Reporting Grant McAuley
Braves win 17-10 slugfest over Phillies
What went down: It was a crazy day of baseball from the outset, with plenty of high-scoring innings to go around. Kris Medlen tossed a clean first frame, but both offenses came out swinging after that. The Braves plated six runs in the first inning, highlighted by Justin Upton’s towering two-run homer off Rodrigo Lopez. Atlanta’s offense pounded out 19 hits, including two home runs from Upton, and blasts by Freddie Freeman and Juan Francisco.
These two lineups put up 27 combined runs, with Atlanta managing to make a winner of Medlen despite the fact he allowed nine runs in five innings of work. The bullpen had an easier time of it, allowing just one run in the final three innings.
Medlen (1-1) had some success with his changeup, but his curveball was hanging and his fastball stayed in the middle of the strike zone. Those factors led to the Phillies plating five runs in the top of the second. Philadelphia got to him again in the fifth inning, scoring four runs, including a two-run home run by Dominic Brown. Medlen was charged with nine runs – all earned – on 14 hits. He did not walk a batter while striking out four, throwing 62 of his 84 pitches for strikes.
What stood out: The power displayed by Justin Upton was definitely the featured attraction. He belted two home runs, and had 6 RBI, scored three more runs and drew a walk. That brings Upton’s average up to .292 this spring. He talked about how something has clicked for him at the plate after working to establish a daily routine in the cages. Older Brother B.J. Upton had a hit and scored a run as well. Freeman’s home run was an embarrassing moment for Phillies left fielder Darin Ruf. He actually got to the ball on the fly, but slapped it over the wall for a two-run shot.
Francisco continues to make his case to be the team’s starting third baseman. Three more hits, including a home run and three RBI on Monday strengthened his claim. Not to be outdone, Chris Johnson checked in to play some first base, had a hit and drove home a run as well. Francisco is hitting .354 with 5 homers and 11 RBI, while Johnson is batting .347 with 3 HR’s and 9 RBI.
News and notes: Closer Craig Kimbrel made his first appearance since returning from the World Baseball Classic on Saturday. He worked a perfect seventh and notched a strikeout… Righty reliever Jordan Walden threw pain-free batting practice on Monday and could appear in Wednesday’s game against the Pirates… Medlen contributed had two hits, including an RBI-single in Monday’s victory.
Up next: The Braves are off on Tuesday. They welcome the Pirates to town on Wednesday, with Lefty Mike Minor making the start.