Three Cuts: Braves cap Hall of Fame day with win over Padres
The Atlanta hitters had endured a pair of 1-2-3 innings early on before busting out for six runs in the 3rd, demoralizing a desultory San Diego team that now has a 13-loss pitcher (Eric Stults) and one of the least potent offenses in modern-day history.
Throw in an RBI single from Ryan Doumit — scoring Freeman and Johnson — and the Braves efficiently needed only 10 batters to get the 6-spot.
"(Laird) seems to come up big every time you play him," noted Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez about Laird, who currently holds a modest seven-game hit streak (dating back to June 29).
Gonzalez also broke out one of his favorite terms when discussing the Braves’ six-run eruption, simply saying they "were able to keep the line moving" — on a day when Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis earned a day of rest.
Either way, Laird’s just happy his team has some positive mojo before entering a grueling stretch of eight games on the West Coast (after Monday’s series finale) … followed up by a 10-game home stand of three first-place club (Nationals, Dodgers, Athletics from Aug. 8-17).
"It’s good to get hot at the right time," said Laird, who’s batting .360 during the hit streak.
As previously mentioned on Saturday, the anemic Padres (46-58) currently rank dead last in the following offensive categories: Runs, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS.
To wit, Sunday’s victory — while fun and productive for the Braves — was essentially a must-win venture for the enigmatic Minor, who had been saddled with a 7.86 ERA in five previous starts (June 26-June 22).
And the southpaw responded to the high-expectations challenge, scattering eight hits over 6.2 innings and only making two bad pitches on the day — solo homers to Yangervis Solarte (third inning) and Rene Rivera (6th).
"That’s the type of pitcher I am," says Minor, noting his propensity for giving up solo shots.
Before addressing the homers, Minor (six strikeouts, one walk) expressed a certain restrained jubilation for the victory — his fourth of the year.
"It felt good to get a win," said Minor. He then added: "Even if I give up four (runs), but go seven (innings), I feel that’s still a good game."
Gonzalez gushed over Minor’s consistent delivery and a breaking ball that improved as the game continued.
"His arm action and his delivery were there … 90 percent of the time," said Gonzalez. "(Minor) was able to command his fastball on each side of the plate, and that was because the delivery. It was better than a quality start."
The Padres curiously missed on a golden opportunity to score in the 1st:
All this begged the question: In a scoreless game in the first inning, would Johnson have even attempted a throw home, especially since he was on the same vertical throwing lane as Denorfia?
Given how pedestrian the Padres are on offense, it’s also fair to wonder if an early run might have changed the complexion of the game?
Oh well. What’s done is done.
**Until Sunday, I had never seen Greg Maddux (career: 355 wins, 3.16 ERA, four NL Cy Youngs, one World Series title) in a suit and tie; and now that he has the whole Cooperstown pomp and circumstance out of the way, it may be the last time he’ll be publicly obligated to dress so formally.
As for Maddux’s speech, it was quick, concise, respectful and appreciative — but not with a lot of extra flair. In other words, it was precisely the type of cool address you’d expect from a guy who loathed talking about himself for 23 major league seasons.
Cox then closed by mentioning a letter he had received from Campanis, congratulating him for reaching the majors — along with a bonus check of $2,500. And in the note, Campanis informed Cox he was fully aware of the "tipping pitches" system with the Dodgers scout.
**Tom Glavine has been the epitome of class and humility since breaking into the majors in the late 1980s … so why would anything be different for the most important speech of his professional career?
There were no tinges of remorse from that decision, although the podium allowed Glavine one tongue-in-cheek boast:
Since Glavine (two-time NL Cy Young, pitched the World Series-clinching Game 6 in 1995) was drafted ahead of future Hall of Famers Luc Robitallie and Brett Hull in the 1984 NHL Draft … "surely I would have been a Hall of Famer (in hockey), too."
It was a sincere, witty end to a picture-perfect day for the Braves.