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Braves news and links 5/21

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Nick Markakis is off to a solid start, but is it worthy of the cleanup spot? All of that and more is in today's news and links.

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Braves return to win column with victory over Rays

While Atlanta's beloved basketball team was busy on the other end of a pipe-laying venture, the baseball team was busy picking up a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Braves only picked up four hits in this game, but like Tony says in the recap, they made them count. One of those hits was an RBI single from Alberto Callaspo, and the Braves' other run of the night came from a RBI groundout from Todd Cunningham. Thanks to Williams Perez's efforts on the mound (more on that later), the paltry two runs were enough to win. Also, be sure to check out the recap of the quick 2-game series.

Atlanta sells John Cornely to Red Sox

Before Wednesday's game, the Braves made a minor transaction by shipping pitcher John Cornely to the Boston Red Sox for cash considerations. Cornely pitched all of one inning for the Braves this season, which is basically the definition of a "cup of coffee" when it comes to baseball.

Markakis off to solid start with Braves

Meanwhile, one guy who is getting all of the coffee he can handle and then some during a long MLB career is Nick Markakis. Even though Markakis has yet to hit his first homer as a Brave, the $44 MM man is off to a decent start with the Braves this season; He's hitting .297/.386/.338 with a 12.0% walk rate and 105 wRC+. That has him on track for a pretty good season, and we'll definitely take it here. But is it worthy of the cleanup spot in the lineup? That's what Dave O'Brien is trying to figure out:

Since then, Markakis is homerless in his past 39 regular-season games and 148 at-bats. He has seven extra-base hits (all doubles) and 37 singles in that stretch, batting a strong .297 with a .388 OBP but only a .345 slugging percentage. (For the record, his last homer came off Detroit’s Justin Verlander in Game 2 of the division series.)

The only NL hitters who’ve gone homerless in more at-bats this season than Markakis (141 ABs) are Dee Gordon (159), Ben Revere (154) and Angel Pagan (146). Not typically the type of hitters one might associate with Markakis.

Did we mention Markakis has been batting cleanup for the Braves lately?

Williams Perez's first start was a success

For Williams Perez, his first career Major League start couldn't have gone any better: He went five innings, struck out seven, only walked one, and gave up only one run. Again, for a guy who's making his first career start in the bigs, that's about as much as you can ask for, and then some. Fredi was pleased, and Perez himself was happy with the performance.

''One of the best parts of my game was having the changeup and the curveball working,'' Perez said through a translator. ''That was a big thing for me and why I pitched so well today.''

Check out today's Minor League report


A look at the ten cheapest teams in the past ten years

It's no secret that money no longer means everything in baseball. The fact that teams like the Rays, A's, and Royals have been able to compete in October is proof of this. While the big money teams get a lot of attention, the bargain-bin squads tend to get ignored. Hardball Times has decided to shine the spotlight on those teams, by taking a look at the ten cheapest teams over the past ten years (or, as I like to put it, "A Retrospective of Florida Baseball since 2005").

Ump takes over game in Washington

In the third inning of yesterday's game between the Nationals and the Yankees, both Bryce Harper and Nats manager Matt Williams were tossed from the game. Now, before you guys start jumping on Bryce Harper for being petulant (and I won't argue), it's pretty clear that home plate umpire Marvin Hudson decided that this was going to be his moment to shine. There's word that the Nationals are going to file a complaint to the league office concerning the umpiring on Wednesday. However, even if the complaint gets filed, the next time baseball publicly reprimands an umpire will be one of the first times in recent times, so there's that.