Clubhouse comments after Friday’s 5-2 win over Miami:
Manager Fredi Gonzalez
The key hit of the game was Jason (Heyward;s) base hit off (Mike) Dunn there was big. And than again, Justin (Upton’s) two-run homer to get us back into taking the (2-1) lead and then another hell of an at-bat against Dyson to pick up an RBI and be able to extend the lead.
On the sixth inning play at the plate, with a Heyward-to-Tommy La Stella relay gunned down Garrett Jones who was attempting to score from first:
You got a guy that’s a Gold Glover in right field and gets that ball in as quick as he can, and La Stella too. It’s not easy. We made it look pretty easy but you got to get two throws off and then a tag at the plate without nobody dropping the ball or nobody throwing the ball anywhere. That was perfect to keep it just a one-run inning there.
What about Ramiro Pena’s pinch-hit at-bat in the seventh inning and resulted in a single off first baseman Jones’ glove?
He put the ball in play and we are always talking about putting the ball in play, things can happen. And we did today with two strikes. We went from a bunt to a hit-and-run back to a bunt and we got into the situation where we put the ball in play and they didn’t make a play and we get a first-and-third situation.
Heyward’s RBI hit, that was low and away pitch too.
He’s sticking his nose in there against left-handed pitching. I don’t exactly know exactly where that pitch was but he hit the ball hard. It was hit hard where (Miami shortstop Adeiny) Hechavarria did have a chance at it.
You’re 69-44 with Heyward batting leadoff. That’s pretty substantial.
He’s our best option right now but I feel that Jason could be productive and help us win in any part of the batting order. But for right now for where we’re at, we like him in the leadoff spot.
Justin Upton has had some hot streaks during his two seasons here but is he as hot right now than at any time?
He’s getting some great at-bats and hopefully those at-bats continue. I see him maturing as a young hitter and I think you’ve seen those hot streaks (go) longer and longer. Everybody is going to go through a cold spell and I hate to keep talking about this because of the way I am. But he’s swinging the bat real well right now.
How close were you to telling pitching coach Roger McDowell to start warming someone up in the first inning? (Starter Ervin Santana threw 32 pitches in the first)
Pretty close. And the biggest thing is just the pitch-count. You go from warming up at 7 o’clock to get in the game at 7:30. You’ve been throwing the whole time and all of a sudden, your first inning, it’s 30-plus pitches. You’ve got to start worrying about injury at that point. So, yes, it was close for us getting somebody up.
Starter Ervin Santana
About getting comfortable after a difficult first inning:
You just get more comfortable with my pitches and after the first inning, everything was better.
Can you say what the message was from Roger in the first? You struck out the next batter and retired two straight.
It was just a normal visit, talk to me (about) trying to be patient and not trying to be too fast and too quick with my front side and (I) was able to make that adjustment and get the quick outs.
And from that point on, it felt normal?
Yeah, I felt on track. Everything was better. A lot of pitches down and I just kept my team in the ball game.
Left fielder Justin Upton:
On the sixth-inning home run off starter Tom Koehler, who had been pitching a shutout:
I just got a good pitch to hit and it’s good to have someone get on base behind Freddie and I just squared it up.
How important is it to win in the first game of the homestand?
It’s huge for us, any time you can win a game in your home park. Every game is important for us now. We got this one and now we got to try to win the series.
Can you talk a little bit about playing small ball. You’ve done that a few times, finding ways to manufacturing runs. (The Braves scored three runs in the seventh off a bunt and three singles.)
We’re going to have to do that if we’re going to win. Every night is not going to be a three-run homer. We’re going to have to find ways to scratch runs across and we did that tonight.
What about Ervin Santana? After he gets through that first inning, he seemed to really settle down.
He was very aware of how many pitches he threw in the first inning and he started to pound the zone, tried to get as many innings as he could out of him. And he did an unbelievable job of it.
Does this feel like the most productive month of your career?
Yeah. I mean, guys in front of me have been getting on base and I’ve been fortunate enough to get some hits. As far as run-producing, it’s probably been the best.
Good way to start the series?
It’s good to win. We had a good (6-4) road trip. Anytime you go above .500 on a road trip, it’s outstanding. Coming home tonight, in front of our crowd, got off to a good start. Ervin did his thing. He was efficient after that first inning and it’s nice to pick each other up there.
That was a crucial seventh inning and a crucial at-bat for you? Was that an emergency swing (on an RBI single)?
No, you just try to go up there and keep it simple at that point. You’re trying to put the ball in play, wherever it is and not do too much. If you get a good pitch to hit, hit it hard somewhere. It wasn’t a big swing, it wasn’t a big hit. It was just something that got us a run.
Was the pitch out of the strike zone?
I don’t know. I don’t know anything about that. I was able to reach it. He made me earn it.
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