Braves dump Phillies again, Chipper may be coming around

Chipper Jones, who walked in the first inning and scored on Troy Glaus's ninth home run, is starting to come out of his season-long slump. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones, left, who walked in the first inning and scored on Troy Glaus's homer in the rain Tuesday night, may finally be coming out of his season-long slump. (AP photo)

It was about a week ago when Chipper Jones, mired in the worst start of his career, which followed one of the worst seasons of his career, phoned home.

Why? For advice. For support. Maybe just to hear the voice of his mother, figuring she wouldn’t say, “I just wrote a blog telling Bobby Cox to drop my good-for-nothing, .225-hitting son to eighth in the batting order, behind Melky.”

Actually, Lynne Jones didn’t say that. But she did make a suggestion.

“She said, ‘You need to bite the head off of a chicken,’” Jones said Tuesday.

No. Seriously?

“Yeah. My mom’s funny like that.”

These are things Jones can laugh about now. But another bad week or two and he might’ve been on PETA’s hit list.

The Braves have turned things around. They defeated Philadelphia for the second consecutive game Tuesday night, 7-3. They have gone from the novelty of being in first-place to start June (first time in five years) to holding a 1 1/2-game lead. They go into the series finale with a seven-game winning streak and a 22-8 record since a nine-game losing streak.

“What we’ve done in the last two to three weeks, it’s a testament to the character of this team,” said pitcher Tim Hudson, who allowed two runs in six innings, his ninth “quality” start in 11 outings. “We’re showing people what this team is all about.”

How did this happen? Several reasons. For starters, Troy Glaus morphed into Harmon Killebrew (he homered again Tuesday). Martin Prado and Jason Heyward did things that made up for what Jones, Brian McCann and Yunel Escobar weren’t doing. And starting pitching has been solid for the most part (starting with Hudson).

But if the Braves are looking for a positive sign about the immediate future, it might be this: the beginning of a turnaround by Chipper Jones. He is this team’s leader. He is the player who has had more big-game moments for this franchise than anybody else on the roster.

Once you get past the debate of whether Jones is breaking down or should be dropped in the order or even out of the lineup (not the suggestion here), this much seems clear: Pulling off a postseason run becomes infinitely more difficult without a productive Jones.

As recently as last Wednesday, Jones was hitting .219 with two homers. But he was 8-for-16 with four walks and seven RBIs in the past five games entering Tuesday. His contribution in this game was minimal — a first-inning walk that preceded Troy Glaus’s three-run homer. But it was Jones who opened this series with a bang: a two-run homer to jump-start the Braves to a 9-3 win.

“Big players show up for big games,” Eric Hinske said. “He set the tone.”

Jones admits the obvious: He was pressing.

“I’m expected to produce,” he said. “I wasn’t doing my part, and I was feeling kind of left out.”

He met with manager Bobby Cox to address the possibility of dropping in the batting order. “The last thing I wanted him to do was try to protect my feelings. If he felt the kid [Heyward] was best suited to hit there at that particular time, do it. Bobby said he thought things would turn around for me, and that’s about the time they did.”

Jones changed how he sets up at the plate. (Technical stuff: He was tucking his shoulder too much, which didn’t allow him to get his hands out quick enough on the swing.) But a little stress relief also helped.

No. He didn’t off a chicken. But he jokingly threatened to punch Hinske.

“One day he told me, ‘If I don’t get a hit today, I’m going to punch you in the face after the game,’” Hinske said, laughing. “I said, ‘Come on — please get a hit.’ And he did, in his first at-bat. He ran to first base and then looked back in the dugout at me.”

Jones: “Every once in a while I have to have something that motivates me. It started with [Peter] Moylan. He came up to me last year and said, ‘If you don’t get two hits tonight, I’m going to punch you in the face.’ I got three.”

Maybe he should just keep that going.

“I have,” Jones said. “I tell him every day now that I’m going to punch him.”

A relief to all chickens.

Recent posts

We’re LIVE as Braves go for two straight over Philly

NFL’s Kirwan says three Falcons poised for breakout season

Countdown messes: Calipari, ‘Toine and Facepaint Guy

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

55 comments Add your comment

kurula

June 1st, 2010
11:36 pm

nice article jeff. i think this team will do some special things when they all start to hit. looks like they are all (save for mclouth) coming around.

ASN

June 1st, 2010
11:43 pm

Great win tonight. Can’t wait to see if Lowe can pull off the sweep tomorrow.

Reid Adair

June 1st, 2010
11:44 pm

I think the pitching (other than Kenshin Kawakami overall and Jonny Venters’ implosion in the ninth tonight) will be fine. The key will be if the offense can keep it up. Another month with numbers like April – especially against teams other than “bottom feeders” – would be difficult to overcome.

I have been very impressed with Tim Hudson. Many said he shouldn’t have been brought back. I think he has proven otherwise.

wawel78

June 1st, 2010
11:46 pm

is Wren responsible for Chipper being in Atlanta gone? FIRE FRANK WREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wawel78

June 1st, 2010
11:47 pm

oops, that would’ve made sense except that I’m a couple of bottles of wine into the night!

Herschel Talker

June 1st, 2010
11:48 pm

Schultzie for President!!!!

wawel78

June 1st, 2010
11:48 pm

Prado sux, Heyward sux, Jones sux, Glaus sux, McCann sux, Escobar sux, Hinske sux, Mclouth – he’s dreamy. Blow em up!!!

Herschel Talker

June 1st, 2010
11:49 pm

wawel78 likes men

DaveinNEPA

June 2nd, 2010
12:03 am

I’m not usually much of a supporter of moves that Bobby Cox makes, but IMO his decision to keep Hudson in the game after the rain delay was a big key to the Braves winning tonight. The Braves bullpen wasn’t overused or overworked tonight and should be pretty fresh for tomorrow.

On the other side of the coin, Charlie Manuel pretty much trashed his pen. He’s going to be very hard pressed to find somebody able to give him some efective innings tomorrow. They have Kyle Kendrick going, their weakest starter who isn’t usually noted for going deep into games.

I think the Braves should sweep this series.

Jeff Schultz

June 2nd, 2010
12:21 am

Thanks Kurula — Of all the guys who started the season with slumps, McLouth is the one I had the least confidence in coming back.

Jeff Schultz

June 2nd, 2010
12:22 am

Reid Adair — Hudson was a question, but the bigger question was what they could get for Vasquez in trade (and obviously not as much as most expected). But Huddy has been terrific.

Jeff Schultz

June 2nd, 2010
12:23 am

Herschel Talker — Thanks. Can I skip the White House and just go straight to the pension plan?

Jeff Schultz

June 2nd, 2010
12:23 am

Wawel78 — If nothing else, you add balance.

Herschel Talker

June 2nd, 2010
12:31 am

Schultzie – sounds like you want to be like all politicians. Are any of them worth a flip these days?

Schultzie – slightly off topic, but I posed this question to Mark Bradley the other day. What the heck is the deal with McLouth? MB says that he thinks the Pirates thought he was in decline and were eager to get rid of him. I can buy that, but I can’t buy that they thought it would come to this. He hasn’t merely declined; he’s fallen off a cliff. How much of this do you think is attributable to Pendleton not coaching him up, how much is attributable to being off of some kind of juice, and how much is attributable to some other factor? The guy has become a complete train wreck.

ScoutDawg

June 2nd, 2010
12:45 am

I dare the Bravos “Chipper” to get hot.

IlliniBrave

June 2nd, 2010
1:10 am

So Jeff – are you “a true believer” yet? [note reference to Eric Hoffer's essay on fanaticism]

B/c, as I recall, and boy I certainly could be mistaken, just a couple weeks ago you were all but certain that this Braves team was going nowhere.

Everyone’s entitled to be wrong and/or change their mind. So where do you stand now?

tyler

June 2nd, 2010
1:23 am

Schultz- I’m gonna punch you in the face if the Braves don’t win tomorrow.

LuisG

June 2nd, 2010
1:26 am

Jeff, Chipper didn’t get a hit in this game. Did he punch Eric Hinske (who did get a big hit late in the game)?

Jamaaliver

June 2nd, 2010
1:43 am

Chipper’s been my favorite baseball player for more than a decade, I never knew he had a sense of humor.

richard nieh

June 2nd, 2010
2:54 am

I would rather seeing Chipper struggle early than struggle late. I think it is the right time for him to get hot now.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ReidAdair and Kirk Hollingsworth, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Braves dump Phillies again, Chipper may be coming around http://bit.ly/9c4JuF [...]

OldMonty

June 2nd, 2010
7:34 am

Jeff: Can you possibly hold back on criticizing the Vasquez trade until we see what we have with Arodz Vizcaino? It’s not like Vasquez is tearing up the American League in his own right. At worst, we might have another minor league piece to play around with for trades and at best we might have another starter for 10 years.

Man, if blogs were around in 1987, you would have been aggravated that the Braves handed the Tigers a division title for an unproven farm hand.

Tami

June 2nd, 2010
7:41 am

GREAT article! I needed a little comic relief this morning. LOL. The schedule for the next couple of weeks won’t be easy on them. But, if they maintain their composure and keep to the basics of the game as they have been, they’ll come out okay. Again…make a plea to the clubhouse attendants to not flip over the calendar to June. Keep May displayed until July 1st! :-)

Hooter Girl

June 2nd, 2010
7:42 am

Chipper needs more hot wings, not chicken heads. Come see me honey, and bring Troy, he is starting to grow on me.

NM

June 2nd, 2010
7:44 am

It’s been great.. But Hey Folks!! Its ONLY June!!!!!

chuck

June 2nd, 2010
8:03 am

Last I checked Chipper didn’t go to Hooters for the wings….

Shug

June 2nd, 2010
8:15 am

Give that man a urinalysis. It’s obvious ole Chip is back on the ‘roids.

Sonny Clusters

June 2nd, 2010
8:18 am

“Bite the Head off a Chicken” will never become a parfait. Don’t look for it as Blizzard of the Month, either.

Bite the Head off a Chicken.

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls to the Mets

June 2nd, 2010
8:19 am

30-22.. If we had won 2 or 3 of those 9 games (losing streak).. we would be in contenton for the best record in MLB (32-20 or 33-19). But than again maybe the Braves would not be in this position if they didnt go on that losing streak. I never gave up hope on them during/after their 9 game losing. I actually predicted they were going 12-5 but went 11-6 (Series begining with Astros and ending with Mets: 2 game series). Since 9 game losing streak they are 22-8

Let's Go

June 2nd, 2010
8:22 am

Hey Jeff, are you finally jumping on the band wagon now? Wasn’t it you that said “don’t get excited, the Braves were only beating bottom feeders”. The difference in this team from the last couple of years is the Bench. The reserves are so good that Bobby is able to tinker with lineup and play just about everyone which keeps people happy and gives players needed days off during the season.

Speaking of Nate McLouth, did anyone else notice last night that Bobby pinch-ran Blanco in the 8th and left him in to play CF instead Nate?

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls to the Mets

June 2nd, 2010
8:27 am

I think Nate needs a week off. Then start him and if he does not produce they need to put him back on the bench.

Infante/Hinske in Left
Blanco/Melky in Center but I think they might send Blanco back down once Diaz comes back

Braves Mom

June 2nd, 2010
8:28 am

A lot of teams would have never recovered from the 9 game losing streak, the no hitter being thrown against them, etc. Not a Bobby Cox team though. Hopefully they will continue like this, and send Bobby out w/ an appearance in the playoffs, he sure deserves it.

siskel_god

June 2nd, 2010
8:33 am

Jeff, if you don’t write a better article I’m going to punch you in the face

Sleuth

June 2nd, 2010
8:43 am

If we had won a couple of games in that 9 game slump, we’d be 3.5 up now.

Rory

June 2nd, 2010
8:48 am

Motivation? If your love of the game and the ridic money you get isn’t enough, then quit. Unbelievable how stupid these players are.

robdawg08

June 2nd, 2010
9:02 am

I think if the Braves go with an outfield of Hinske LF,Melky CF,Heyward RF they might fix the offense overall. Nate has got to be benched bottomline. I’m glad to see Escobar and Melky starting to hit. Maybe Chipper has found that power stroke ? McCann still off with the bat. I was wrong in many areas criticizing some players but I did it only because I was angry they weren’t playing better. I think we fans know a lot. We suggested on here Heyward start season in RF,Hinske go to LF,Medlen be SP,Prado hit leadoff and J-Hey 2nd (well 3rd actually).

Go Braves !

PMC

June 2nd, 2010
9:04 am

maybe he just needs more Jo boo? Very sporting of them to have sand bagged the entire month of april.

robdawg08

June 2nd, 2010
9:06 am

Why can’t McLouth go video tape footage of when he was a star with the Pirates and compare it to his hitting (stance,timing,etc.) today and see where he is going wrong and correct it ? You know, TP cannot be blamed or credited either way but he could analyze the video and offer some help.

Here's an idea

June 2nd, 2010
9:11 am

Trade McLouth to the Mets for Francoer.

FAIR WEATHER GO HOME

June 2nd, 2010
9:11 am

LOL! AND HERE WE GO! ALL THE HATERS ARE BACK AND BRAVES COUNTRY IS CHEERING ONCE MORE! THIS IS WHY ATLANTA SPORTS TEAMS WERE RANKED 2nd aS WORST CITY IN THE NATION! BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MANY F-ING FAIRWEATHER FANS!

BRAVES SUCK. BRAVES STINK. BOBBY SUCKS. GLAUS BLOWS. BLAH BLAH BLAH F-ING BLAH! THAT IS ALL I HAVE HEARD ON AJC BLOGS SINCE THE MIDDLE OF APRIL, NOW THE BRAVES PUT TOGETHER A STREAK AND ARE IN FIRST AND YOU THINK IT IS ACTUALLY OK TO COME BACK AND CHEER! i WOULD RATHER HAVE YOU NOT HERE YOU RU-TARDS!

I HOPE EVERYONE OF YOU FEEL ASHAMED AND KNOW YOUR NOT TRUE BLUE FANS! YALL SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND BTW FOR ALL THOSE WHO THINK I MAY BE FAIRWEATHER…. CHECK MY FACEBOOK STATUS FROM APRIL 4TH TO PRESENT… I HAVE BEEN AT EVERY HOME GAME “BELIEVING”

Herschel Talker

June 2nd, 2010
9:21 am

FAIR WEATHER GO HOME:

You, my friend, are a tool.

FAIR WEATHER GO HOME

June 2nd, 2010
9:29 am

SHUT UP HERSCHEL YOU AND SCHULTZIE ARE THE TWO BIGGEST FAIR WEATHER FANS IN ATLANTA… LICK MY TAINT YOU BAND WAGON JUMPERS…. WHO YOU GOING TO CHEER FOR NEXT WEEK?!?

[...] ♦ Braves dump Phillies again, Chipper may be coming around [...]

Joshua

June 2nd, 2010
9:39 am

No actually FAIR WEATHER GO HOME has a legitimate point. Some of us have believed in this team since last year and even before. Some of us have defended Frank Wren and Chipper Jones. Some of us knew Escobar was going to get rolling, and we said so time after time in the face of unending criticism from people who are supposed to be Braves fans but insist we need to fire Wren and Bobby and Chipper. Those of us who knew this team would be good deserve to make comments like FAIR WEATHER GO HOME has made. So actually Herchel, imo, you sir are the tool.

Joshua

June 2nd, 2010
9:41 am

Also I would like to point out an interview I saw on the CNNSI website where someone asked on of the staff writers what was wrong with the Phillies, and that writer said “well I think Charlie Manuel needs to rest his players a bit more, as they appear to be mentally exhausted.” So perhaps Bobby Cox knows infinitely more about how to win at baseball than all of his critics.

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls to the Mets

June 2nd, 2010
9:45 am

Herschel Talker : you are the tool

PMC

June 2nd, 2010
10:36 am

Fair Weather fans are the back bone of this team having money to spend. There really isn’t anything noble about supporting a sports team. Honestly in this town it’s mutual suffering for the lot of us. Many people simply don’t wake up living and dying with thier team but they will spend thier money when they are interested. Fair Weather fans should be embraced… because they are the ones that pull in the spending cash when it comes to signing draft picks, free agents and home grown talent. It’s not like the team is any better or worse for us caring anyway. Richer certainly… but they are professionals… the whims of crowds are fickle… but when it’s good everyone benifits.

It’s a lot more fun for everyone being in a full loud stadium. I take it however I can get it.

cricket

June 2nd, 2010
10:42 am

Thanks for the nice story

wawel78

June 2nd, 2010
10:46 am

ouch, my head hurts this morning. I’m looking for the fire frank wren guy. If Glaus keeps this up, he could well be the GM of the year.

As far as going to the games, maybe I’m just not a good fan. I prefer to keep my money in my pocket and watch the games on tv.

Herschel Talker

June 2nd, 2010
10:48 am

Trade Nate for a Bag of Balls to the Mets:

I bet you’re a Booby Cox fan. You, my friend, are a fool.