Last week I said Paul Maholm was struggling with control but as a veteran he had time to work it out. He did work it out and it didn’t take long. He hasn’t allowed a run over his last 14 2/3 innings. In his last two starts the control issues were gone and today he allowed only two hits in his six innings with four walks and a strikeout. I have to point out that the Braves hurler was facing the Yankees B team, I only recognized Francisco Cervelli, Eduardo Nunez and Dan Johnson from their starting lineup so it certainly wasn’t their best. Take nothing away from Maholm, his last strikeout was the nastiest yellow hammer curve I’ve seen in a while and the poor Yankee minor leaguer had never seen one; his legs buckled and he could only stand and stare as it split the plate. The Braves offense was mostly limited to the middle of the order with only Reed Johnson and Tyler Pastornicky of the other starters managing a hit. Joey Terdoslavich came in to replace Chris Johnson in the 8th and singled as well.
Jason Heyward was 1-2 with two walks and a run scored. That run came in the fifth inning when Yankee right hander David Phelps provided his first walk. Heyward promptly stole second base then Justin Upton broke an 0-9 stretch by driving in Heyward with a single to right center. He showed some of the skills that make him a plus base runner when on the fruitless throw home trying to cut down Heyward, he not only took second but recognized that the high throw would be hard to handle and kept motoring ending up on third. He trotted home on the second monster home run from Juan Francisco is two days. If you missed that “JuanBomb” here’s the video. Even if you saw it another look is worthwhile.
J-Up finished the day 2-3 as did Francisco who made two superb backhanded plays at third and showed improved accuracy in that canon attached to his right shoulder. Roadrunner’s competition for the third base job Chris Johnson played first and went 0-3.
In case you missed Friday’s JuanBomb off the Mets here’s a look at it. That big yellow wall in right field is 40+ feet behind the outfield fence and this blast clears it easily.
Evan Gattis caught most of the game and made some really nice stops. He’s looking more like a Braves catcher of the future every day. He could be Gerald Laird’s backup until Brian McCann returns though I still expect him to spend most of the season at Gwinnett learning the craft.
That’s A Wrap
As we get closer to opening day the roster begins to become clear. The bench will consist of Reed Johnson, Chris Johnson, Ramiro Pena, the backup catcher (Gattis or Matt Pagnozzi to start with then Laird), and either Jordan Schafer or a LH bat yet to be obtained. Pena is a switch hitter on a major league contract and is out of options so he gets the vote over Rev as of today. If the LH bat is signed a trade will have to be made as Schafer is out of options as well and would not clear waivers. Even though it lacks LH power I’d start the season with that bench. Our lineup has enough LH power to take care of itself. What would your bench be?