Those three power swings helped Atlanta post nine runs through four innings — giving the club a cushion it would never relinquish.
In the second inning, Johnson’s two-run homer briefly tied the game at 2. But the real talking point occurred when a Bleacher Bum in the Wrigley stands caught the long ball with his glove … and then pulled the old switcheroo on the Chicago faithful, stealthily trading Johnson’s ball with a regular one from his shorts pocket … before tossing the other ball back onto the playing field.
Then, two innings later, FOX Sports South’s own Tom Hart actually flagged him down for an in-game interview, where the longtime Cubs fan revealed that Johnson’s homer had become the 28th ball of his lifetime Wrigley Field collection.
Back to the game …
In the 3rd, B.J. Upton led off with a double to left field and scored a few minutes later, thanks to Andrelton Simmons’ RBI single.
That set the stage for the Braves’ six-run eruption in the 4th — a power-packed inning that included two homers (Johnson, Minor), five hits and brought 10 men to the plate. In fact, Minor’s blast off Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (nine runs allowed over 3.2 innings) and Justin Upton’s bases-clearing double (scoring B.J. Upton, Simmons, Freddie Freeman) both occurred with two outs.
Throw in a pair of insurance runs in the 9th — thanks to RBI singles from Justin Upton and Jason Heyward — and you have a well-earned victory for the Braves (51-43) that was equal parts taxing and academic.
In his postgame address, Minor was obviously thrilled to go deep at such a revered stadium. But he wasn’t necessarily shocked to accomplish the feat, either.
"Only (the 2013 homer against the Mets) surprised me, because I didn’t think I could hit the ball that far," said Minor.
Saturday marked Minor’s 99th career start in the majors; and of the previous 98 outings, Minor (six earned runs, 11 hits allowed vs. the Cubs) had never collected a "W" when surrendering double-digit hits.
"It was pretty much a slugfest for both teams," said Minor, who improved his seasonal mark to 3-5.
Here’s another quirky stat: Minor has already allowed 11 hits in four starts this year. Of his first four seasons in the majors (2010-13), the opposition had racked up 11 or more hits against Minor (five strikeouts, one walk, zero homers allowed) just once.
On Saturday, the tandem of David Hale (one inning) and David Carpenter (two-inning save) effectively shut the Cubs down, allowing zero runs and just one walk over three solid innings.
That one-day dominance runs in concert with the Braves’ sterling relief numbers since June 12: