Archive for September, 2012

Medlen gunning for record win streak Sunday; Bourn update

Kris Medlen gets a chance to make a little history Sunday. If the Braves beat the Mets and win his 23rd consecutive start, he will break a three-way tie he now shares with Carl Hubbell and Whitey Ford.

Medlen matched the feat reached by both Hubbell (1936-37) and Ford (1950, 1953 with two years of military service in between) when the Braves rallied to win his 22nd consecutive start Tuesday night and clinch a postseason berth in a 3-2 win over Miami.

“It’s awesome,” Medlen said of the streak. “It’s crazy, but any time you can get anywhere near some kind of record, it’s awesome. It’s what you strive for, especially with the couple of names up there too that I’m with. It’s already surreal, but obviously I don’t plan on it ending (Sunday). Hopefully keep it going.”

One of the keys to Medlen’s success in the rotation has been the development of his curveball. He’d been primarily a fastball/change-up pitcher but is now comfortable commanding his third …

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Freeman’s power surge comes at opportune time

Freddie Freeman picked a pretty good time for a power surge. The Braves first baseman had hit three home runs in six games heading into Saturday, including the walk-off shot that clinched a playoff berth for the Braves Tuesday night.

Freeman has a new career-high 23 home runs on the season, two more than he hit as a rookie last year. He also leads the Braves with 94 RBIs and could become the first Brave since Jeff Francoeur in 2007 to drive in 100 runs.

Francoeur drove in 105 runs in at age 23, his second full season in the majors. Freeman turned 23 on Sept. 12 and is in his second full season.

“I don’t consider myself a power hitter, I stay gap-to-gap,” Freeman said. “I guess I play at a position where I do need to hit some home runs, but my goal is to get hits, get on base, drive runs in when they’re on there, and if they do come by home runs, they come by home runs.”

The two-run shot he hit Tuesday night was the seventh game-ending home run to clinch a playoff …

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Auto-pilot to the postseason is not the way to go

Whether it’s the winner of next week’s Wild Card game or one of the other division champions, whatever team faces Washington in the division series should be feeling better about their chances of knocking off the Nats, who appear to be on auto pilot lately, playing lackluster “let’s rest the lineup” baseball for the past 2-1/2 weeks after playing like the league’s best team for most of the season.

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Chipper and the great Hank Aaron during Friday's pregame ceremony on Chipper Jones night. The Braves lost 3-1 to snap a five-game winning streak (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

While the other four projected NL postseason teams – the Braves, Cardinals, Reds and Giants – are all finishing strong, the Nats are 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA and 65 runs scored in their past 14 games, and have allowed five or more six times in that span including six or more runs three times in their past six games.

St. Louis is almost certainly going to face the Braves in Friday’s Wild Card game in …

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Chipper overwhelmed by fans, emotion on tribute night

By all accounts, Chipper Jones has a photographic memory when it comes to baseball. He can recall sequences from pitchers he’s faced years ago, pulling a 1-0 fastball here or a 2-2 slider there from the library in his head of more than 10,000 plate appearances during his 19-year career with the Braves.

He’s going to need those mythical memory skills to retain all that took place in his honor Friday night during the Braves tribute to their future Hall of Fame third baseman.

The scope of it might even have been a little much for the clutch-est of hitters, who has thrived on the ninth inning like no other Atlanta hitter.

“I was an emotional wreck all night,” Jones said. “It’s so overwhelming. And the support and the love in the ballpark tonight was just something that it’s hard to prepare yourself for.”

Jones took each and every swing with a sold-out crowd of 51,910 – the seventh largest in Turner Field history – on their feet, chanting “let’s go, …

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Chipper/Braves quotes after emotional tribute night

**CHIPPER JONES

On the night:

“I was an emotional wreck all night. It was overwhelming. It was tough to play effectively. I was a little too emotional to be able to go out there and play.”

On trying to prepare himself for what it’d be like:

“There’s no real way to prepare for that. It’s so overwhelming and the support and the love in the ballpark tonight was just something that it’s hard to prepare yourself for… I appreciate everything that was said and done and the innings and the games they’re whittling away and it’s starting to sink in so. I try to play this game on an even-keel but the emotion got the best of me….

On the first ball hit to him to open the game:

“I was talking to Huddy before the game. I said, ‘I’m an emotional wreck.’ I said, ‘Keep the ball away from me the first couple innings until I can settle down.’ The first pitch of the game is hit right to me so we got a good chuckle out of that. I can’t believe I got the throw over. …

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Duda HR spoils Chipper Night, Mets beat Braves 3-1

Four days after he hit the Shot Heard ‘Round Braves Country, Freddie Freeman hit a shot that looked like it might provide an appropriate outcome on Chipper Jones tribute night at Turner Field.

But after Freeman put the Braves ahead 1-0 on his fourth-inning homer, Lucas Duda hit a three-run homer off Tim Hudson in the seventh to send the New York Mets to a 3-1 win before a sellout crowd of 51,910, the largest of the season in Atlanta.

“Very rarely do you feel like just one pitch cost you the game, but tonight it was one pitch,” said Hudson (16-7), who gave up the homer with two out on a sinker with the count full, on the ninth pitch. “It’s frustrating, obviously. We lost the ballgame on that one pitch. If I throw that same pitch [again], he might pop it up. He just got the barrel to it and hit it over the fence.”

The Braves had their five-game winning streak snapped and wasted a chance to gain a game on National League East leader Washington, which trailed 9-1 …

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Teheran, Delgado could pitch finale; Bourn update

Unless the Braves are still playing for a division title Wednesday,  Tim Hudson could be scratched from his scheduled start in that day’s regular-season finale at Pittsburgh. Kris Medlen is set to start the Oct. 5 Wild Card game, and if the Braves advance Hudson would start Game 1 of the Division Series on Oct. 7.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Paul Maholm or Mike Minor would start Game 2.

Gonzalez said Hudson could get extra rest next week and rookies Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado could both pitch multiple innings in the finale against the Pirates.

“Maybe if we don’t have to use Huddy, then split it with the kids,” Gonzalez said. “Maybe you go with Teheran and Delgado, maybe throw [Ben] Sheets in there, give him a couple of innings.”

Sheets last pitched on Aug. 24, when he allowed nine hits and four runs in 4-1/3 innings at San Francisco. He went on the 15-day disabled list the next day and has been available (but unused) out of the bullpen since being …

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Cut hand doesn’t keep Uggla out of Braves lineup

When he found out that Dan Uggla had sliced open his hand during the Braves’ postgame celebration Tuesday, manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t bother asking Uggla if he could play the next day. He knew what the answer would be from the second baseman who’s built like a fireplug and takes pride in being as sturdy as one.

“I didn’t even ask Bubba [head trainer Jeff Porter] if he couldn’t play,” Gonzalez said. “I said I’m going to put him in the lineup. He said, ‘yeah, do it.’”

The manager recalled the July 24 incident at Miami when Uggla was hit by a fastball that smashed into the left earflap of his batting helmet.

“Remember that? I mean, pow!” Gonzalez said. “He didn’t even get knocked down. He went to first base. I went out and he said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, you got hit in the [bleeping] head. He said, ‘Don’t ever come out here like that again.’ He didn’t even go down. Some other guys would have been rolling …

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Chipper’s best player I ever covered, best I dealt with

Chipper Jones’ first full season in the majors was 1995, which was also my first as a major league beat writer. I covered the Marlins for The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel back then. So I saw plenty of the Braves’ Golden Boy, who made girls swoon and boys want to be him in every city in the National League. Damn kid had it all.

slideshow_579032_Chipper+1_15024He was young, a switch-hitter with power and a sweet swing from both sides. Able to run fast, despite the major knee surgery that sidelined him the entire previous season.

I was young and able to run all night too, closing down bars in every city, staggering home or back to my hotel, waking the next day to crank out stories and do it again. That had at least as much to do with the fact that this was the pre-blog, pre-Twitter era for newspapers and still a few years before we started posting stories on our papers’ websites during daylight. A beat writer could sleep it off till 10-11 a.m. with impunity.

Chipper’s Braves won 90 games in that …

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Braves quotes after sweeping Marlins

**FREDI GONZALEZ

On Hanson’s performance

“He did OK. He kept us in the ballgame. He kind of scattered the ball around a little bit command-wise, but he made some pitches when he had to and only gave up two runs. We were able to score some runs for him and shut it down there with our bullpen. So he did OK. That was, what, his 13th win of the year? That’s not too shabby. And Danny had a great night offensively, two hits, three RBIs — a big two RBIs there in the seventh inning for us not to use Kimbrel in the ninth. That was nice.”

On Uggla coming around at the right time after three-month slump

“Earlier this month we talked about if he got hot, he could carry us. That’s what we’re seeing from him right now. And there will be a time where he’s going to come up with a big hit, in the postseason or today he came up with a big hit to add on some runs, and he’s capable of doing that.”

On Braves taking advantage of a mistake

“The left fielder made a mistake a …

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