Three Cuts: Ex-ALers deliver, Braves take series from Jays

BY Cory McCartney • April 19, 2015

Jason Grilli put the finishing touches on the a successful trip to the Great White North, fanning Dalton Pompey on three pitches to give the Braves a 5-2 win over the Blue Jays and their closer a MLB-best six saves on the season.

Here are three thoughts from Atlanta's win Sunday in Toronto.

Over nine years in Baltimore, Nick Markakis became all too familiar with the Blue Jays.

He hit .294/.378/.437 against them in 664 plate appearances over 153 games and when it comes to playing in the Rogers Centre, Markakis boasted a .386 OBP along with a .292 average and .434 slugging percentage.

So it should come as no surprise that being back in Toronto, Markakis put together an impressive series.

The right fielder went 2 for 4 with a run scored, which came on the heels of going 1 for 2 with three walks in Saturday's loss and Friday, in which he was 4 for 5 with a walk three runs scored. That's seven hits in 11 at-bats with four walks and five runs.

But the setup for success went deeper than that. Entering his first season with the Braves, Markakis was a .333 hitter in 149 interleague games, a figure he pushed to .338, the best of any active player.

Only Mike Piazza, who hit .340 in 146 interleague games, ranks higher than Markakis all-time.

Markakis wasn't the only ex-American League East player to do some damage in Toronto. Jonny Gomes, who spent six years with the Rays and two with the Red Sox, supplied the biggest blows on Sunday with four RBI, including a three-run double. He had five in the series, including a pinch-hit homer on Friday.

Last season, the Braves managed just four hits from the designated hitter and hit a collective .108, the worst average of any team.

Three of those hits came via Ryan Doumit and one from Evan Gattis, and neither of them are on the roster.

The Braves broke out in Canada, with Markakis' aforementioned success playing its part as he went 1 for 2 Friday, while Chris Johnson (1 for 4) was in that spot on Saturday, but it was Freddie Freeman that supplied the biggest punch.

With Johnson manning first base in his absence in the field, Freeman was 2 for 3 with a double, and a walk and he turned in a piece of aggressive base running in going from second to third following a Johnson single that led to a Dalton Pompey throwing error.

In the series the Braves' designated hitters were a combined 4 for 9 (.444) with five walks and a .642 on-base percentage.

Unfortunately, they'll have to wait a month to build on those stats -- and chase the '07 team that hit .412 in interleague action -- as they won't see an AL team again until May 19 when they host the Rays.

Shelby Miller's first two appearances in a Braves uniform were solid, earning him a 1-0 record and a 0.90 ERA, but neither gave him a quality start.

He needed 97 pitches to get through five innings in his debut April 8 against the Marlins, then after a 39-minute rain delay on Monday vs. Miami, lasted 88 pitches and five frames.

He changed that in Toronto, dominating through five innings before he ran into trouble in the sixth. Miller walked Jose Bautista, then gave up a single to Edwin Encarnacion before Russell Martin drove them both in with a double.

The final blow there should come as no surprise. In 16 previous at-bats against Miller, Martin has five hits (.313) with three extra-base hits.

Now 2-0, Miller has a 1.69 ERA and 11:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 innings. He also continued a strong track record of backing up his run support and is 22-2 in his career when given at least three runs to work with.

Follow Cory McCartney on Twitter @coryjmccartney


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