Three Cuts: White Sox get to Maholm in pulling by Braves
Taking three cuts after the Braves' 10-6 loss to the White Sox in Chicago.
After two innings, Paul Maholm had allowed just one base runner, a positive sign considering he was 4-6 with a 5.23 ERA in his last 12 starts away from Turner Field.
Then the third inning happened.
Josh Phegley doubled, Brent Morel walked, then Alejandro De Aza singled to load the bases -- with no outs.
After Alexi Ramirez's RBI single and a towering grand slam by Alex Rios to left center, Atlanta's 4-0 lead turned into a one-run deficit.
The troubles continued for Maholm (9-9) in the fourth as he allowed a double and a single, before leaving with a strained left wrist.
Against the 11 batters Maholm faced after the second, he allowed six hits, including two doubles and the home run. He left having given up seven hits and all with two walks and no strikeouts over 70 pitches.
It was the sixth time in the last 15 starts that Maholm had failed to get to the sixth inning and the third in five outings, a decline that makes the wrist injury worth watching.
As Brandon Beachy draws closer to his return from Tommy John surgery -- he allowed five hits and one run in five innings Friday for Triple-A Gwinnett -- the Braves are going to have to make room for him in the rotation. The thought was that one of the existing starters (multiple writers have speculated Kris Medlen, a former reliever), would be moved to the bullpen.
Having a starter pushed to the disabled list, even as a precautionary measure, would put that difficult decision on the back burner for a short time.
That possibility makes the status of Maholm's wrist a huge point of interest in Atlanta.
After scoring Jose Constanza on a sacrifice fly in the third inning, Freddie Freeman would deliver his 10th home run of the season in the eighth, a two-run shot off Donnie Veal.
The game was out of hand when Freeman's blast came but in his first action since missing two starts and the All-Star Game with a thumb injury, Freeman continued his torrid pace before the injury.
In Freeman's last 15 games he's hitting .321 (18 of 56) with six doubles, two homers, a triple and 14 RBI.
The Braves are slowly moving toward full health with Jason Heyward expected to return to the lineup Sunday after suffering a strained right hamstring 10 days ago.
B.J. Upton remains on the 15-day DL with a strained adductor muscle, but with depth an issue as Constanza and Joey Terdoslavich started Saturday in the outfield alongside Justin Upton, the return of Heyward gives manager Fredi Gonzalez the benefit of more flexibility with his lineups.
Yes, the kids have preformed admirably, but Atlanta is going to win or lose with Heyward and the Uptons in the grass and Sunday they'll move closer to the trio being back together and that's nothing but positive despite numbers that, collectively, are below the preseason expectations.
With his second-inning home run, a two-run shot that gave Dan Uggla 228 home runs since 2006, the most of any second baseman, his batting average rose above .200 for the first time since April 10.
But it didn't last.
He ended the day 1-for-4 to sit at .199 on the season, but Braves fans can at least hang their hats in the fact that he's going to end a day over the Mendoza Line soon give his current trajectory.
From June 23 on, Uggla is hitting .222, which isn't ideal, but for a Three True Outcomes guy (one whose at-bats typically result in a home run, walk or strikeout) who owned a .160 average on April 28, it's a huge step up.