May 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (24) is greeted at the dugout after he hit a game tying home run against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Twins 5-4 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Braves News 5/23


Sports Illustrated

Gattis grand slam leads Braves past Twins 8-3

May 21, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) shakes hands with catcher Evan Gattis (24) after he delivered the game winning hit against the Minnesota Twins during the tenth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Twins 5-4 in ten innings. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Evan Gattis no longer seems amazed by his improbable rookie season.

Yet, there are still times when it’s a bit of an adjustment for the Atlanta Braves catcher.

Like when someone recognizes him in the grocery store.

“It’s a little weird,” the 26-year-old Gattis said. “I’m not used to that yet.”

Gattis did it again Wednesday, hitting his first career grand slam. B.J. Upton and Ramiro Pena also homered for the Braves, who finished off a sweep of the woeful Minnesota Twins with an 8-3 rout.

The Braves stretched their winning streak to six games with a second straight series sweep, making things easy for starter Paul Maholm (6-4). The left-hander held the Twins to an unearned run in 7 1-3 innings.


Atlanta Bullpen

Braves Bomb Squad Dismantling Opponents

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez affectionately refers to his bench players as his “B-Squad” or “Bomb Squad” and after Tuesday night’s thrilling come from behind victory that finished close to midnight, he stated that they would be playing prominent roles in Wednesday’s early afternoon game, as starters received much deserved rest.

Bench players are usually the guys who are second tier players, not good enough to start, but Gonzalez’s bench guys have played well all season, in some cases better than the regulars.

While the Braves at times struggle to score, the Bomb Squad was once again up to the task Wednesday afternoon against the Twins, as catcher Evan Gattiscrashed a grand slam home run, shortstop Ramiro Pena went 2 for 5 with a homer, third baseman Chris Johnson raised his average to a team-leading .350 with a 2 for 3, and center fielder Jordan Schaferreached base three times with a hit and two walks.

Johnson talked about the Bomb Squad after the game, “We all know that every piece on this team is a big piece, especially in the National League.  Whether you are starting,or on the bench, you are going to get into the game and have to contribute at some point.  We have a good group of guys, everybody has a good head on their shoulders, and wants to compete every time they get in there.”

Who Replaces Eric O’Flaherty And Jordan Walden?

Before the season, it was generally understood that the Braves 2013 bullpen probably wasn’t going to be as good as the 2012 version, but I don’t think anyone expected this much of a difference. We came into the season with four quality late-inning relievers: Craig Kimbrel,Eric O’FlahertyJonny Venters, and Jordan Walden. Currently, the Braves have one.

While Walden’s injury isn’t as severe as the season-ending injuries that Venters and O’Flaherty experienced, he is still going to be on the disabled list until at least May 27th with shoulder inflammation. Hopefully, Walden and the team caught the injury early enough to prevent any serious damage to his shoulder. So, with three of those guys out, let’s look at the men in the pen (not named Kimbrel) that are going to have to step up their game.

The first two guys we are going to have to talk about are Cory Gearrin and Luis Avilan. These two guys are likely going to be splitting set-up duties depending on the situation at hand. Either that, or Fredi will label one guy as the “seventh inning man” and the other as the “eighth inning man”.



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