By Mark Bowman and Carlos Collazo
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- It took a fortunate hop, but the Braves found a way to conquer Max Scherzer, courtesy of a one-out, walk-off single that Cameron Maybin bounced over the third-base bag to conclude Thursday night's 2-1 win over the Nationals at Turner Field.
Scherzer entered the ninth having retired 10 straight batters, going back to Andrelton Simmons' fifth-inning RBI single. But the tide turned when Pedro Ciriaco opened the bottom of the ninth with an infield single. Two batters later, Maybin bounced his game-winning hit over the third-base bag and into left field. Against Washington manager Matt Williams' wishes, the umpires didn't review the play because it was a ruling that occurred in front of the bag.
ATLANTA -- Faced with the challenge of making his Major League debut against Max Scherzer on Thursday night at Turner Field, Manny Banuelos had no trouble maintaining his poise and showing why he was once one of baseball's top pitching prospects.
Everything seemed to be going better than Banuelos could have expected. But in the process of crafting an impressive debut that helped the Braves claim a 2-1 win over the Nationals, the 24-year-old left-hander was forced to make an unceremonious, sixth-inning exit because he started to be undone by cramps in his left calf and fingers.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
All-Star starters unveiled Sunday, full rosters Monday
Watch selection shows on ESPN; Final Vote to get underway Monday
By Mark Newman
It was historic because it happened exclusively online. It was personal because it decided the fate of your favorite players. It was intense because you argued a lot. And it was teamwork because you helped shatter a Major League Baseball record.
After 65 consecutive days of relentless fan voting to determine starting positions players for the 86th All-Star Game on July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the largest All-Star balloting program in sports closed at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday.
ATLANTA -- Cameron Maybin once again displayed his accountability and professionalism when he said that he was embarrassed that he had put his Braves teammates in a position where they nearly lost the opportunity to conquer Max Scherzer and the Nationals.
Maybin's inability to secure Bryce Harper's sharp liner to begin the seventh inning resulted in a double and led to a run that erased the possibility of Manny Banuelos earning a win in his Major League debut. But two innings later, the center fielder delivered the fortune-filled walk-off single that doomed Scherzer and provided the Braves a 2-1 win over the Nationals.
ATLANTA -- After spending the past couple of weeks dealing with pain and frustration, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has conceded that he has no choice but to rest his injured right wrist until after the All-Star break.
Freeman has been sidelined since June 18 with a bone bruise and aggravated ligaments in his right wrist. Though it has been assumed for more than a week that he would be sidelined through the break, it is still too early to pinpoint exactly when he will be healthy enough to return to the Braves' lineup.
ATLANTA -- When this year's international signing period began on Thursday, the Braves agreed to provide seven-figure signing bonuses to two players listed among MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects. They then began positioning themselves to be aggressive yet again on next year's international market.
The Braves added a little more than $1.1 million to their international bonus pool via three trades on Thursday. Cody Martin was sent to the A's in exchange for the 53rd international bonus pool slot, which was set at $388,400. A few hours later, Atlanta traded two Minor Leaguers (right-handed pitcher Caleb Dirks and outfielder Jordan Paroubeck) to the Dodgers for the 87th bonus pool slot, which is valued at $249,000. The Braves ended the flurry by sending Minor League pitcher Garrett Fulenchek to the Rays for the 73rd ($299,000) and 103rd spots ($195,200).
Power will be at a premium when the Phillies and Braves start their three-game set in Atlanta Friday.
The Braves and Phillies are the two teams with the fewest home runs in baseball with neither team cracking 50 through the end of June. Though it would be easy to assume that home field advantage will favor the Braves in the home run battle, Atlanta is tied with Kansas City for the fewest big flies hit at home this year.
ATLANTA -- The Nationals stayed on the field longer than most losing teams Thursday night, after the Braves' 2-1 walk-off victory in the series finale at Turner Field, but only because of a close call on Cameron Maybin's game-winning hit down the third-base line.
Maybin went down in the zone and connected with a low slider from Max Scherzer with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the ninth, driving the ball into the dirt just in front of home plate and then watched it bounce over Yunel Escobar and third base and land in foul territory past the bag.
Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Braves close to signing two top international prospects
By Jesse Sanchez
The Braves are on the verge of adding a pair of high-profile international prospects to their Minor League system.
According to industry sources, the Braves agreed to $1.4 million signing bonus with outfielder Cristian Pache, ranked No. 10 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list, and a $2 million bonus for infielder Derian Cruz, ranked No.24.
ATLANTA -- Through the first three starts of his career, Braves right-hander Matt Wisler has displayed his tremendous potential, experienced some inevitable growing pains and proven that it is not always wise to intentionally walk a batter to bring him to the plate.
Along with pitching effectively into the sixth inning of Wednesday night's 4-1 win over the Nationals at Turner Field, Wisler also notched his first career hit -- an RBI single off Doug Fister -- immediately after Eury Perez was intentionally walked with two outs during a four-run fourth inning.
ATLANTA -- After spending most of the past two weeks struggling to score runs without Freddie Freeman in their lineup, the Braves recorded back-to-back home runs and celebrated Matt Wisler's first career hit during the four-run fourth inning that propelled them to Wednesday night's 4-1 win over the Nationals.
"We haven't put a crooked number up in a while, and it was against a really, really tough pitcher in [Doug] Fister," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
ATLANTA -- Matt Wisler validated his status as a highly regarded pitching prospect and recorded his first career hit and RBI during a four-run fourth inning that propelled the Braves to Wednesday night's 4-1 win over the Nationals at Turner Field.
Wisler's two-out RBI single capped the fourth inning, which was highlighted by the back-to-back homers A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Uribe hit off Doug Fister. But most of the 22-year-old right-hander's most valuable contributions came in the process of limiting the Nationals to one hit, while recording six strikeouts and issuing five walks over 5 1/3 innings.
PHOENIX -- When John Smoltz is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 26, he will be the first pitcher to go in having undergone elbow ligament replacement surgery -- today almost universally known as Tommy John surgery -- at some point during his career.
And Smoltz may very well be the last for a while, unless the lefty John himself is elected by a Veteran's Committee.
ATLANTA -- Few can understand all that Jake Brigham has experienced while spending the past nine years toiling in the Minor Leagues. But those who were aware of his long journey had no choice but to be thrilled with what he accomplished as he completed three scoreless innings while making his Major League debut for the Braves during Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Nationals.
"This was more than I could have ever imagined," Brigham said. "I hate that we lost because I'm walking around with a smile. But it was amazing and just a thrill."
ATLANTA -- As Braves right-hander Shelby Miller has positioned himself to at least be considered as the National League's starting pitcher at this year's All-Star Game, he has relied heavily on a two-seam fastball that expanded his repertoire late last season and allowed him to begin using his curveball less frequently.
Thus, it was easy to understand why much of the frustration Miller expressed after allowing four first-inning runs in Tuesday night's 6-1 loss to the Nationals was aimed toward his choice to throw a curveball to Clint Robinson, who belted the breaking pitch over the right-field wall for a two-run homer that highlighted the unexpected opening frame.
ATLANTA -- It did not take the Nationals long to extend their dominance of the Braves and halt the struggles they have had against Shelby Miller. A four-run first inning provided Jordan Zimmermann more than enough support as he led Washington to a 6-1 win on Tuesday night at Turner Field.
While Miller surrendered a season-high five runs -- four earned -- over five innings, Zimmmermann scattered five hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. The Nationals right-hander pitched around A.J. Pierzynski's second-inning leadoff double on the way to extending his consecutive scoreless innings streak against the Braves to 15 2/3 innings.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Braves have one eye on present, two on future
Flurry of roster moves indicates desire to compete
By Mark Bowman
ATLANTA -- Though the Braves have spent this season's first three months living up to John Hart's description of not being "the prettiest girl at the dance," the countless acquisitions and roster moves the club's front office has made indicates that it is not willing to simply settle for routine disappointment this year, despite admittedly placing a greater focus on the future.
"I think we'll dance as hard as anybody and we won't sit out any songs," Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said, playing off the analogy provided by Hart, who became the club's president of baseball operations in October.
PITTSBURGH -- While Julio Teheran has created concern with the inconsistency he has displayed over the past few months, Alex Wood has spent the past six weeks proving he could make adjustments necessary to distance himself from his early-season struggles.
Still, none of the successful outings Wood has recently completed were any more impressive than the dominant one he fashioned while helping the Braves snap a five-game losing streak with Sunday afternoon's 2-1 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
PITTSBURGH -- Left-hander Alex Wood quieted the Pirates into the eighth inning on Sunday as the Braves downed Pittsburgh, 2-1, to snap a five-game losing streak.
Nick Markakis' RBI single in the fifth and Jace Peterson's solo homer in the seventh were all the help Wood needed to snap a three-decision losing streak. Wood allowed five hits in 7 1/3 innings, not issuing a walk while striking out eight. He allowed three runs or fewer for the 13th time in his 15 starts.
PITTSBURGH -- Right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett and joined the Braves' bullpen for Sunday afternoon's game. Subsequently, fellow reliever Sugar Ray Marimon, who has a 7.71 ERA in six appearances with Atlanta this year, will be optioned to Gwinnett.
This will be Kelly's first action in the big leagues after nine seasons in the Minors. After nearly a decade of working and waiting for "the call", he was excited to finally get it.
PITTSBURGH -- When runners are on, the task at hand is to score them. It's simple and straightforward, but difficult to do. Braves second baseman Jace Peterson happens to thrive in those situations, and, even though he was mired in an extended slump recently, the 25-year-old delivered when Atlanta needed a jolt of offensive life in Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh dealt with gray skies and rain all afternoon, but on the scoreboard, the Pirates looked to be in the clear with a five-run lead going into the top of the seventh.
PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez has only been along the ride for most of the first half of the season, but he may be ready to give the Pirates a lift. Alvarez's two-run double triggered a five-run first on Saturday and the Bucs went on to an 8-4 win over Atlanta at rain-soaked PNC Park.
Julio Teheran's road woes continued as the opening inning caved in on him shortly after he hit Andrew McCutchen the left elbow with a pitch, forcing the All-Star outfielder's removal from the game. Although he settled in to hold the Pirates to one additional run in his six-inning outing, Teheran's road ERA swelled to 7.40 (40 earned runs in 48 2/3 innings).
PITTSBURGH -- Before determining whether Julio Teheran still fits in their long-term plans, the Braves will be challenged to figure out if he's the guy who surrendered five first-inning runs during Saturday's 8-4 loss to the Pirates, or the one who allowed just one more run over the remainder of his six-inning effort.
"There's something there that we've got to fix," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've got to take care of it collectively. Julio has a big voice in this. When we get home and he throws his side [session] on Tuesday, we've got to sit down and figure out what needs to be addressed."
PITTSBURGH -- The Braves did not wait long to place Williams Perez on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left foot. Now, they simply need to decide who will assume his spot in the starting rotation for at least the next couple of weeks.
Manny Banuelos appears to be the most likely candidate to make what would have been Perez's next scheduled start on Thursday against the Nationals. Banuelos was scheduled to start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday. This puts him in line to make Thursday's start on regular rest.
WASHINGTON -- Less than a week after earning a promotion to Triple-A Gwinnett, right-handed pitcher Jake Brigham received the call he had been waiting for since beginning his professional career in 2006. After toiling at the Minor League level over the course of 10 different seasons, the 27-year-old finally finds himself in the Majors as the latest member of Atlanta's bullpen.
After placing Williams Perez on the disabled list on Saturday with a bruised left foot, the Braves purchased Brigham's contract from Gwinnett. Brigham will be targeted to serve as Atlanta's long reliever.