Braves quotes after Wednesday’s win against Phillies

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Braves quotes after Wednesday’s win against Phillies

**EVAN GATTIS

On how it felt

“Great. There’s no (words) to explain it. I’m glad I got that one out of the way. Couldn’t have planned it. Just excited. Happy. Little emotional after the game. I got the lineup and my home-run ball back. It’s just too cool. It just feels more real.”

Got the ball back?

“Yeah, the guy that caught it just wanted to trade it for another signed ball, for my first hit, first home run, everything like that. He was from A&M, which is kind of funny. Supposedly he just kind of walked out there, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to left field.’ Which is crazy.”

You know your dad was being interviewed when you hit it?

“Yeah. It’s crazy, huh?”

Hitting it off Halladay make it even more special?

“Yeah, I think so. A name like that. Yeah, definitely.”

On his first game

“It just feels more real toward the later innings, it just feels like a baseball game more than it does anything else. It’s brighter, all that, but before the game more nerves, more excitement.”

On family including brothers making arrangements to stay another day to see this game

“Yeah, my brother refused to go home yesterday. He didn’t stay for an 0-for-4 game or anything like that….

“All the people that have helped me along the way, I can’t think them enough. I’m glad they got to come. I’m glad they wanted to come. It’s just too cool.”

So it was worth the price of buying them 13 tickets?

“You bet. Absolutely. If I hit a home run every time they come up I’d buy them every time. ‘Yeah, come on.’”

Last week was the high point, is this another one?

“Yeah, definitely. Absolutely.”

Keep this going at this rate?

“Not forever (laughter). We’ll see. Hopefully it just gets more comfortable and everything, and just play baseball.”

Comfortable behind plate?

“I felt good. I’ve had the most experience with Maholm, so that helps. He’s got good command, a great idea what he wants to do, changes speeds.”

On his home-run ball getting caught up a bit in wind and barely made it out, after Gattis jogged at start

“Yeah, how about that? I thought I killed that ball.”

On Maholm’s 58-mph curveball

“That always gets me by surprise. No one can prepare for that. He’s always good for at least one per game.”

You just called curveball on that pitch?

“Yeah. He usually just drops (a super-slow) one in there. One today. It’s always fun to end an inning like that.”

**JASON HEYWARD

First two games a sample of what this lineup can do?

“Yeah, we know we’ve got the opportunity to. We’ve got the roster to put up a lot of runs. Roy struck out nine tonight; that says he had plenty-good stuff. But I feel like we did a good job of at least making him throw a lot of pitches to get those strikeouts. And when it came down to it, we hit some pitches on the plate and got ahead of him early. And then when that bullpen came in, I mean, having face Free (Freddie Freeman) right there with the bases loaded, that’s a tough spot for any pitcher. He had a good at-bat right there, got some guys in, and then we kind of just kept getting hits, kept getting hits, kept putting up at-bats where we fought some stuff off.”

“It’s a good lineup. It’s not always going to be seven runs, or nine. But I feel like we stayed patient enough tonight.”

On Gattis homering in his debut, like Heyward did in 2010

“That’s awesome, man. I’m really happy for him. Roy Halladay’s not a bad one to have your first home run off of. But I’m also glad we won in his first home-run game. I feel like he did a good job behind the plate, too, calling a pretty good game clearly with PM. (Maholm). When the guys came in from the bullpen, I feel like he’ll get more familiar with them and when to pull the trigger on certain pitches as well. But he did a good job overall.”

Homering in first inning of first two games — big?

“Oh, man. It’s definitely big. Jumping out early is huge. It’s not always going to happen, but it’s nice to do and nice to give your pitcher that cushion. For Paul to go out there and feel like he could be aggressive in the zone was definitely a big part of that.”

Was Halladay like the Halladay you’ve seen in past?

“Not velocity-wise. But again, he has a lot of weapons. I feel like it’s no surprise to see the strikeouts. Once he gets two strikes on you, he can go whichever way he wants and pick on you. But we did wear him down some and got some pitches to hit, and we hit them hard.”

**JUSTIN UPTON

On starting fast vs. Roy Halladay

“Any time we can jump out in front of a pitcher like Halladay, it’s a plus for us. It gives Paul a chance to settle in and got his stuff going and we kind of tacked on from there.”

On starting off hot with the Braves

“It’s fun. The team starts 2-0 and we keep swinging the bats. It’s always fun when that happens.”

On the poor conditions

“It wasn’t too hard to stay focused. It got a little chilly near the end. You have to keep yourself loose. Early on it was raining but it was still a good temperature to play in.”

On the team’s approach against Halladay

“With a guy like him, you’ve got to make him throw strikes and get the ball over the plate. I think we took some good pitches and we jumped on some pitches that caught the plate. Any time you are facing a guy who lives on the corner you’ve got to make sure you get him on the plate. We did a pretty good job of it.”

**LUIS AVILAN

On Fredi Gonzalez saying he didn’t expect to use him until the Phillies scored two runs in the seventh

“I was ready for that. The bullpen guys, we have to be ready for everything. No matter the situation we have to get ready.”

On not needing much time to warm up in the cool weather

“I am just going to throw like 12 pitches and I am going to be ready.”

**PAUL MAHOLM

“Putting up a zero in the first, letting the guys go up and put some runs up, makes it a little bit more comfortable pitching. I just tried to go out there and make pitches and let the guys in the infield work.”

On wet field

“You’re not trying to go all out or push off as much as possible, because it’s going to be a little slippery. I slipped on a couple of pitches, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked probably.”

On the curveball

“I faced them a couple of times in the spring and my curveball wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be. That’s a pitch that I need to get over for strikes to mix speeds, and tonight it was working.”

On the eephus-like 58-mph pitch that struck out Utley looking

“It’s a curveball, but I just try to throw it as slow as I possibly can. It’s a little nerve-wracking throwing it, because you don’t know exactly how it’s going to go over. I’ve gotten some guys looking and a couple of guys swinging during spring training. Chase probably isn’t the ideal guy to throw it to. But I figured I’d thrown him pretty much everything I had. It was a seven-run lead, two outs, two strikes, so go ahead and break it out. I threw it in the right spot, so it was good.”

Expect a lot of run support from this lineup this season?

“Hopefully. I’m not going to count on seven runs every start, but obviously going out there with a lead makes it a little bit easier. Those guys in the lineup, they’re going to torture pitchers. They’re going to have nights where they don’t, but I’ll take this lineup over any other.”

**FREDI GONZALEZ

Is that what we expected: ton of strikeouts, homers, runs?

“We scored 16 strikeouts and scored nine runs. That’s just the way it is sometimes. I’m glad we’re getting those home runs with people on base and putting some crooked numbers up.”

Fitting that Gattis’ first hit is a home run considering his unusual story?

“Did you guys think anything else was going to happen? It didn’t surprise me one bit. He did a nice job catching, too. I was hoping he would be able to get a base hit and catch a shutout his first major league game but that didn’t happen. He did a nice job. I think that Roger (McDowell, pitching coach) helped him through the game and he sat down with (catcher) Gerald (Laird) a couple times and talked through some situations. It’s nice for the young man to do what he did.”

On Luis Avilan’s outing

“We didn’t want to use any of our guys in that situation but you are facing a lineup that is pretty potent and then all of a sudden it’s, ‘Here we go,’ we are facing the meat of the order with some people on base and stuff in the big leagues can happen real quick. He came in and got two quick outs and got us out of a jam.”

On team’s approach vs. Halladay

“You mean being patient with him? I don’t know if that was by design. I don’t know that we talked about that. But we made him throw the ball over the plate. We capitalized when he did throw it over the plate.

Did Halladay look like a different guy to you than in the past?

Yeah, a little bit different. I couldn’t tell you what it is. The velocity is maybe a mile or two below what you’ve seen. I really couldn’t tell you much more than that not living with him and knowing what’s going on over there. His sinker was moving down. The only thing that really stands out for me is the high pitch count. Usually 40 pitches for him and he’s in the sixth. Maybe it’s just a matter of that.”

On Maholm

“I thought he did a terrific job. He mixed his pitches well and gave us a great opportunity to win the ballgame.”

“Gattis coming in and getting a home run in his second at-bat was good. I think he thought he got it better than he did when it left. He started jogging a little bit and that ball didn’t clear by very much. I thought he got it really good, but I guess the wind was (blowing in).

“Jason’s home run and Freeman’s three-run double, Justin’s home run … we did a nice job.”

— Quotes compiled by David O’Brien and Michael Cunningham

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