Braves pull out the stops to complete sweep of Mets

NEW YORK – In the past week Fredi Gonzalez has made three moves that he had never made before, indications the Braves manager learned from last September’s collapse not to stay with the horse he rode in just because it still has a pulse.

The third such move came Sunday, when Gonzalez had closer Craig Kimbrel pitch the ninth inning of a tied game on the road against the Mets at Citi Field. Kimbrel struck out two in a scoreless ninth and Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly in the 10th brought in the go-ahead run for the Braves in a 3-2 win for a three-game sweep and five-game winning streak.

Peter Moylan, barely a week removed from Triple-A and a nearly a year of rehab following shoulder surgery, pitched the 10th inning for the fourth save of his career and first since June 2010.

The aggressive move met with approval in the Braves clubhouse.

“We’re taking no game lightly, no lead lightly,” said McCann, who also gave the Braves a lead with his leadoff home run in the sixth inning, his second homer in as many days after going 24 games without an extra-base hit. “We’re going to play this thing strong throughout the rest of the way and hopefully into the postseason and beyond that. Because we’re a really good team.”

The Braves have won seven of eight games and got big contributions over the weekend from two hitters who had struggled mightily. McCann had five hits and six RBIs in the past two games, and Dan Uggla went 6-for-11 with a homer and three walks in the series.

“It’s something that we really haven’t done a whole lot this year, but we’re capable of doing a lot,” McCann said. “If we get hot at the right time, this is going to be a scary team.”

Now is the right time, third baseman Chipper Jones said.

“B-Mac and Uggs have struggled a lot of the year,” he said. “I know they have some numbers, but they’ve been sporadic. And now that I’m scuffling a little bit, it’s important for somebody else to be stepping up. We all know B-Mac and Uggs can get the job done, and apparently they’re getting their swing back at a very good time.”

Gonzalez, without really announcing it, last week made Martin Prado his starting shortstop until Andrelton Simmons returns, likely Monday. The manager did it because the Braves needed more offense than they were getting with superb defender Paul Janish at shortstop. Gonzalez always said shortstop was the versatile Prado’s least-accomplished position.

This after he broke from tradition by using Kimbrel for a four-out save Wednesday, the first time he’d used the closer for more than one inning since April 2011. And then Sunday, the manager really went outside his own comfort zone by using Kimbrel in the ninth inning of a tied road game, something he said last year he could never do.

“The key word there is ‘never’ – I got lambasted” for saying he could never do it, Gonzalez said. “There’s a lot of variables, for me, for bringing the closer in on the road [in that situation]. One is, how much work does he have going into the situation. Can you go two innings? Where does he fit in the lineup, in a National League game. If you can double-switch and be able to go two innings, multiple innings. And the back end of your bullpen. And where does the opposing lineup fall in the ninth inning. And today it fell where the big boys were coming up.”

Kimbrel (1-1) gave up a leadoff single to Ike Davis in the ninth, then struck out Lucas Duda and pinch-hitter Kelly Shoppach before inducing an Andre Torres groundout. Gonzalez didn’t want to bring him back for the 10th inning because it was Kimbrel’s fourth appearance in five days, including the 25-pitch, four-out save.

“It was one of those situations, [pitching coach Roger McDowell] and I talked it over,” Gonzalez said of using Kimbrel in the ninth. “They’ve got Davis and Duda coming up, and really you feel comfortable – it’s first time I’ve done it, bringing the closer in a tie game on the road – but you feel with the way our pitching matched up later in the game, that that was the game right there.”

Moylan gave up a leadoff single and a two-out walk in the ninth before David Wright popped out to end the game. Being called upon in the save situation was a rewarding feeling for the Aussie sidearmer, who had a difficult surgery rehab and had pitched in four games since being added to the roster Sept. 1.

“It’s a fantastic feeling, but it’s one thing to be trusted and another thing to go out there and do it,” he said. “It was really good to be out there and get the job done.”

Braves starter Tommy Hanson allowed four hits, two runs and one walk with five strikeouts in 5-2/3 innings, and was pulled after 70 pitches when he gave up consecutive doubles to Daniel Murphy and Wright that brought in the tying run.

“If we’re not playing September baseball you let him pitch through that sixth,” Gonzalez said. “But he did a nice job, he really did.”

McCann led off the sixth inning with a long home run over the right-center fence to put the Braves ahead 2-1. It was his 20th homer this season and second in as many days. After hit .155 with no extra-base hits and two RBIs in 24 games from Aug. 1 through Friday, McCann went 4-for-5 on Saturday with a two-run double and two-run homer, then drove in two of the Braves’ three runs Sunday.

Hanson retired the first 10 batters he faced, including two strikeouts in the first inning and two in the second.

“He pitched great,” McCann said. “It’s just one of those things, if it’s in April he probably gets into the seventh or eighth.  But it’s late in the season, we’re going to play matchups. That’s kind of where he was at today…. He bounced his [curveball] when he needed to, got ahead, pounded the zone with all four pitches. When Tommy does that, he wins ballgames.”

The first Met to reach base was Murphy on a one-out double in the fourth inning. Murphy scored on Davis’ two-out infield single that Uggla couldn’t field cleanly on the back edge of the infield, giving the Mets a 1-0 lead.

“My fastball command [was good], I was putting it exactly where I wanted it,” Hanson said. “I threw a lot of strikes and didn’t throw a lot of pitches, then kind of got in trouble towards the end there. But I still feel like I made good pitches. Overall I’m happy with it.”

The Braves came back with a run in the fifth after Jose Constanza led off with what initially looked like a triple, but was changed to a ground-rule double after the umpires met and determined that a fan had interfered with the ball when it bounced at the fence.

The speedy Constanza was sent back to second base, and scored one out later on Michael Bourn’s single to center.

51 comments Add your comment

John Lenin

September 9th, 2012
6:19 pm

I have to admit I’m liking Fredi’s decision-making lately. Hopefully he continues to take some chances and the Braves will win the WS…we’ll see.

Ken Stallings

September 9th, 2012
6:21 pm

Fredi Gonzalez deserves credit for having his finger on the pulse of his players. He made the announcement about benching Uggla, but then detected that Uggla had gotten his swing back and quietly put Uggla back at second base. Then, he saw how the bottom of the order was struggling and correctly saw how Prado at short could help add that extra offense to keep rallies going.

Given how Simmons has been tearing it up in his rehab assignment, things look to be going in the right direction for the Braves when he returns.

No. 1 Braves Fan

September 9th, 2012
6:29 pm

My hope is the Fredi bashers will, before their final judgment of his performance, take into account some of the good moves he has made this year. No he is not perfect, niether is he the worst manager in MLB like some or many of you have said.

DaveinNEPA

September 9th, 2012
6:30 pm

This offense functions so much better when there aren’t 4 automatic outs in the lineup every day. It’s good to see Uggla and McCann contributing again.

Although I wasn’t able to see the game today, it appears that Hanson pitched decently. Only 70 pitches though….anyone know why he didn’t go deeper into the game?

I would like to see this team finish strong this time around, not the way they did the last 3 seasons.

Alvin

September 9th, 2012
6:42 pm

DOB- Any idea if/when the Brewers will honor Chipper?

Larry

September 9th, 2012
7:06 pm

I’m not really Larry, but that coward hasn’t been around much lately so I’ll supply his normal rant.

Fredi is the worst manager in the league. Just because they’ve won a few games lately doesn’t mean Fredi has a clue. Even a blind squirrel finds a pork tenderloin sandwich once in a while. Fredi only cares about the lineup care (which I have on good authority is made out by Glen Hubbard) and the post-game buffet. He’s drawing paychecks for eating the food. That’s it. That’s all he does.

Back when I was playing, the manager was a hands on guy. He pitched BP, handed out bags of seeds, toted the water cooler to the dugout, etc… Fredi doesn’t do any of that. I’m surprised the Braves aren’t even worse than they are. I called it early and I’m sticking by it. The Braves are done. They have an overpaid under producing old goat at 3B and a know nothing do nothing manager. I’d like to help B-Mac with his swing, but Fredi doesn’t even respond to my emails and I actually do know what the trouble is.

You idiots that think that winning a few games makes a difference must be satisfied with not losing. It’s a shame. They could be so much more. I actually played the game so I know what I’m talking about.

74bravesjersey

September 9th, 2012
7:11 pm

No. 1 Braves Fan; I’ll give an account for fredi, I fess up to bein’ critical of em’, & truely out of frustration, hope’n his decisions have been better productive, but for awhile there, seem like the struggles & last sept. collapse was nhard to swallow. For awhile when things weren’t going to good, all the cap tippin’ to the other team just got stale. But I’;m pretty tickled about the team right now, hope they keep it up to a world championship, then I’ll help & raise the fredi statue out at turner field. As long as they keep winning fredi, overtake the nats, yep, you got a new found supporter, Go Bravos!

74bravesjersey

September 9th, 2012
7:15 pm

Hey man this is cool, All the ATL teams winner’s this past weekend, nat’s lose today, saints lose at home today, yep, da’ Dawgs big win last night, Tech won against a church school, still it’s a win, all that is perty Awesome me tinks.

David Harris

September 9th, 2012
7:49 pm

I was at the Braves – Giants series at AT&T Park 2 weeks ago. I witnessed Fredi pitch batting practice.

lombardi

September 9th, 2012
8:17 pm

I’m thinking that Fredi, like any major league level coach in any division, deserves some time to get a pulse on the team he’s inherited. Is he “the man”? Don’t know. But overall, all teams and personnel considered, this year he’s done OK by this 50 year fan, (NOTE, not 50 year old fan, but 50 year fan :)

dave

September 9th, 2012
8:26 pm

@Larry September 9th, 2012 7:06 pm
I agree, Chipper should have retired years ago. You can’t get a good team without good players and the good ones think they need to make more money than they will ever be able to spend in a 100 years. It’s just sick selfish greed.

Blaze

September 9th, 2012
8:39 pm

I have not praised or bashed Fredi this year. I would like to praise him for how he has handled the bullpen this year. He has also shown some guts for benching Ugla. It has seemed to waken him up, too. I’m not a big fan of his post game remarks, but his coaching has to be commended. Well done, Fredi.

Diamond Dawg

September 9th, 2012
8:46 pm

Dave, You are a complete dumb arse. Chipper is having a great year and is the leader of this team. Have some respect you moron!

B

September 9th, 2012
9:08 pm

I didn’t get to watch the games this weekend, but did the Mets do anything to give Chipper a farewell? Every team this year has done something, but I didn’t hear the Mets doing anything…?

No. 1 Braves Fan

September 9th, 2012
9:09 pm

dave: “chipper should have retired years ago”…..
Do you think it should have been before he won the NL batting title in
2008/2009 (not sure which)?

Pale Rider

September 9th, 2012
9:09 pm

Why is it “guts” when a manager benches the worst hitter in Major League Baseball?

crm300

September 9th, 2012
9:10 pm

You Chipper bashers are basement dwelling losers. Chipper could have made much more money in free agency but he was loyal to his Atlanta fans. For that, he deserves some respect. He is underpaid in today’s market. You don’t give him any credit for all he has meant to this team for all of these years. Don’t disparage Chipper’s success because you have never had any. Show some loyalty to this team yourselves.

Gray Mule

September 9th, 2012
9:23 pm

Falcons win
Braves win
Dream win

Tech & Dawgs win

Yep. We’re good

So?

September 9th, 2012
9:24 pm

All the “bad guys” have looked pretty darned hood lately; FG, mccann and uggla. How did they they get better so quickly? Oh maybe its baseball which has lots of ups and downs in a season

The Brave Californian

September 9th, 2012
9:44 pm

Swat the Gnats!

PaulG

September 9th, 2012
9:56 pm

Lobosolo…where are you when someone impersonating your buddy Larry the legend satirizes his integrity?…. I want you to reassure the real Larry that we all love him

ijudgenot

September 9th, 2012
10:02 pm

Have to give Fredi credit today with the Kimbrel move. Now that is what a manager does. Thinking ahead to the next inning and making a move to put your team in the best position to win. If Kimbrel had had an off inning or Moylan had failed to close then Fredi would have been blamed, but that’s what a good manager does.. He is willing to take the chance.

DonofAcworth

September 9th, 2012
10:34 pm

When things are smelling good for Atlanta I always wonder just what is going on. As the Mule stated everyone won…. did the hex person leave town or die or something? Well,
let’s accept the goodies cause they can turn smelling at a moments notice but hey… we
will take all the goodies we can get! Best Atlanta weekend in sports ever! Maybe?

James

September 10th, 2012
12:08 am

I think FG is coming into his own as a manager–Or he is desperate. Either way, he is being assertive, and I like seeing that. If it doesn’t pay off this year, I think he deserves a few more years to make it happen. I think two players illustrate the attitude I want to see from the Braves in coming years: Martin Prado and Medlen. Hardworking, humble, proud, flexible, and professional. The way they have quietly (and effectively) done anything asked of them makes me feel good about professional sports in a time when many athletes come off as melodramatic and overpaid.

[...] Braves pull out the stops to complete sweep of Mets [...]

Carl Farvman

September 10th, 2012
8:21 am

We should unload Medlin and Kimbral at the trading deadline; perhaps Chipper, as well.

AL

September 10th, 2012
8:35 am

They should only use Kimbrel in save situations. Gonzalez was lucky they scored in the 10th to make it look lile a good situation.

bucky oneil

September 10th, 2012
8:44 am

Larry
September 9th, 2012
7:06 pm

ROTFL

Tami

September 10th, 2012
9:07 am

Good comment, Ken Stallings. It seems that the only noise out of the deal with Uggla was with Uggla himself. Fredi did a good job by not calling him out in public. That sort of thing needs to stay in the clubhouse. The last thing a team wants to do is to signal to their league rivals that trouble is brewing in-house. That gives the rival a competitive edge…or could.

I can hardly wait for Andrelton to get back in there, as much as I like Janish. What having BOTH SS’s does for the Braves is give them some actual depth at a critical position. And hopefully, it gives Fredi more late-inning defensive options. It also gives Fredi the advantage of quietly resting players without weakening the team as they go down the stretch. The Braves could be setting themselves up nicely going into the playoffs. Things are starting to get really fun now!

splendid splinter

September 10th, 2012
9:42 am

Does any body know when the last time the Braves swept a weekend series, the Facons won, Tech won and UGA won – all on the same weekend? I think it was late 90’s when Glavine, Maddox and Smoltz were still with the Braves.

Ken Silvers

September 10th, 2012
10:03 am

A decision that paid off, and I ain”t saying it was right and everyone thinks Fredi is coming around. A little too late for me. I think he should have been fired after last year. The man is not aggressive. Hit and run, steal more often. How about arguing a call for your players? The man is so scared of losing a dime, he is scared to get ejected. I was a Fredi fan too at first, but anyone who knows the game knows Fredi is not playing it right., he’s star struck and scared. How about Leo or even Smoltz. I saw Smoltz throw an umpire out of a game. Leo Mazzone is way smarter about the game than Fredi. Come on! Can I get a witness?!?!?!

Felix Millan

September 10th, 2012
10:08 am

Brain surgeon Larry— your “good authority” sold you a bill of goods. Glen Hubbard is not making out the line ups, unless he’s faxing them in, because he’s no longer with the team.

RBrave

September 10th, 2012
10:11 am

Why isn’t Reed Johnson playing everyday ? They say we need offense and pulled Janish as a starter, thats O.K , but I’d play Johnson until that .300 average of his goes down to where the rest of the starters are, what’s that around .265 ?

MiamiDave

September 10th, 2012
10:14 am

only 30 comments so far… everybody must have been watching the Falcons… anyway just want to give a shout to the fake “Larry” and Dave… You guys have no idea about baseball; all you want to do is let out some frustration at someone who doesn’t read this stuff… If you ever want credibility on a blog, don’t cite a “credible authority,” unless you are willing to give a name. I can say a credible authority told me that you are both jerks. Sad thing is both of your writings say it’s true…

Yogi Berra

September 10th, 2012
10:53 am

Good game Braves..time Fredi started taking his coaches advice. It just might save his job. Just keep up the good job and everything else will work.

same ole negative dumbazz comments

September 10th, 2012
11:01 am

Ken Slivers @10:03am……….I agree with you 100%.

same ole negative dumbazz comments

September 10th, 2012
11:08 am

[...] Braves pull out the stops to complete sweep of Mets [...]

jim

September 10th, 2012
11:23 am

Curious why Simmons was the DH in the A+ league game yesterday. Wasn’t the extended rehab to get his legs in playing shape? Does the fact that he didn’t play in the field mean his return is still a couple of days off? Fredi seems to be getting comfortable with Prado at SS. Any word from DOB on whether Simmons is with the team in Milwaukee?

Tumbledown

September 10th, 2012
11:26 am

Good job, Fake Larry. You even got some gullible folks to take your post seriously. I like it!

reckingball

September 10th, 2012
11:29 am

Tami @9:07………I think that Uggla handled himself pretty good, in the benching situation.
He said he didn’t agree with it(when asked by reporters), and was disappointed that he was not playing.
He also said that it was the managers decision.
He didn’t bring a lot of negativity into the clubhouse about it.

I don’t think that I would want a player on the team, that was not disapointed about being benched.

reckingball

September 10th, 2012
11:35 am

More than likely, the Braves are satisfied that Simmons can field his position.
Probably DHed so he could get the ABs, and help that team win the league championship.
I think that I heard, he might be in the starting lineup, in 1st game of the Brewers series.
go braves

David O'Brien

September 10th, 2012
11:41 am

Curious why Simmons was the DH in the A+ league game yesterday. Wasn’t the extended rehab to get his legs in playing shape? Does the fact that he didn’t play in the field mean his return is still a couple of days off? — Jim

Nope, he’s expected to be in the lineup tonight in Milwaukee.

Bruno Brigadoon

September 10th, 2012
11:56 am

Tom in ATL

September 10th, 2012
12:29 pm

Amazing that now that Braves are winning – the manager suddenly got smart. Will you people wake up and realize Fredi is doing a great job. The Braves lost their #1 pitcher early (Beachy) – had their 60 million dollar 2B forget how to hit for most of the season, have no discernable SS, have a 40 year old 3B who is on his last legs – have virtually no stars or superstars – went through an August swoon – and has them right back at 21 games over .500. Bashing the manager is as old as baseball itself – but Fredi is doing all he can with what he has.

Felix

September 10th, 2012
12:56 pm

Good news. Fredi is starting to really manage games, not just go by the “book” or do what’s safe or what will result in the least criticism. A coach is paid to manage, make real time decisions and adjustments based on circumstances. He is not paid to be a robot. The Kimbrel move was the right one and a gutsy one. I am sure it gained him more respect from his players.

Now if he would just start chewing out umps more.

reckingball

September 10th, 2012
1:00 pm

I think that Fredi has a very good team to work with.
Not a decrepided gang of F-Troopers, as Tom describes.
Chipper Jones is not a super-star? haha.
go braves

reckingball

September 10th, 2012
1:06 pm

maybe that should be ‘decrepit’

Lion Heart

September 10th, 2012
1:19 pm

@Felix Milan – I think Fake Larry was joking around and used Glen Hubbard’s name on purpose because he OBVIOUSLY isn’t with the team anymore. It’s called satire, Einstein. Do you really believe he is criticizing Fredi for not “handing out bags of seeds”?

[...] did an astute job of explaining this in his game story from Sunday’s win in New York, but basically the way I see it, this time around Gonzalez has a) a better-rested [...]

74bravesjersey

September 10th, 2012
7:28 pm

Very good read James, good points.

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