Braves’ Peterson got the place rocking, as he hoped

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 31: Jace Peterson #8 of the Atlanta Braves hits a bases loaded three-run triple against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the ninth inning at AT&T Park on May 31, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The three rbi's put the Braves ahead in the game 7-5. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

After Jace Peterson hit a three-run homer Sunday that put the Braves ahead for good in a 6-2 win at Philadelphia that ended a brutal 10-game trip on a positive note, Atlanta’s second baseman was asked if he was looking forward to getting back to Atlanta and Turner Field.

“Yeah, ready to get back home and get it rocking,” Peterson said.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 31:  Jace Peterson #8 of the Atlanta Braves hits a bases loaded three-run triple against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the ninth inning at AT&T Park on May 31, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The three rbi's put the Braves ahead in the game 7-5. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Jace Peterson, shown here on his bases-loaded triple at San Francisco earlier this season, had three hits including a three-run homer against the Giants on Monday. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Monday night, the Braves got it rocking. But not before falling behind 6-0, a seemingly hopeless deficit against the World Series champions. Which only made the rocking that  much better from the many fans that stayed for the duration of a 12-inning walk-off win that ended on the latest dramatic homer from 30-year-old rookie Adonis Garcia, whose two-run drive to right-center gave the Braves an 8-7 win.

Garcia who was released by the Yankees at the end of spring training and never so much as sipped coffee in the majors before his brief callup with the Braves in May, is making the most of this second stint with the big-league Braves that began in late July. The stocky, 5-9 right-handed-hitting infielder/corner outfielder has nine hits in nine games, three of them home runs that put the Braves ahead, and all of those homers to center or right-center.

For the second consecutive game, it was a three-run homer by Peterson that really got the comeback going. The Braves trailed 6-0 before his three-run homer in the sixth inning Monday, as Peterson showed why dropping him back down from leadoff to the sixth spot in the order was a good and overdue move: He hits better with runners on base and when he doesn’t feel pressure to get on base. He says that himself.

He’s hit a combined .290 (29-for-100) with nine walks and only eight strikeouts from the sixth and seventh spots in the order, and .233 (56-for-240) with 27 walks and 61 strikeouts from the leadoff spot.

First full season in the majors, he’s still learning the game, and performs better when he’s not thinking so much. When ducks are on the pond – and especially when there are two or three runners out there — he goes on instincts, see ball and hit ball. And gets results.

And so, in the past two wins, Peterson has broken out of funk in a big way, totaling six hits, two homers and six RBIs in two games. This after hitting .159 (20-for-126) with just one homer, a .232 OBP and .222 slugging percentage  in his previous 33 games.

With Freddie Freeman leaving last night’s game due to oblique strain in his side – we’ll know more this afternoon about his status – and Andrelton Simmons having missed the past two games with a bone bruise in the thumb area of his throwing hand, it’s particularly important for the Braves to get the kind of improved production they’ve received from Peterson in the consecutive wins, and to have others such as Garcia and Chris Johnson step in and contribute as well.

The Braves needed to stop their season from swirling in the toilet, and they did that the past two games. With much of the credit going to Peterson, Garcia and A.J. Pierzysnki.

• Pierzynski going strong: Yes, the 38-year-old catcher continues to defy the odds and help carry a Braves offense that’s never needed him as badly as it does right now. The Braves had some trade interest in Pierzysnki, but they weren’t going to give him away for a marginal return when he’s had such a positive influence on their young pitchers and given their offense some direly needed pop and some big hits.

In his past 20 games, Pierzynski has hit .416 (32-for-77) with five doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, a .558 slugging percentage and only five strikeouts. And since the beginning of June, he’s hit .327 (55-for-168) in 45 games with 16 extra-base hits, 17 RBIs and a .358 OBP and .476 slugging percentage.

Among 29 major league catchers with at least 200 plate appearances this season, Pierzynski is second in batting average (.302) behind the Giants’ Buster Posey (.327), and eighth in OPS (.784), just behind McCann (.789), who plays his home games at lefty-friendly Yankee Stadium.

Pierzynski has hit .275 at Turner Field, while on the road he’s hit .323 (50-for-155) with a .358 OBP. And he’s struck out only 25 times in 275 at-bats. Among the catchers with the top 15 OPS (minimum 200 plate appearances), Pierzysnki and Posey (33 K’s) are the only ones with fewer than 50 strikeouts.

Day games can be particularly tough on a catcher, not to mention a 38-year-old catcher. Pierzynski’s hitting .313/.348/.450 in 55 night games, compared to .266/.299/.438 in 19 day games.

One prominent Braves official told me Monday that if he had a vote for team MVP, Pierzynski would have his vote.

• Remarkable stat: Brandon Crawford has consecutive two-homer games at Turner Field, which means the Giants shortstop has now hit as many or more homers in his past two games in Atlanta as he’s hit in his entire career on the road against any of the Giants’ NL West rivals, including at Coors Field.

Think about that. Crawford has five homers in 10 games (39 at-bats) at Turner Field, including four homers in nine at-bats in his past two games there. Meanwhile, he’s hit just one homer in 37 career games (126 at-bats) at Arizona’s Chase Field, two homers in 34 games (91 at-bats) at Dodger Stadium, three homers in 35 games (130 at-bats) at Coors Field, and four homers in 35 games (119 at-bats) at San Diego’s Petco Park.

In his past 17 games against the Braves, home and away, Crawford is 23-for-65 (.354) with four doubles, six homers, 15 RBIs and a .692 slugging percentage. But in each of the past two of those games, he’s also made a critical error late that helped the Braves pull out a win.

 • Etc.

 Nick Markakis has hit .341 (15-for-44) during a 10-game hitting streak, and in his past 13 games he’s 19-for-55 (.345) in his past 13 games with five extra-base hits (two homers), a .379 OBP and .527 slugging percentage…

The Braves are 3-2 vs. the Giants this season, and they’ve beat them three in a row while hitting .317 while totaling seven homers and 24 runs. The first two of those Braves wins were at San Francisco.

Remembering Skip: Monday marked the seventh anniversary of Skip Caray’s death and he would He was my favorite broadcaster, and honestly he was one of the funniest, coolest guys I’ve met during my sportswriting career. I loved Skip. His great partner in the booth, Pete Van Wieren, would die six years later, almost to the day (Aug. 2).

Here is Pete’s beautiful on-air tribute to Skip. And after that, stay on the video and it goes to a recording of Skip calling the ninth inning of that famous NLCS Game 7.

I remember finishing my blog after Skip’s death with this song, which I just thought seemed appropriate then. And now, remembering him. Great guy, missed every day.

“SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN” by Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash

Well I woke up Sunday morning
With no way to hold my head, that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled in my closet through my clothes
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
Then I washed my face and combed my hair
And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

I’d smoked my mind the night before
With cigarettes and the songs I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Playin’ with a can that he was kicking
Then I walked across the street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone’s fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to somethin’
That I’d lost somewhere, somehow along the way.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

In the park I saw a daddy
With a laughin’ little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday school
And listened to the songs they were singin’
Then I headed down the street
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed thru the canyon
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk
I’m wishing Lord that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone.
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’
That’s half as lonesome as the sound
Of a sleepin’ city sidewalk
And Sunday mornin’ comin’ down.

 

 

 


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