On Maholm’s debut
“I thought he did a helluva job. Most nights with our offense, you win that game. We had a chance.”
“The big breaking ball to Maxwell, he just threw it right in his loop, right in his wheelhouse. It looks like he’s swinging the bat pretty good right now. Their hitting coach has probably done a good job with him, because I’ve never seen him this good with his swing. Then you bring in a right-hander and he smokes the ball to right field…. But overall, I thought Paul did a terrific job. Seven innings, three runs.”
On missed opportunities
“Right from the get-go, the first inning we had [runners on] first and second and Freeman hits that rocket to left field. Coming in, the guy makes a great grab on it and we get nothing. And then I thought Danny had a helluva an at-bat, two-run [hit] tied the ballgame up. But we just didn’t score.”
On Astros rookie Lucas Harrell
“Guys were coming back to the dugout saying, this guy’s got pretty good stuff. Sinker, and a slider and cutter, and he’s throwing change-ups to left-handers. And he competed his butt off today against us. For a team that’s last in their division, he’s pretty darn good.”
Your team out of it mentally at all, or just facing a good pitcher?
“No, I don’t think we were mentally out of the game at all. The guy makes some good pitches and they made some good plays when they had to. This time of year, there’s no mentally off days unless you’re sitting on the bench or on the DL. If you’re in the game, you’re locked in.”
On Venters, not pitched last few days and Avilan was up in ‘pen
“He’s fine. We’ve kind of laid off him the last three or four days. He threw a bullpen today, and unless something comes up crazy he should be good tomorrow.”
Was he sore, what’s the ailment?
“Yeah, just tender with his elbow a little bit. Nothing major. So we just took a step back.”
On his performance, the mistakes to Maxwell
“Yeah, obviously the two home runs were probably the only two mistakes I really made. The first one, a fastball ran back over [the plate], and the second one was a hanging curveball. And he did a good job of obviously hitting them a long way.”
“It’s unfortunate, especially after we tie the game [in the sixth], the first guy put them back on top [in the seventh]. The team’s been playing great, and tomorrow we’ve got to take a series.”
On avoiding homers during 5-0 winning streak in past 6 games (1 HR in that stretch)
“They happen. I made two bad pitches. Sometimes they’re fouled off, sometimes they’re hit for home runs. If I execute the pitch were I wanted to, then the worst-case scenario is he gets a hit but obviously it’s not a longball.
“Harrell pitched a good game and kept us off balance, and unfortunately I made those two mistakes.”
What was it like for you in Braves debut butterflies early?
“No, I was good. Just tried to make sure I didn’t overthrow, tried to make sure I stayed down in the zone. There was only one inning where I felt like I really wasn’t down in the zone. I was just trying to make my pitches and get groundballs and quick outs. For the most part that’s kind of how it went.”
On Astros rookie pitcher Harrell
“He’s got a good arm and a good idea what he wants to do out there. He made some good pitches tonight, defense played well for him and they kept us to two runs.”
Your potential bases-clearing hit goes foul by a couple feet, then you single in 2. You feel like you’re making some progresss?
“Yeah. All I can do is keep going up there and battling, keep fighting, keep grinding. Because once it clicks… I’ve been feeling good, feeling a lot better the last week, two weeks. It’s still not quite right yet, but when I get hot I can get as hot as anybody. So it’s a click away. All I can do is keep grinding.”
On Paul Maholm
“I thought he did a great job. He made two mistakes to Justin that resulted in three runs. Even then, even with those two mistakes, he still gave us a chance to win. He really did a good job, kept them off balance and just did his thing.”
On Astros rookie Harrell
“He had really good stuff. Good sinker and a four-seamer, change-up, cut the ball. I can see where he’s pretty tough on righties, because his ball moves a lot and it’s firm. You don’t see a lot of that these days. Give the kid credit.
“We battled all night and finally took advantage of some walks. Uggla got the two-run knock. But two [Maholm] pitches cost us three runs. That’s the difference between a 3-2 loss and a 2-nothing shutout.”
What did you think of Maholm’s performance otherwise?
“I thought he did great. He got strikeouts when he needed it, got double plays when he needed it. Just two bad pitches. And not to say they were bad pitches; you might just be running into a hitter who’s going pretty good right now. Maxwell was finding a hole wherever he hit it tonight. Unfortunately two of them flew out of the ballpark against us.”