During batting practice Braves catcher Evan Gattis launched two balls into the left field seats clearing well over 335 feet. It was a sign of things to come. Gattis’s hard work paid off when he. The man affectionately known as El Oso Blanco or “The White Bear” was called on to pinch hit in the eighth inning and launched a two-run homer on a 2-2 pitch into the left field seats, leading the Braves to a 3-1 victory.
“Its nice having a guy like [Gattis] that you can plug into the lineup at anytime, he likes moments like this,” Braves General Manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
It was Gattis’s 8th home run of the season and his second pinch hit home run, but since Jason Heyward’s return to the starting lineup it will be hard to find a spot for the April National League Rookie of the Month.
“Eventually we are going to have to find a spot for him so he can get three to four at bats a game,” Gonzalez said.
Gattis lead all Major League rookies in home runs and RBI in the month of April. The Braves needed a clutch hit down 1-0 in the eighth inning and Gattis came through. Atlanta has a 2-15 record when trailing after seven innings and a 1-14 record when they don’t hit a home run.
“Unfortunately we are a team that relies on the long ball quite often and when we are doing that we are pretty good,” said Andrelton Simmons, who hit a home run after Gattis to give the Braves the 3-1 victory.
The Braves have a 22-4 record in games when they hit a home run. Heyward just missed a homer in the first inning when he sent a ball flying into center field, but Matt Kemp scaled the wall and robbed him. Heyward trotted the bases and tipped his cap to the center fielder.
Braves starter Kris Medlen pitched seven innings, giving up just two hits and one unearned run. The run came in the fourth inning when Skip Schumaker doubled on a line drive to left fielder Justin Upton with Adrian Gonzalez on first. Gonzalez scored on a fielding error by Upton when he fumbled the ball in the left field corner.
With recent injuries to the Braves bullpen, Medlen felt he needed to give the Braves pitchers a little extra.
“It was in the back of my mind, you always want to perform well but seeing [Eric] O’Flaherty down made me want to go eight innings,” Medlen said.
Braves General Manager Frank Wren announced yesterday that a recent MRI revealed relief pitcher Eric O’Flaherty had a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left elbow. A UCL tear is typically repaired with Tommy John surgery, a process that could take up to 12 months to heal. The injury comes just days after Dr. James Andrews performed season ending surgery on the shoulder of relief pitcher Jonny Venters.
Without two studs in the lineup the relief staff pitched a perfect game after Medlen’s exit. Cory Gearirin, who pitched a perfect inning in the eighth, picked up the win and Craig Kimbrel notched his 13th save of the season.