Three Cuts: McCann-led Braves rally past Jays
Here are three things we learned from the Braves' hellacious 7-6 win over the Blue Jays, ensuring a split for the Toronto portion of this home-and-home, four-game series:
With top-notch reserves like Gattis, Jordan Schafer and Juan Francisco, the Braves' offense has enough power, speed and depth to handle a full American League schedule. But alas, Atlanta has only 10 outings in AL ballparks this season, allowing for only 10 chances to alternate McCann and Gattis at catcher and designated hitter.
What a bummer, especially since McCann (two homers — including the game-winner in the 10th inning) and Gattis (one homer) thrived in the Rogers Centre environment, crushing three no-doubt dingers against the Blue Jays.
For McCann, Tuesday's power surge represented the ninth multiple-homer game of his sterling career; for Gattis, it marked his 11th homer of the year ... bolstering his homer rate to 1/11.1 at-bats.
For comparison sake, Baltimore's Chris Davis — the MLB current homer leader (16) — has an HR rate of 1/11.0 at-bats.
For good measure, Schafer also launched a homer in the second inning, knotting the score at 4.
After viewing Maholm's shaky work in the first inning (five hits, four runs allowed, three straight doubles), you could have made a pretty penny in Vegas, negotiating odds the Braves starter would make it through six innings.
As the game wore on, though, Maholm settled into a comfort zone, keeping the Blue Jays relatively in check without the benefit of a classic 1-2-3 inning — although Toronto hit into an inning-ending double play in the 6th (minimum three batters).
Even Jose Bautista's fourth-inning solo blast had minimal impact, sandwiched amongst three pedestrian at-bats from Anthony Gose, Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion.
All in all, it shouldn't take Maholm long to forget about Tuesday's effort — for a few reasons:
**Andrelton Simmons (first error of the season) boots a ball as often as Halley's Comet comes to light.
**The Blue Jays (and the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre) aren't on the schedule after Thursday.
**Of his 11 starts, Maholm has surrendered three or less runs eight times.
**Maholm will likely make his next three starts against the Pirates, Padres and Mets. Cha-ching!
If Atlanta had never signed B.J. Upton (28 homers/31 steals last year with Tampa Bay) to a lucrative five-year contract over the winter ...
If general manager Frank Wren had never executed a blockbuster trade for Justin Upton (14 homers, 37 runs) in January, with Chris Johnson (.346 batting average) as a throw-in for all time ... perhaps Braves fans wouldn't be so hopeful about the club's pennant prospects.
Instead, today's batting order was a one-day respite from the Uptons and Johnson, a chance for the trio to rest for an eight-day, eight-game homestand against the Blue Jays, Nationals and Pirates.
It was also a one-day break from an everyday lineup that's full of youth, speed and versatility.
As for power ... apparently that comes standard with every lineup combination.