Three Cuts: McCann, Medlen lead Braves sweep of Indians
ATLANTA -- Thursday night in Atlanta the Braves made a minor bit of history by sweeping the Cleveland Indians for the first time ever. The home team finished off the three-game series with a 3-1 victory at Turner Field on the strength of Kris Medlen's pitching and one swing of the bat by Brian McCann.
Here are three hits from the Thursday night win by the Braves:
Brian McCann waited patiently through two breaking balls in the third inning from Indians' starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The third pitch was a hanging slider that McCann golfed 10 rows deep into the right-field seats for his 19th homer of the year. He drove in Medlen, who had reached on a fielder's choice, and Justin Upton who had singled to center.
That turned out to be all the offense the Braves needed.
But the night didn't go by without one major scare. In the fifth inning, after going two-for-two with singles in the first and third innings, Upton couldn't get out of the way of an inside fastball from Jimenez. The ball struck Upton on the top of his left hand, sending up a collective gasp through the 22,000 fans at Turner Field. Jason Hayward, who suffered a broken jaw after being hit by a Jon Niese fastball on Aug. 21, looked at the floor of the dugout and shook his head as Upton leaned forward and tried in vain to remove his batting glove. Trainers rushed out. Even though Upton nodded and told everyone that he was fine, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez took no chances and sent Upton to the training room for X-rays.
"Hands are fragile and anytime you get hit on it you worry a little bit," Upton said in the clubhouse after the game, his hand wrapped in an ACE bandage.
In the top of the eighth word came back that Upton had a contusion on his left hand, but no breaks. The X-rays were negative. He is listed as day-to-day, although Gonzalez said he would probably hold him out of one game just as a precaution.
"He's probably going to be a little sore," Gonzalez said. "He'll need a little ice, but I'll take sore over the alternative." "You never want to get hit by a pitch in a fragile area," Upton said. "I didn't know (if it was broken). Obviously when you have adrenalin going you can do pretty much anything, so I just waited to see the pictures." Thankfully the pictures showed good news. "Just ice and Advil" Upton said of his treatment over the next couple of days.
He had what he termed "some loud outs early", but once Kris Medlen settled in, he put together seven solid, scoreless innings, giving up six hits and striking out six batters. He did it with a diet of steady breaking balls with a fastball or two thrown in for flavor. "Adding the curve ball in there to get them off of my change-up has been pretty big for me," Medlen said. "For them to be sitting on my change-up, to have the curve ball to give them another look and then to come in with my fastball, it's worked pretty well."
Medlen's record for the year is 11-12, but since July 28 he is 6-2 with an ERA for the year of 3.58. As Brian McCann said afterward, "There are a lot of clubs that would love to have a starter with the 3.58 ERA." A lot of Medlen's struggles earlier in the season were due to a lack of run support. When he has been given any lead at all he is 24-3. "He has been pitching decent for a while now," Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think sometimes expectations of the stuff he was doing from the year before, that was kind of a fantasy. The stuff he was running last year, for people (to) expect that this year, that wasn't realistic. He's been good. His command is good and he’s had some good outings." Medlen fell behind on a few batters in the first two innings, but after that he was ahead in the count for most of the night.
"Once I got through the lineup and saw that they were being pretty aggressive I jumped ahead with some breaking balls and change-ups to keep them off of my fastball," Medlen said.
The Indians got on the board in the eighth when David Carpenter let the fifth pitch he threw get away from him. Lonnie Chisenhall, pinch hitting for Jimenez, hit a solo homer to right, the first of his career as a pinch hitter.
Carpenter then walked a batter, bringing the potential tying run, Carlos Santana, to the plate. But Santana hit a soft grounder to Dan Uggla for the third out.
Craig Kimbrel closed out the ninth with three easy ground outs to first as the Braves improved their record to 81-52.
"Good pitching and good defense," Gonzalez said. "That's how you win games."
He doesn't have the batting prowess of Jason Heyward, but Jordan Schafer had the play of the night in right field on Thursday.
Scoreless in the second inning, Schafer robbed Michael Brantley of a double when he made a whirling throw from a couple of feet shy of the warning track. The ball hit Andrelton Simmons' glove in the only place it could for the out.
Then in the seventh, with two men on and two outs, Schafer scrambled to catch a hard-hit ball by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to end the inning.
"Jordan's one of those guys that can impact a game defensively," Gonzalez said. "He had a tough night at the plate (0-for-4) but he really did a nice job in the field."