Archive for August, 2012

Suffice to say, Medlen has secured his spot in Braves rotation

SAN DIEGO – Before we turn the page on last night’s Medlen-fest and focus on the Braves’ series finale and road-trip finale this afternoon (or 6:35 p.m. back in Atlanta), indulge me a few more moments to reflect upon what we’ve witnessed from the boyish looking right-hander who has what Freddie Freeman called the “Bugs Bunny change-up” and what John Smoltz called a fearless mound presence.

Medlen has been nothing short of sensational since moving to the starting rotation. (AP photo)

Medlen has been nothing short of sensational since moving to the starting rotation. (AP photo)

The debate over whether Kris Medlen was more valuable as a starter or reliever is now moot. He won’t be pitching the sixth and seventh innings in relief again anytime soon.

The only debate is likely to be which of the first three rotation spots should he have for the postseason rotation, assuming the Braves hold on and make it, at least as a wild card and possibly as the NL East winner, the far more preferable – albeit still less likely — route. But with the Nationals in a five-game skid through …

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Braves quotes after Tuesday’s win against Padres

**KRIS MEDLEN

On how that felt

“I rarely get a chance to pitch in front of my family. It was special. It was cool.”

How many were here?

“Oh, God. I have a buttload of cousins. Third, fourth, fifth ones that I talk to still. They were all there. My wife’s here. It was cool. I had a couple of coaches here too.”

On Chipper’s RBI in first inning

“First half-inning, it’s great to get on the board. We only got two, but still it’s a big one once you’re trying to go back out there for your first inning with the lead already. So it was huge.”

Any pressure with the scoreless-innings streak?

“It doesn’t matter to me. We’re winning games. That’s all that really matters. When you start worrying about stuff like that, that’s when you start getting off your plan and off focus. So I just want to stay focused and take it a start at a time, and whatever other cliché I can say. One pitch at a time.”

On starting instead of relieving

“I keep saying the same things, but I love the game, …

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Braves win, Medlen’s scoreless streak at 28-1/3 inn.

SAN DIEGO – The undersized Braves right-hander who didn’t crack the starting rotation until last month pitched like a bona fide ace again Tuesday night, and there won’t be any debate about his role again for the forseeable future.

Kris Medlen ran his scoreless-innings streak to 28-1/3 and struggling Dan Uggla hit a mammoth home run in a 2-0 win against the Padres at Petco Park, as the Braves snapped San Diego’s eight-game winning streak and gained a game on the suddenly skidding Nationals.

The Braves extended a franchise record to 17 consecutive wins in starts by Medlen dating to 2010, and pulled within four games of the NL East-leading Nationals, who were shut out 9-0 by Miami  in their fifth consecutive loss.

“He’s terrific,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Medlen (6-1), who allowed five hits and no walks with nine strikeouts in eight innings. “He does everything you want a starting pitcher to do. Hopefully there’s young players out there watching him pitch. He gets …

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Durbin’s family in Baton Rouge braced for hurricane

SAN DIEGO – As Hurricane Isaac approached the southern Louisiana coast on Tuesday, Braves pitchers Chad Durbin and Ben Sheets stayed in touch with their wives and other family members back home in that state.

Durbin’s wife and two children were at home in Baton Rouge, in south central Louisiana, 80 miles from New Orleans. Sheets’ wife and two children were home in Monroe, in the northeast corner of Louisiana.

“It’s supposed to be a tropical storm by the time it gets to Baton Rouge,” Durbin said. “Lose power, that type of thing. Hopefully it doesn’t gain any more strength overnight. It’s a 1 [Category 1 hurricane], but as soon as it hits land it’ll break up a little bit.”

As a longtime resident of Baton Rough, Durbin has been through numerous tropical storms and hurricanes.

“There’s more concern with how slow it’s moving,” he said. “The more rain we get, the worse it is — especially in New Orleans, with their issues. Baton Rough usually holds up pretty well. We just …

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Uggla dropped to 8th in batting order for first time

SAN DIEGO – Struggling Dan Uggla showed Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez enough Monday to stay in the lineup, but not to keep him out of the eighth spot for the first time in his career.

Gonzalez wanted to play outfielder Reed Johnson on Tuesday against Padres left-hander Andrew Werner, so he moved left fielder Martin Prado to shortstop. Paul Janish was out of the lineup for just the second time in 44 games since he replaced injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons.

Uggla, batting a league-worst .207 before Tuesday, was dropped to Janish’s usual eighth spot after batting mostly sixth or seventh for the past eight weeks as his struggles continued.

“I talked to Danny,” Gonzalez said. “You hate to hit him eighth, but somebody’s got to hit eighth, and I felt like that way you kind of split the left-handers.”

He referred to left-handed hitters Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann, who batted fifth and seventh Tuesday. Gonzalez wanted a right-handed batter between them and went with Johnson, …

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Medlen’s Braves-record streak on line vs. Padres

SAN DIEGO – After being shut out Monday night by a Padres 22-year-old, Casey Kelly, making his major league debut, tonight the braves will face another pitcher they’ve never seen, Andrew Werner, who is making his second major league start. And this rookie is left-handed. Uh-oh.

The Braves have won 16 consecutive games started by Kris Medlen, who toes the slab tonight against the streaking Padres.

The Braves have won 16 consecutive games started by Kris Medlen, who toes the slab tonight against the streaking Padres.

Ah, but the Braves will counter with their no-longer-secret weapon, Kris Medlen, who brings with him a rather remarkable team-record streak of 16 consecutive wins for the Braves in games he’s started going back to 2010.

Medlen and his streak are up against the Padres and their eight-game winning streak. Something’s gotta give, folks. It should be interesting.

By the way, of course, the Braves are facing lefties tonight and in series finale (Eric Stults). It wouldn’t feel right if they didn’t face one or more lefties in a series, know what I mean? Faced two in San Francisco, now two …

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Braves held scoreless in loss to debuting Padre pitcher

SAN DIEGO – The Braves didn’t have much difficulty beating pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum in front of sellout crowds at San Francisco Saturday and Sunday.

But up against 22-year-old Casey Kelly, making his major league debut for San Diego before a sparse Monday night crowd at Petco Park?

Trouble.

Kelly, the son of former Braves minor league manager Pat Kelly, pitched six innings of three-hit ball and the streaking Padres blanked the Braves 3-0 in the opener of a three-game series.

“That team has won eight in a row now, pitching well and playing well,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves slipped back to five games behind NL East leader Washington, which was off Monday. “We just came out of a real good series against the Giants and had a little momentum. They just pitched a little better and we hit the ball at them.”

Paul Maholm (11-8) lost for the third time in five starts since being traded to the Braves, allowing eight hits and one walk in 6-2/3 innings, …

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Braves quotes after Monday’s loss to Padres

**FREDI GONZALEZ

“We hit some balls hard, and they did also. They hit a couple of balls to the wall and we made catches, and we hit some. Prado lines out on that rocket to the second baseman, gets them out of that inning. We hit the ball hard. For only getting four hits, we felt like we had a good approach. I thought Uggla’s approach today was really good. He hit that ball to straightaway center. I thought that ball had a chance.”

“Bu Casey was good. He kept his composure for a young kid. He did a nice job. He did a lot of good things for them. Fielded his position. Got a base hit. Gave them some innings for them to win the ballgame.”

On Maholm

“Paul was outstanding. Giving up two runs and goint 6-2/3 innings, giving an opportunity for us to win the ballgame. It just felt better than a shutout, the way we swung the bats and the way our approach was.”

All of Maholm’s runs as a Brave have come on homers

“You know what, that’s the way it happens sometimes. He’s not going to walk …

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Janish has proven to be key addition for Braves

SAN DIEGO – When rookie shortstop sensation Andrelton Simmons broke a bone in his throwing hand in the last game before the All-Star break, the Braves figured to take a significant step back defensively until he returned.

Who would’ve thought a trade for a 29-year-old Triple-A shortstop could so effectively fill the defensive void? But it did.

Paul Janish had one error in 188 defensive chances for Atlanta before Monday and led National League shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage since the All-Star break. Janish has started 42 of 43 games since coming over from the Reds organization in a July 14 trade for minor league pitcher Todd Redmond.

“Our scouts did a terrific job getting Yonny,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If we didn’t have him, I just can’t see another guy out there filling the position the way he’s filled it for us. Not without giving up big-time people. We gave up a young pitcher. [Redmond] is a journeyman right-hander and we give him up for this guy – …

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5-tool Heyward is reminding us what the fuss was about

SAN DIEGO – He isn’t a finished product yet, but for the past few months Jason Heyward has reminded everyone what all the fuss was about when he burst onto the scene in the spring of 2010.

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Heyward hit three homers in the past three days at San Francisco. (AP photo)

The multi-talented Braves right fielder, one of the few legitimate “five-tool” players in the National League, has shown his full range of skills since early June during the healthiest and most productive stretch of his career.

(For those who might not know, the five tools are hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and field.)

And you better believe there has been a collective sigh of relief from Braves officials, even if they wouldn’t admit it publicly. The Braves had an awful lot riding on Heyward, who has been talked about as a future face of the franchise since he and Freddie Freeman were 19-year-old non-roster invitees to manager Bobby Cox’s spring training in 2009.

Now Heyward is a 23-year-old — his …

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