Archive for July, 2012

Braves have won 15 of 20, but today’s Monday

The Braves have won 15 out of 20 to get to a season-high 13 games over .500, and they’re doing something didn’t do often enough in recent seasons – beating up on the teams they’re supposed to beat.

Now if they can get this Monday albatross from around their necks.

Hanson beat the Marlins on a wild game last week, and he'll face them again tonight with the Braves riding a 16-game Monday losing streak.

Hanson beat the Marlins on a wild game last week, and he'll face them again tonight with the Braves riding a 16-game Monday losing streak.

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been more than 11 months since the Braves won a Monday game. That’s right, more than 11 months. The team that is 14-2 on Fridays this season is 0-12 on Mondays. There is no rhyme or reason. It just is.

Braves have totaled 18 runs in 12 Monday games this season, part of 16-game Monday losing skid that includes all of September 2011. Their last Monday win was Aug. 22, 2011. Coincidentally, Jair Jurrjens was the winning pitcher that day and Ryan Dempster got the loss for Chicago.

And before we go any further, yes, I still think the …

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Braves haven’t won on Monday since Aug. 22

The Braves have lost 16 consecutive Monday games, including four in September and 12 this season. Their last Monday win came on Aug. 22, 2011, when they beat the Cubs 3-0 at Chicago. Jair Jurrjens got the win that day and Ryan Dempster took the loss.

The Monday losing streak:

Sept. 5, 2011 – lost 9-0 at Philadelphia

Sept. 12, 2011 – lost 5-4 vs. Marlins (12 innings)

Sept. 19, 2011 – lost 6-5 at Miami

Sept. 26, 2011 – lost 4-2 vs. Phillies

April 9, 2012 – lost 8-3 at Houston

April 16, 2012 – lost 6-1 vs. Mets

April 23, 2012 – lost 7-2 at Los Angeles Dodgers

April 30, 2012 – lost 9-3 vs. Pirates

May 7, 2012 – lost 5-1 at Chicago Cubs

May 14, 2012 – lost 3-1 vs. Cincinnati

May 21, 2012 – lost 4-1 at Cincinnati

May 28, 2012 – lost 8-2 vs. St. Louis

June 11, 2012 – lost 3-0 vs. Yankees

June 18, 2012 – lost 6-2 at New York Yankees

July 2, 2012 – lost 4-1 vs. Chicago Cubs

July 23, 2012 – lost 2-1 at Miami

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Braves complete 6-0 July sweep of Phillies

When the Phillies beat the Braves in two games Sept. 26-27, 2007, it was the final step for surging Philadelphia to move into a first-place tie with the faltering New York Mets, and from there the Phillies won the first of their five consecutive division titles by taking two of three in a season-ending series against Washington.

The Phillies all but owned the Braves from that point, going 47-28 against them beginning with those two crucial wins through their first game (and win) against them this season.

But now, the Braves have finally restored proper order to their relationship with the Phillies.

Jason Heyward homered in the first inning, Chipper Jones homered in the third, and the Braves led all the way Sunday in a 6-2 win at Turner Field against Roy Halladay to finish off their second series sweep against the Phillies in July.

Tim Hudson got his 10th win and the Braves improved to 13 games over .500 (57-44) for the first time this season, still four games behind National …

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Next for Braves: Miami Marlins

Series preview: vs. Marlins

When (TV): 7:10 p.m. Monday-Thursday (SPSO)

Radio: 680, 93.7, 100.5

Probable starting pitchers:

Monday: Braves RH Tommy Hanson (11-5, 4.39 ERA) vs. LH Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.31)

Tuesday: Braves RH Kris Medlen (1-1, 2.48) vs. RH Ricky Nolasco (8-9, 4.80)

Wednesday: Braves RH Ben Sheets (3-0, 0.50) vs. RH Carlos Zambrano (5-9, 4.54)

Thursday: Braves LH Mike Minor (6-7, 5.18) vs. RH Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.69)

About the Braves:

Batting: Chipper Jones went 2-for-4 with a home run Sunday to make him 12-for-35 (.343) over his past 10 games, with three doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs. Juan Francisco hit a 435-foot second-deck home run on Wednesday in Miami, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He’ll likely start at third base the second game of the series, giving Jones a rest day. Jason Heyward has homered twice in the past four games, including Wednesday in Miami off Wade LeBlanc.

Pitching: In his last start Wednesday against the Marlins, Hanson became …

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Braves quotes after Sunday’s win against Phillies

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On Chipper facing the “Doc,” not the doctor

“It was a good appointment I guess. Good overall team win. We had a lot of guys contribute to this win. Huddy obviously gave us a strong outing. Heyward put us on the board early. Chipper contributed with his solo home run, Danny Uggla with an RBI double, hopefully get him going.

“Played some good defense. And we got through that sixth inning. It was kind of hairy there a little bit. Durbin going 1 1/3 innings through their lineup. It was a good win. Huddy got his 10th win and O’Flaherty did his job there in the eighth inning.”

On sweeping Phillies for second time this month

“We’re taking advantage of some of the miscues they’ve made. We’ve got some timely hits and we’ve pitched. Go back and look at the last six games we’ve played against them we’ve had all those things, but the common denominator is we’ve pitched pretty well. Roger has done a terrific job with the game plan and Rossy and …

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K is for Kimbrel, who’s racking up the strikeouts

Craig Kimbrel has been largely unhittable this season – his .119 opponents’ batting average leads all major-league relievers – but he’s almost untouchable of late.

He has 67 strikeouts in 40 innings and has recorded 59 of his past 102 outs via whiff. Entering Sunday he was third in strikeouts among National League relievers behind Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman (96) and Dodger Kenley Jansen (72).

Kimbrel said having better command has helped him not only keep his walks down but see the strikeout total go up.

“The strikeouts are just coming with getting ahead of hitters and throwing it a little bit out of the zone where they can’t hit it,” Kimbrel said.

He struck out 127 of the 306 batters he faced last year (42 percent) and led all major league relievers in strikeouts. But Kimbrel said he’s felt like he’s been in even better command of his pitches this season.

“I’ve been able to determine if I’m going to throw it at the bottom of the zone or at the top of …

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Heyward sixth player in majors to 15/15

Jason Heyward stole his career-high 15th base of the season on Saturday against the Phillies and hit his 16th home run Sunday against Roy Halladay, moving him over the plateau of 15 or more home runs and 15 stolen bases on the season.

Heyward was the sixth player in the majors to reach 15/15 this season, along with the Brewers’ Ryan Braun, Nationals’ Ian Desmond, Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez, White Sox’ Alex Rios and Angels’ Mike Trout.

Heyward has two months to become the Braves’ first 20-steal, 20-homer man since Andruw Jones in 2000, when he hit 36 home runs and stole 21 bases.

“Fifteen stolen bases is not a lot and I’m not content with 16 homers,” said Heyward, whose career-high in home runs is 18. “I want to keep going. More production means more wins, especially from the No. 3 hole, you’ve got guys in front of you.”

The Braves have had only 20 players in franchise history reach both 20 home runs and 20 steals in a season.

“He’s got the all-around …

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Fredi G. on Uggla’s epic slump and Chipper’s Tweet

After Fredi Gonzalez told a funny story this morning about how he’d not slept much worried about Chipper Jones’ health after Chipper Tweeted late Saturday night that he “had a date with the Doc” today (more on that in a moment), I ruined the mood by asking about the decidedly unfunny and extended slump of one Dan Uggla.

Gonzalez said Dan Uggla's long, brutal hitting slump hasn't hurt his confidence or hustle, so he'll keep playing him and let him try to work through it.

Gonzalez said Dan Uggla's long, brutal hitting slump hasn't hurt his confidence or hustle, so he'll keep playing him and let him try to work through it.

It’s getting epic, folks.

The Braves second baseman had a two-homer, five-RBI game on June 5 at Miami, and since then it’s been he’s been the worst hitter in baseball.

Uggla has hit .110 (15-for-136) with two doubles, two homers, nine RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 42 games since then, and he’s gone hitless in 10 of his past 11 games, with at least three at-bats in each of those 10 0-for’s. He’s 0-for-21 with nine strikeouts in his past seven games.

The home fans are getting restless – …

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Diaz awaiting answers on thumb

Outfielder Matt Diaz should know by Wednesday or Thursday what’s to come next with his ailing right thumb. Dr. Gary Lourie put him in a cast on Friday and plans to keep him in it for five days to see if the wound will heal on its own. After they remove it, he’ll know whether he can begin a rehabilitation program and start swinging a bat again, or face surgery, which will likely end his season.

“Frustrating,” said Diaz, who is hitting .222 in 51 games off the bench for the Braves. “Still painful. So we’re giving it five days to do nothing. See what happens. See what track we’re on at that point.”

An MRI revealed foreign bodies in his thumb, which Diaz and his doctors believe are similar to what caused him problems in 2009 and 2010 – splinters from a palm frond he got while he clearing his yard. Diaz said he’s completed a course of antibiotics and there are still no signs of infection but the wound has not closed on its own.

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Braves quotes after Saturday’s win against Phillies

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On patience paying off with Minor

“His last three or four outings have been really, really good. Today he was about as good as I’ve seen him, command of his fastball both sides of the plate, change-ups behind in the count, change-ups to strike people out. He really kept them off balance. We got two runs and Blanton was pretty stingy also. But nice sac fly by Chipper there early on and we made it count. Played some good defense behind Mike. It’s a good outing. Now let’s try to get greedy and go get another one tomorrow.”

On poise and maturity different than first two months

“It takes a little time. He’s not a finished product by any means, but he’s heading in that direction pretty quickly and right in front of our eyes. Good for him, good for us and good for us as an organization, as a team to be patient with that young man. Hopefully he keeps building on that. It was a situation where if you don’t have the best closer in the game sitting out …

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