Johnson’s Kurkjian impersonation would have been fittng last night
Before Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over the Indians, the Braves had lost each of the previous seven games in which they had recorded three hits or fewer. One of those hits was Elliot Johnson’s game-winning, second-inning triple – the first triple Atlanta has received from the eighth spot of its lineup this year.
The minimal offensive production was enough for Alex Wood, who tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings to become the first Atlanta rookie pitcher to allow one or fewer runs in five consecutive starts. The Elias Sports Bureau says this span ties the franchise rookie record set by Boston’s Jim Turner (1937) and matched by Milwaukee’s Bob Sadowski (1963).
Dating back to Tom Glavine’s masterpiece in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series, the Indians have been shutout in three of the past five games played in Atlanta.
Click here to see Johnson’s comical postgame interview with Tom Hart last night. But given all that transpired as the Braves played an American League opponent for the first time in August during either the live or dead ball eras, it might have been fitting for Johnson to recap the last Tuesday of the eighth month of the 13th year of this century with his impersonation of ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian.
With Dan Uggla expected to return to his role as Atlanta’s starting second baseman tonight, Johnson will have a little more time to perfect his impersonations while providing depth on Atlanta’s bench. To make room for Uggla, the Braves will likely send Todd Cunningham to Triple-A Gwinnett. Despite the fact Gwinnett’s season ends on Monday, Cunningham will still have to remain off Atlanta’s roster for 10 days unless he is called back up to replace a player placed on the disabled list. This would put him in line to be added to the expanded roster on Sept. 7.
The highlight of the current nine-game homestand comes Friday night when Julio Teheran will oppose Miami’s Jose Fernandez in a battle between two of the most impressive members of this year’s strong crop of National League rookies. Along with being a top Rookie of the Year candidate, Fernandez is arguably the NL’s best pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw.
Fernandez’s 0.82 ERA in August stands as the only mark better than the one produced by Wood (0.90) who allowed just three earned runs in the 30 innings he completed this month. Just eight starts into his career, Atlanta’s 22-year-old rookie has quickly gained comfort at the big league level. He held opponents hitless in 24 at-bats with runners in scoring position this month. No other qualified Major Leaguer has not allowed a hit in these situations this month.
It was certainly good to see Jason Heyward back in the clubhouse yesterday. As an added bonus, Heyward had the opportunity to catch up with Cleveland’s Michael Bourn, who provided Heyward valuable guidance during his stint in Atlanta.
If you haven’t seen the video that accompanied yesterday’s story, click here to hear Heyward talk about what he has been feeling since his jaw was fractured by Jon Niese’s 90-mph fastball last week.