Vivlamore reporting from Turner Field.
Paul Maholm is ready to make his Braves debut Saturday and a few days to get acclimated to his new surroundings will only help.
The left-hander will face the Astros after being acquired in a July 30th trade with the Cubs.
“It’s definitely better than coming in your first day and jumping right in to a start,” Maholm said. “I’m getting to hang out with the guys, getting to know them a little better, get to know your surroundings better. Making your first start for a team there are always a little butterflies. You are wanting to make a good impression. You have to go out there and pitch your game and do as well as you can.”
Maholm could have started Friday’s series-opener against the Astros. However, manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Cubs had planned to start Maholm on Saturday, with an extra day of rest due to an off day, so the Braves kept that schedule.
Maholm has a 12-6 career record against the Astros with a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts. He has won his last two starts against the Astros, including a 4-0 win at Wrigley Field on June 29. Maholm has been solid of late with a 4-0 record and 1.23 ERA in July.
“Obviously being in the thick of things you just want to go out and pitch well,” Maholm said of his huge jump in the standings. “The offense has been putting up runs and the defense, as always, is playing good. My job is to go out there and do my thing, get some early ground balls and outs and let the offense put up some runs and let the defense make some plays.”
Remaining in the National League, Maholm is familiar with Turner Field, which he called a “fair field.”
“It’s kind of big but for me ground balls [is bread and butter so] defense plays well then I look good,” Maholm said. “That’s my philosophy is to keep the ball on the ground and you don’t have to worry about how far the fences are.”
- Chris Vivlamore