Fredi Gonzalez didn’t sound like the manager of the National League’s best team Friday night.
After his Atlanta Braves struck out 18 times in a 10-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers, Gonzalez’s postgame news conference lasted barely more than 10 seconds.
Anibal Sanchez registered 17 of the punchouts, setting a franchise record. But Gonzalez, who managed Sanchez from 2007 until 2010 with the Florida Marlins, said he had seen Sanchez throw that well before.
“He was pretty good, and we weren’t,” Gonzalez said of Friday night’s performance. “That’s about it, boys. That’s all I’ve got for you. You guys have a good one.”
With that, Gonzalez ended his remarks and left his hitters to account for their performance, leading into Saturday’s matchup against Rick Porcello (MLB on FOX, 12:35 p.m. ET).
In fitting with the increased tolerance for strikeouts among contemporary hitters, though, the Braves didn’t seem aghast at their performance. And that, in a way, was understandable: The Braves entered Friday with the best record in baseball despite striking out more than every NL team with the exception of Cincinnati.
Atlanta also leads the majors with 35 home runs. So perhaps strikeouts are the price for all that power.
Asked if he was alarmed by how many times his team struck out Friday, Atlanta center fielder B.J. Upton said, “If you ask me, an out’s an out, whether it’s a strikeout, groundout, flyout. An out’s an out. We’re not really worried about the strikeouts. We flush that and move on to tomorrow.
“Everybody harps on it that we’re a team that strikes out a lot. If you ask me, it’s about production. You play the game long enough, you’re going to strike out — some more than others. But it’s about producing and scoring runs. I think we do a pretty good job of that.”
Upton has a point: While the Braves are off to a fast start largely on the strength of their pitching, they ranked sixth among 15 NL teams in runs scored entering Friday.
So despite the high whiff rate, the Braves have an above-average offense.
“We’re going to put up runs,” said Dan Uggla, who went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts as his batting average sank to .174. “We’re not worried about strikeouts. We can strike out 18 times and hit two three-run bombs and win a game. You never want to see (18 strikeouts). Obviously it doesn’t happen too often.
“We take pride in being good hitters. We know we’re going to swing and miss sometimes, but we’re not going to dwell on it. That’s for sure. We’re going to come back and make the adjustment. We’re pissed off. We’re embarrassed. But that’s baseball. He pitched a great game. We’re going to tip our hat to him and come out swinging tomorrow.”