Brian McCann Homers To Take The Lead Twice In Atlanta Braves Win Over Blue Jays

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May 18, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher

Brian McCann

(16) celebrates with teammates after beating the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. The Atlanta Braves won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I only caught the end of this game personally, but that’s okay, because I got to see each of the relief pitchers in action and take notes on what I saw. Here’s the basic, quick recap though:

Paul Maholm had a pretty rough day on the mound, throwing six innings and giving up five earned runs. He gave up ten hits (including a home run) and walked one batter, while striking out just three. This might be a bit early to judge, but it looks like Maholm is back to his middle/back of the rotation ways.

That’s really not such a bad thing. We never expected Maholm to come in and be the ace he was for the first few weeks of the season, and Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, and Kris Medlen have all been good so far this season.

The real story of the day today was the efforts from Brian McCann and Evan Gattis at the dish. Going into the sixth inning, the Braves were down by one. Gattis led off the inning and homered to left field to tie the game, and McCann hit a bomb to right immediately following Gattis’ home run to take away the lead.

It would only last one inning however, as Anthony Varvaro came in during the seventh and got into a lot of trouble, allowing the Blue Jays to score a run and reclaim the lead before Luis Avilan came in to extinguish the fire. Varavaro only recorded one out while giving up two doubles, and walking a batter in addition to allowing the run.

Luis Avilan then pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Cory Gearrin had a 1,2,3 ninth inning to keep the Braves in the ball game. Both pitchers looked good today (especially Avilan in my opinion) and you can read my notes on them all at the end of the recap.

In the top of the tenth inning Brian McCann decided he was ready to be done playing, so he hit a no-doubter to right-center to retake the lead for a second time. Craig Kimbrel would come in during the bottom of the inning and work around a lead off walk to close out the game.

McCann, Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, and Jordan Schafer all had multi-hit nights while Gattis tacked on a homer as well. It was a good night for the offense with Justin Upton out of the game.

Here you can find my notes on Anthony Varvaro, Luis Avilan, and Cory Gearrin. These were recorded while the game was going on, and aren’t supposed to resemble anything close to “prose.”

"Notes on Varvaro:Mid nineties tried to keep the ball low to Bautista, left one pitch right over the pipe that he drove foul. Next pitch was 97 mph but it was also left right over the pipe and a bit up. Bautista gets a stand up doubleBreaking ball a bit in and low to Encarnacion for a strike, another outside and low in the dirt for a ball. Next pitch is a fastball 96 mph right down the pipe, but Encarnacion grounds to the right side of the infield. Bautista over to third.First pitch to Arencibia breaking ball away in the dirt. Second pitch is the same breaking ball away. Two balls. Another fastball right down the pipe (95 mph) and Arencibia has a stand up RBI double to tie the game.Varvaro isn’t throwing his breaking ball for strikes and is leaving his fastball over the heart of the plate and up. That’s not going to get anything done.First pitch to DeRosa is a fastball over the middle for a strike, and then he misses with a high fastball and a breaking ball away. Leaves a fastball right over the plate again (93 mph) but DeRosa gets under it and fouls it off. Next pitch is a fastball that misses high. Next pitch is a fastball high again, to walk VarvoroMound visit.Varvaro has been awful and only recorded one out before getting pulled. He let up two doubles and a walk. He left his fastball consistently over the plate and even up to the middle of the Blue Jays order. His breaking ball doesn’t look too bad but he couldn’t locate it for a strike at all in the time I saw him. His fastball reached 97 at one point but that’s not going to do any good against big league hitters when it’s right over the middle of the plate.Notes on AvilanFirst pitch to Rasmus is low and in for a ball. (Avilan has struggled with his control as well, walking a good number of people so far). Next pitch is a 93 mph fastball over the middle of the plate for a strike. Fastball up and across the middle of the plate gets Rasmus to fly/line out to Simmons who doubles up the runner at second. I’m not sure how high this was to Rasmus. It didn’t look like a great pitch but if it was up above near his hands it’s a lot better than I thought.Avilan got out of the inning quickly, but I haven’t seen enough of him to really evaluate himAvilan is back in the eighth.He’s throwing a fastball around the corners of the plate to Izturis but missing each of them. Four straight balls (pretty sure they were all fastballs) to walk Izturis.Bonafacio bunts the first pitch and gets thrown out at first, while moving Izturis to second.Avilan then gets the next batter to ground out right back to him. He missed a curveball in the sequence but other than that nothing to note.First pitch to Melky is a high fastball for a strike. Solid pitch. Next is a change that misses well outside. Fastball a bit inside that Melky swings at and fouls off. Next pitch is a low curveball that Melky takes. Another good pitch. Avilan finished Melky off with an outside fastball to get a strike out and end the inning. This was the best sequence so far for Avilan. He leaves the runner on second and gets out of the damage for the Braves with the game tied.Notes on GearrinGearrin is going up against the heart of the Blue Jays order, but it’s three righties so heFirst pitch to Bautista is a good breaking ball on the inside for a strike. The next is a breaking ball that falls off of the outside corner for a ball. Another slider in almost the same spot, but Bautista chases. Another slider, a bit lower, Bautista grounds out to Uggla.Gearrin throws the slider for a strike to Encarnacion. The next hangs a bit over the plate, but Encarnacion pops it up to Freddie Freeman.All Gearrin has thrown is the slider so far which has worked, but it would be nice to see him mix in some other pitches, especially in a long at bat.First pitch to DeRosa is… you guessed in slider for a strike. Next pitch is also the slider a bit lower and in the middle, DeRosa swings and misses. Slider again, over the middle. DeRosa pops it up and gets through the heart of the order incredibly quickly.He threw just nine pitches, and 8 for strikes. The slider was located well for the most part, and down in the zone."