Once again, the Braves' starting pitching shined in a big way, and this time it was Julio Teheran who delivered the shiniest gem yet, as he pitched a complete game shutout against the Phillies. Evan Gattis delivered the game's only run on a home run that barely cleared the left field fence at Citizens Bank Park. The squeaker of a homer was the difference, as Teheran pitched 9 great innings of 3-hit ball.
So far in his short career, Evan Gattis has been making a habit of torturing the Philadelphia Phillies, and last night was no different as he had a career-high 4 hits off of Cliff Lee, and also added another HR to his tally at Citizens Bank Park. MLB.com's Paul Hagen noted that Gattis has 7 HRs in 46 plate appearances against the Phillies, which is good for one nearly every 7 at bats. Simply put, Gattis has become a boogeyman for the Phillies.
The sore shoulder that has caused a lot of consternation around the Braves and baseball in general is now officially a non-issue, as Craig Kimbrel threw a bullpen session on the side yesterday and declared that he was just fine. In fact, Kimbrel was scheduled to throw 15 pitches, but only threw 14 because he felt so good after 14 that he figured he didn't need to throw the last one. So yeah, Kimbrel's fine.
As we've noted here on the blog, there are two interesting streaks going on for two Braves at the plate. One is that Evan Gattis has yet to walk (and doesn't show any signs of doing so). Another is that Andrelton Simmons has yet to strike out this season through 49 plate appearances. In fact, Simmons is the only batter in baseball with at least 35 PAs who hasn't struck out yet. When Dave O'Brien talked to Simmons about it, he made sure to note that this wasn't a concerted effort to avoid strikeouts, but instead it was just that he's just trying to make sure that he gets on base. From the article:
"Whenever I’m going up there I’m trying to hit," Simmons said. "I don’t think about it. Just go up there and try to get on base."
Julio Teheran's beauty of a start last night was just the latest in a string of impressive performances by the Braves starters, and it's especially nice given the circumstances that brought Aaron Harang and Ervin Santana to Atlanta in the first place. In his blog for the AJC, DOB notes that although it's still extremely early, it appears that the Braves will be able to weather the storm that hit their pitching staff and should be just fine once Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd make their 2014 debuts in the rotation.
It's time to circle the date of February 18th, 2015 on your calendar (or make a note of it on your smart phone, or use the sticky note widget on your laptop or desktop to mark a reminder of it if you're technologically savvy). Why is that? Because that is the date when the Braves and Cobb County will officially begin construction on the new stadium in Marietta. The two parties have officially released the schedule of construction for the stadium, and the schedule also reveals that the plan is for the stadium to have it's "soft opening" on February 21st, 2017, which would be 2 years and 3 days after construction began.
League Wide News
The New York Yankees marked Jackie Robinson Day by honoring one of the most legendary figures in world history; The late great Nelson Mandela. The Yankees did this by unveiling a plaque in honor of the former South African President, and the plaque will hang next to Jackie Robinson's plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. The plaque was done in memory of a trip that Mandela made to the old Yankee Stadium back in 1990, one in which Mandela, while wearing full Yankees gear, declared that "You know who I am, I am a Yankee," to the delight of nearly everyone who was there, according to Harry Belafonte.
The Angels will be missing another outfielder, and this time it's Kole Calhoun. Calhoun will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a sprained ligament in his ankle, which he suffered during extra innings in Tuesday night's game. Calhoun was hitting .250/.297/.500 with 3 HRs at the time of his injury.
The rebuilding effort in Houston took a big step on Wednesday as star prospect outfielder George Springer made his MLB debut for the Houston Astros. Springer got his first hit on an infield single, and that would be his only hit of the game as he finished 1-5. In any other circumstances, Springer would have made the team outright from Spring Training but because the Astros wanted to gain another year of team control, they strategically waited until now to bring the extremely promising prospect up to the big leagues.
Although the Pirates would go on to lose this game by the score of 4-0, it wasn't from lack of trying, and Jose Tabata showed off plenty of effort and then some while making a catch that would take him out of the game with a mild concussion. Let's hope he gets better soon, because you really have to salute the guy for putting it all on the line to make this catch.
Have you noticed that MLB teams are making defensive shifts way more often than before? Fox Sports baseball writer and former SB Nation columnist Rob Neyer has definitely noticed this, and he believes that this is the latest shift (for lack of a better word) in the way that the game of baseball is played at the highest level. From his column:
...the trend is dramatic. In just four years, the number of shifts has increased by ... what, roughly 450 percent? That’s phenomenal. I’m not sure there’s ever been a new tactic in baseball that’s been embraced so quickly and wholeheartedly across the sport.
After utilizing defensive shifts to the max helped the Pirates go from being one of the worst defensive teams in baseball to one of the best according to DRS, it appears that the rest of the league is adopting the tactic as well, and it also appears that the trend will continue to go up.