Three Cuts: More Gattis magic as Braves dump Twins in 10
MAY 22, 2013 12:43a ET
1. Gattis happened. Again
We've become all too accustomed to astounding feats when it comes to Evan Gattis, the Braves rookie/job-hopper extraordinaire/folk-hero-in-the-making. But this is getting ridiculous.
Three days after he came off the bench to hit a two-run home run against the Dodgers, El Oso Blanco was at it again, coming in with two outs in the ninth to hit a towering, solo home run to left field that pushed the game to extra innings.
Freddie Freeman would deliver decisive hit, scoring Jason Heyward on a soft fly off Brian Duensing in the 10th inning as Atlanta won its fifth straight. But it was Gattis' ninth homer of the season, and his third in five at-bats as a pinch-hitter, that kept the Braves alive.
"He's looking to do just one thing: put the ball in play," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's just so darn strong that even if he doesn't hit it right it goes out of the ballpark."
Facing hard-throwing Glen Perkins, Gattis was looking for something middle-in and he took the second pitch he saw, and connected on an 84-mph slider.
"With him, I was trying to think of the ways I can get myself out and try not to do that," Gattis said. "If I try to get long, if I try to do too much, that's an easy out for a guy that can really get in there. I reacted to the breaking stuff; wasn't looking for it, it just kind of happened."
Despite the situation, Gonzalez said he didn't rattle Gattis. It couldn't given all that he had gone through in a much-publicized four-year walkabout.
"God, he spent four years living in a van, I don't think a baseball game is going to faze him," Gonzalez said, laughing. "I think we keep forgetting that he's 26 years old and he's lived a lot of stuff."
When he returned to the dugout after that blast, Gonzalez said Gattis thanked him.
"For pinch-hitting you?" Gonzalez responded. "I would be crazy not to."
2. The bullpen did the Braves no favors
The state of Atlanta's bullpen would be an over-analyzed storyline if not for the fact that it's just too relevant.
Jonny Venters has already had Tommy John surgery; so has Eric O'Flaherty. Meanwhile, Jordan Walden is on the disabled list and he's going to need another bullpen session and minor league rehab starts before he's activated.
That puts even more pressure on the arms that bridge the gap between the starters and Craig Kimbrel, especially Tuesday when Tim Hudson went just five innings that was broken up by an hour and 15-minute rain delay.
While Anthony Varvaro worked scoreless sixth and seventh innings in relieving Hudson, Luis Avilan, who was appearing in his third consecutive game and seventh in the last 10, put runners on first and second before being pulled. Cory Gearrin stepped in, only to allow back-to-back RBI singles to Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit in the eighth as the Braves' 3-2 lead turned into a 4-3 deficit.
With a six-man bullpen, overuse is going to happen and considering the rain delay came in the third inning, it was a bonus for the middle relievers that they got two more inning out of Hudson. But in using David Carpenter in the ninth and Kimbrel in the 10th, Cory Rasmus was the only member of the slimmed-down pen that didn't see action, making it a performance that magnifies the biggest problem area with this team going forward.
3. B.J. shows signs of breaking out (or does he?)
With a single in the second inning and another in the fourth, B.J. Upton had his fifth multi-hit game of the season and the first since May 3 against the Mets. It was certainly a welcome sight for those waiting for a sign that the center fielder -- who is hitting .153 on the season -- is ready to bust out.
But it does come with a disclaimer, because it's not really anything new for Upton when it comes to the Twins.
In his eight years with the Rays, Upton had a .324 average vs. Minnesota, his highest against any American League team, with five home runs, seven doubles and 24 RBIs. So basically, he's always done this against this team.
It's also a night that plays into what Upton has done all season long, which is hit in bunches.
Those five multi-hit games have now been where he's produced 11 of his 22 hits on the season and just three times (April 13-14, April 20-21, May 3 and 5 and May 7 and 9) has Upton posted hits in back-to-back games.
But maybe Gonzalez has found a perfect spot for Upton to work himself out of his slump. In the past five games, Upton has hit out of the No. 8 spot four times, hitting .230. That's his highest average of any spot in the order by 18 points.
Upton could just be on the way to turning things around, but given Upton's success in this particular matchup, we'd be wise to hold off any judgment until the Braves are playing someone other than the Twins.
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