starting pitching in the offseason unless they lose Bourne. If that happens we’ll need the best pitching we can get cause we won’t be scoring many runs. After this season the big albatross around the Braves neck contract wise will be Uggla’s 13 million dollars per year. No way he’s earning that right now. Two years in a row he’s slumped big time for way too long. Can’t bench him making that much and now way they will be able to trade him. Will have to move Prado to third next year and try to get a decent left fielder on the cheap. My guess is the starting rotation will look next year exactly like it does right now. With Beachy back in there at some point next year minus either Medlen if we can keep Sheets or minus Sheets if we can’t keep him with also Delgado and Teheran still being in the possible mix.

eskippy

July 28th, 2012
10:43 pm

Enter your comments here

mace224

July 28th, 2012
10:58 pm

Minor pitching well. Chipper’s having a great year. Who do you pick on now, all you armchair GMs?

jharber

July 28th, 2012
11:01 pm

mace224

July 28th, 2012
11:01 pm

Didn’t all you experts write off Minir before this game? Gee, today’s he’s a great pick. I admire the credibility of all you comment writers.

The original P. Frond

July 28th, 2012
11:01 pm

Don’t count them out. Just don’t count them out.

DoninAcworth

July 28th, 2012
11:22 pm

NoBoMan is correct on Uggla. Just two slight adjustments…one with his watching the
ball a little longer and the other change…in the mind! Love ya Dan and it’s about time
to start driving the pitchers mad!

Busch Leaguer

July 28th, 2012
11:47 pm

Busch Leaguer

July 28th, 2012
11:49 pm

Busch Leaguer

July 29th, 2012
12:03 am

Braves Rotation 2013 1.Hudson 2.Hanson 3.Minor 4.Sheets 5.Medlen same as the end of 2012.Still have flexibility of Delgado and Teheran to fall back on plus Beachy should be back some time during the summer.Bigger priorities are replacing Chipper and Bourn.Unlikely Wren will offer Bourn enough to satisfy Boras ,just hope he does not sign with an NL east team.
Spend money keeping back of bullpen intact and if Uggla keeps under performing may have to take an expensive haircut on moving his contract another DLowe deal ,pay another team to make him go away.Won’t happen though because Uggla deal was Wren’s idea.Dan is pushing Nate McClouth as the biggest Braves bust this century.

bring back blauser

July 29th, 2012
12:42 am

this loss should make phils sellers in the trade market

bring back blauser

July 29th, 2012
12:46 am

liberty media will have to re sign bourn in order to make sale of the team more attractive

mace224

July 29th, 2012
2:27 am

Congratulations Mike! These geniuses put you back in the starting rotation! Watch it though. They might all be pooling their money to buy the team. Then you and Hanson are OUT! But there are a few experts here that will help you with your pitching motion. Then you’re a guaranteed 20 game winner.

Buzz 2011

July 29th, 2012
6:43 am

Uggla is on fire! He has ran his average into the 209 range and the average is moving more every day. He is now going hitless game after game and getting even better at it. His slugging percentage, well can you imagine? The Braves probably won’t win any division tittle, but we have an ” all star” second sack.

MikeY

July 29th, 2012
6:43 am

Fellow bloggers, here is my assessment of next year:

Potential Braves 2013 roster members before free agent signings:

McCann (assume Braves accept 2013 option)
Boscan

Freeman
Uggla
Simmons
Prado
Francisco
Pastornicky
Janish

Constanza
Heyward

Hanson
Hudson (assume Braves accept 2013 option)
Juurgens
Minor
Delgado
Teheran
Beachy (midyear)

Kimbrell
Venters
O’Flaherty
Medlen
Martinez
Avilan
Vizcaino
Varvaro
Gearrin

Bourn, Ross, Hinske, Diaz, Wilson, Durbin, and Sheets are free agents, thus not on the 2013 roster unless re-signed. Chipper will be in retirement. And there are some more prospects in the minors that could have a chance. Obviously the Braves need some back-ups and to add to the OF roster.

It is also interesting to look at 2013, from a money perspective, Chipper, Lowe, and Hernandez (yes, the Braves are still on the hook for Livan’s salary for 2012) come off the books, and free agents Bourn, Ross, Hinske, Diaz, Wilson, Sheets, and Durbin are possibly gone, if the Braves do not re-sign them. That frees up about $38M. BUT we will have a number of arbitration raises: Prado, Jurrjens, and O’Flaherty are all arb-3. Janish is arb-2. Venters, Hanson, Medlen, Beachy, and Heyward are all arb-1. My guess is that raises for all these arb-eligible guys will eat about $16M. Assuming Liberty leaves the salary budget at the current level, that leaves about $22M in 2013 to either re-sign our FA’s or sign new FA’s. It will be interesting to see how the Jurrjens situation plays out, he is making $5.5M in 2012, if he does not turn it around he could be released in 2013, freeing up at least $5.5M. He might actually get a raise in the arbitration process if we keep him!

MikeY

July 29th, 2012
6:48 am

Slight typo: Martinez is arb-1 in 2013. Beachy is not arb-1 till 2014. My bad.

GO BRAVES! Sign a reliver. Belisle? We missed out on Brandon Lyon.

OrlandoBraveFan

July 29th, 2012
7:54 am

Hey Catman..agreed. Good break down on the business side of things. I hope they can somehow get Bourn back but with Boras in the mix and the Nats supposedly interested it may be tough. If all the young guys pitch like they are capable of and progress like Minor is doing so far, then maybe we would be able to spend the allotted money on MB. It will be interesting off season. I think a strong bullpen could eat up some innings that the young guys might not have during the learning
curve.

Uggla is doing so bad that he needs to rethink his whole approach and learn what Heyward has done. If Uggla ever hit an opposite field dinger, I’d pop a bottle of champagne. He’s got huge upside if he would learn this off season. I still like him.. Go Braves!

RunninWithTheDawgs

July 29th, 2012
8:50 am

I hate to think about us trading our good young pitchers away for the likes of some old fart like Dumpster who don’t even have a winning lifetime record. We’ve got some good young strong arms on our pitching staff, Let’s give them a chance. GO BRAVES !

Brandon Cox

July 29th, 2012
10:16 am

Mary Jane 4:20

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