Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia Phillies’

After celebration, Chipper Jones admits he was ‘emotional wreck’

Chipper Jones acknowledges fans as he walks to plate for his first-inning at-bat. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Chipper Jones acknowledges fans as he walks to plate for his first-inning at-bat. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated: 11 p.m.)

The celebration Friday night wasn’t merely for a player and his career. It was for a player who in his final season had managed to will his team to one more postseason.

Imagine if the backdrop was similar to a year ago. Imagine if the Braves found themselves handing out gifts to a retiring legend before a game Friday night, mugging for cameras with forced smiles, knowing that when the ceremonies ended they would have to return to the reality of the standings, their fingers digging into the side of a cliff.

Imagine if Chipper Jones hadn’t ignited a city and a team on Sept. 2. He hit that walk-off, three-run homer against Philadelphia. It punctuating a five-run ninth inning that gave the Braves a miracle 8-7 win over the Phillies. It was like plugging a team into a light socket. The Braves had lost 10 of 14. They were on the verge of being swept at home by …

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Chipper Jones provides Braves with a needed miracle

Chipper Jones is greeted by teammates after his walkoff, three-run homer won it for Braves. (AP photo)

Chipper Jones is greeted by teammates after three-run homer won it for Braves. (AP photo)

(UPDATED: 9:45 p.m.)

They have given away bobbleheads of the old man. They have given away posters. I’m not sure what else the Braves can do to commemorate what Chipper Jones has meant to this franchise, except maybe provide a DVD of his ninth inning at-bat to the thousands of fans who weren’t around for the finish Sunday night.

What is it about these situations? Ninth inning. Men on base. Two outs. Not many athletes thrive when given an opportunity to turn desperation into miracle, but Jones is one and he proved it again. As he said earlier Sunday, “That’s just the mentality that I’ve always had. And that’s never going to stop. I don’t care if I’m 40 or 60.”

Staying with the age theme, Jones made 40 look like 20, just when the Braves were looking 60. He slammed a two-out, three-run homer off Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon to cap a five-run ninth inning, giving the Braves an …

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Gonzalez knows if Braves fizzle, he’ll be one to catch heat

Fredi Gonzalez knows criticism goes with the job, whether it's justified or not. (Hyosub Shin/AJC

Fredi Gonzalez knows criticism goes with his job, whether it's justified or not. (Hyosub Shin/AJC

(UPDATED: 11 p.m.)

One refreshing thing about Fredi Gonzalez, unlike so many in his position, is that he’s not going to try to project himself as someone who has all the answers.

He’ll listen to criticism. He’ll seek feedback from his Yoda-like predecessor, Bobby Cox. He’ll talk to former managers who are now long into retirement, and even managers on other teams. If ultimately Gonzalez fails as manager of the Braves, it won’t be because of ego, arrogance or obstinance.

“I talk to other managers all the time, people I respect,” Gonzalez said Friday. “Why not? I talk to them about dealing with different situations, dealing with crisis. But the bottom line, what most of them say, is you just have to be yourself. You have to be honest with players. You’re going to make decisions that are going to be second-guessed. That goes with the territory. But at the end of the day, you can’t …

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Braves win again, now hope fallback plan can carry them

Mike Minor pitched his fourth straight strong outing for Braves, giving rotation hope. (AP photo)

Mike Minor pitched his fourth consecutive strong outing for Braves, giving rotation hope. (AP photo)

(Updated: 9:35 p.m.)

When this season started, Ben Sheets was a youth-league coach in Louisiana and Kris Medlen had pitched 2 1/3 innings in 20 months, the byproduct of Tommy John surgery. They now comprise 40 percent of the Braves’ starting rotation.

So much for the blueprint.

The Braves made official Saturday what can best be described as the backup plan: Medlen, who has been impressive out of the bullpen, will return to the starting rotation Tuesday against Houston barring an unlikely turn of events (completing a trade for a starter). Medlen joins Sheets, who hadn’t pitched a game in two years before signing with the Braves and immediately becoming subject matter for a power point at the next AMA convention.

This is the rotation that likely will guide the Braves down the stretch. It’s not quite what anybody envisioned in the spring and may not be the ideal five to get the …

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Braves, Wren whiff on Greinke — and this is getting old

Zack Greinke is on his way to the Angels. (AP photo)

Zack Greinke: On his way to Angels. (AP)

Frank Wren is trying to swing a deal. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frank Wren: Looking for help. (Curtis Compton)

(UPDATED: 9:10 p.m.)

The first pitcher they went after (Ryan Dempster) said no. He prefers Los Angeles.

The second pitcher they went after (Zack Greinke) was traded to Los Angeles (no, not that L.A. team, the other L.A. team).

The Braves are trying to get better before Tuesday’s trade deadline. We think. But this journey is turning into some weird nightmare, or at least a Randy Newman retrospective. (“I Love L.A.!”)

Remember when the Braves used to get what they want? Remember when 90-plus-win seasons and playoff games seemed as plentiful as potato chips?

General manager Frank Wren said Friday night that he didn’t believe the Braves were close to a trade for a starting pitcher of significance. No kidding. I’m not sure how many are left.

When Wren was asked if he was balking at parting with a coveted prospect like Julio Teheran for a rental player like Greinke, he responded: “I really don’t …

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Braves have opening vs. Nats, but still need to make move

Frank Wren shouldn't let opportunity of this season slip away without a move. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frank Wren can't let this season's opportunity slip away without a move. (Curtis Compton)

(Second update: 11:35 p.m.)

John Smoltz looks at the Braves and sees what everybody else sees.

“They’ve made some adjustments offensively, but the inconsistency of their starting pitching has them where they are,” he said. “Win six, lose eight. Win five, lose four. They’re stuck in neutral.”

Neutral isn’t necessarily a bad place to be, particularly in the National League East. When baseball’s second half opened Friday, the Braves were only four games behind the Washington Nationals, which is better than being four games behind a team with an actual resume. The Nationals’ franchise last made the playoffs 31 years ago in a whole different language (Montreal).

There’s also this curious matter of Stephen Strasburg. Washington maintains it’s serious about this plan to limit its best starting pitcher (and his surgically repaired arm) to 160 innings. That could be construed as telling Nats …

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Braves’ progress won’t matter until they can beat Phillies

Michael Bourn was doubled off first to complete another Braves' series loss to Philadelphia. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Michael Bourn was doubled off first to end the Braves' loss to Philadelphia. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Once the confetti finally settled in the aftermath of the Braves’ four-hour, 11-inning, 28-run, 36-hit, is-that-really-Tim-Hudson-grabbing-a-bat marathon win over Philadelphia the night before, the Braves were left with one painful truth Thursday: The Phillies still own them.

This doesn’t mean the Braves won’t reach the postseason this year. It doesn’t even mean they can’t win the National League East Division. But Philadelphia didn’t leave town without reaffirming the pecking order.

We may see a blur of replays of Chipper Jones’ walk-off two-run blast that ended Game 2 of the series. We may remember the pyrotechnics of Wednesday’s 15-13 victory for several years. But it was the Phillies who bounced back to win Thursday’s game 4-0. That wrapped up yet another series win over the Braves — and ultimately, that’s really the big picture.

“Somebody said at the beginning of the series that …

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LIVE: Braves try to follow wild Game 2 with win over Phils

Chipper Jones mobbed by teammates after his game-winning homer on Wednesday. (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Chipper Jones was mobbed by teammates after his game-winning homer (Hyosub Shin/AJC)

Good morning. Did anybody go home?

I talked to a the elevator operator and few other stadium employees and they all look a little bleary-eyed. After Wednesday night’s crazy, E-ticket of a game — you know it’s special when 40-year-old Chipper Jones says it’s the greatest game he ever has been associated with — the Braves and Philadelphia have a short-turnaround today and close out their three-game series with a rare noon game at Turner Field.

Today’s game will have a lot of to live up to. The Braves won 15-13 Wednesday on Jones’ two-run, walk-off homer in the 11th inning.

To recap in Twitter-form: The Braves trailed 6-0, led 8-6, trailed 12-8, led 13-12 and were tied after nine innings. (I think that’s under 140 characters.) Braves highlights: Jones’ two-run homer, Brian McCann’s grand slam in a six-run fifth, Jason Heyward’s go-ahead, pinch-hit two-run single in the sixth, Martin Prado’s …

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Loss aside, these Braves look way ahead of last season

Chipper Jones sees something in these Braves that was absent in 2011. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Chipper Jones sees something in these Braves that was absent in 2011. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(Updated: 10:05 p.m.)

When the Braves started this season 0-4, a number of thoughts went through the minds of fans, not a single one of which was: “Do you realize that we could still go 158-4? That would be a record.”

But when the first month of the season ended Monday, the Braves were operating in relative bliss. (Well, bliss interrupted by the implausible wrecking ball of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but bliss nonetheless.) Until a 9-3 loss to the Pirates, they were 14-4 following that 0-4 hiccup, a nice place to be with the Philadelphia Phillies coming to town.

It’s not merely that the Braves suddenly found themselves winning games but that they were winning them in ways that suggested this stretch won’t be viewed as some aberration at season’s end.

That projection may seem just as knee-jerk as those who were panicking at 0-4. But consider the words of Chipper Jones when he …

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Wagner reminded Kimbrel to learn from last year’s ending

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has learned from his mentor, Billy Wagner. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has learned from his mentor, Billy Wagner. (Jason Getz/AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Having just watched the final out of the final loss of the final-month bloodletting that would crush the Braves’ season, Billy Wagner – retired, but a little sick over matters himself – picked up the phone in his rural Virginia home to call one of the team’s players. He figured Craig Kimbrel would be in need of some emotional counseling.

“It was right after the game,” Wagner said. “I was just going to leave him a voice message, but I was surprised when he actually answered. I think he was still in uniform. I just reminded him of the season he had. I told him what an honor it was for him just to be there. I said, ‘You went out there and it didn’t work out. But you got the greatest gift ever. So learn from it, go back out there next year and don’t beat yourself up.’ He’ll be fine.”

The Braves start playing games again Saturday, albeit a spring training weekend series …

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