WASHINGTON — Braves quotes from Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, David Carpenter, David Hale and manager Fredi Gonzalez after a 2-1 series-opening win Friday at Washington.
On the overturned play
“I was going to challenge. I went on Chris Johnson telling me that Justin had raised his hands after Justin came over and the ball was lodged (beneath the padded fence). And at that point it’s the bottom of the fifth inning, and they (umps) take (the replay reviews) over from the seventh inning on, so I’m thinking OK, if I’m going to use one here, go ahead and do it.
“What we’ll do, we’ll talk it over again with the outfielders and tell them when those things happen, raise your hands and don’t go look for the ball. That’s the No. 1 priority tomorrow when we talk to the outfielders – when those balls get lodged, whether it’s here in the pad or in Chicago in the ivy or something, raise your hands.”
On the win
“They had some opportunities and we wiggled out of it. Carpenter made one helluva pitch to Harper there in the eighth inning with runners at first and second. They made a couple of baserunning mistakes – Desmond trying to steal third, we got that out. Simmons throwing a guy out at the plate. We did a nice things fundamentally. But we wiggled out of a lot of situations. Played good defense and made some pitches when we had to.”
On Hale going five strong innings after being sick Wednesday-Thursday
“As much as he could give us really. This kid a couple of days ago was probably in Zimmermann’s shape (Zimmermann was scratched from Thursday start at New York due to sickeness, and started instead Friday). And he gave his team an opportunity to win the game, and David gave us an opportunity to win the game.
“Our bullpen did terrific.”
So the sickness had something to do with taking him out after five innings?
“I think so. And the way that inning was evolving. That was the inning with the replay, five or six minutes – maybe it didn’t take that long, but it seemed that way. He gave up the double, then he had a rundown at third, and a rocket to Freeman at first to end the inning. I’m thinking, it’s time – he gave us an opportunity, and hand it over to the bullpen.”
On Gattis homer
“And you know what, so far he’s done a terrific job calling games. He made a couple of nice throws, he’s blocked the balls in the dirt. He’s done OK.”
On Chris Johnson’s sac fly
“He’s done a terrific job, that’s what we ask him to do right there. There’s going to be times where they have to pick their poison with Freeman or Johnson. And you feel good, the way we’re set up offensively right now with our lineup, you feel like he is a guy that can do that job, and he doesn’t have to change his approach. We don’t want him to change his approach.
“Heyward has a terrific (dash from) first to third to get us in scoring position, and C.J. a deep fly ball sac fly, and we end up holding them and winning the game.”
More on what he said when he went out to challenge the call on ball lodged beneath fence
“I said, I want to review the play. They’ve told us you don’t want to get real specific. I mentioned the ball got stuck in the padding, then you let the guys do their job — the umpiring crew here and the guys up in New York watch it and look at it from different directions and angles.”
Do you want your outfielders to stop and signal with arms up when that happens?
“When you get balls lodged in pads or underneath ivy or underneath benches, one of the ground rules is that if you go in there and start messing with it, sometimes they’ll let the runners keep going. Usually, when you raise your hands, just wait for the umpire.”
“I thought (Upton) had fell down or something. (Couldn’t see him.) And so I go and talk to Chris Johnson on the way onto the field, and then Justin’s coming in telling me the ball got lodged. So I used a challenge.”
On leaving Carpenter in with two on in the eighth
“I don’t think Ian Thomas is ready right now to get people out in the eighth inning with Bryce Harper at the plate.”
Did you have any doubt you’d be able to pitch today after being sick Wednesday and some Thursday?
“No, I was planning to do it the whole time and I kept my mind prepared for it.”
How’d you feel about your performance?
“I felt good. It’s good to get that one under my belt, first one of the year.”
Also your first career road start in majors
“Yeah, first start on the road. But it’s always fun to throw in front of a crowd like that.”
On Simmons’ arm (the relay throw)
“Oh my goodness, it’s amazing isn’t it. I love to have that behind me.”
On the overturned call, Nats’ inside-the-park homer that became double
“From our angle we could see the whole thing. I mean, it’s obviously a double. It’s not an inside-the-park home run down the left-field line. So I think they made the right call. I’m glad they went back and looked at it.”
What were you thinking when it was happening?
“I was confused. It’s something I’ve never went through, you know? I was like, that’s an interesting way to give up a home run.”
On working with Gattis
“Very good. We were on the same page all day. He’s great to throw to.”
On getting out of the two-out, none-out jam with three straight strikeouts in eighth
“A double-play would have been good. But right there, it’s just pitch-by-pitch. You don’t try to think too far ahead. You get too far ahead (thinking), you’ve got a chance to get beat up bad. I just tried to go pitch-by-pitch and let the results be what they were. I was fortunate to be able to get back into the zone, back into what I was trying to work on, and I was able to execute.”
On the packed house and close game
“It was a good atmosphere. A lot of fun. The fans got loud and that’s always fun to come and play in something like that.”
On it being a big series
“They’re all big. We saw that last year. Every single win you can get in the division is going to be big. None of these games are going to be taken lightly. Go out there for 162 and grind them out.”
On Gattis’ homer in D.C. again
“It’s pretty impressive what he can do with a bat in his hand. And I tell you what, he’s busting his butt behind the plate, too. He called a real good game.”
On pitching today
“The starters establish it early. Hale went out there and busted his butt, kept the ball down, was able to turn the lineup over without a lot of damage. That’s big. When he’s able to go out there and establish his sinker in, kind of get those guys swinging at that, it makes it a little easier for us to come in to not have to work toward the middle of the plate to give those guys good swings.”
On the pitch that struck out Harper to end 8th, third strikeout in a row after 2 were on
“I’m trying to throw a strike. Just trying to execute, especially with (count) 3-2. Make him swing the bat. I already gave up one free pass that inning, and that’s the last thing we need is another free pass.”
On coming through with sac fly after Zimmermann struck out three in a row (including him) with runner at first in 4th
“That was big. Zimmerman is tough, man. We’ve gone against some pretty good arms so far this year. He’s tough. Usually anytime we face the Nationals, we know with the arms they’re throwing out there and our pitching staff, we’re going to get into games like this. So it was good, it was nice for me to get in that RBI situation and get the sac fly. That’s kind of my job.”
On winning another close, low-scoring game
“We’ll put up some runs. We’ll get going. But we’re not going to put up five, six, seven runs against Zimmerman, against Strasburg, against those guys. So we’ve got to be able to battle and show that we can win a ballgame that way. And we did that. We got guys on, and great baserunning by Heyward on Freddie’s single to get to third base with less than two outs, and I was able to one to the outfield.”
What did you see on the play when Justin lost the ball under the fence?
“It kind of stuck in there, and talking to Justin afterward he said he kind of rain over there and looked down, and he wasn’t sure where the ball was, so he didn’t want to get on his knees and kind of crawl under there. But I think it went the right way. I think the umpire let it go, let Desmond run, and then if they went back and saw that it was really stuck, then you put him back on second base. Rather than hold him up automatically and keep him at second, because then if it’s not stuck what do you do? I think they did a good job of letting it play out, reviewing it, and got it right.”
On what happened when the ball got stuck beneath fence
“It just went under the fence, and knowing the rule, when you put your hands up, I looked in and it didn’t look like Marvin (third-base umpire Marvin Hudson) was coming out to look at it. Simmons was panicking, telling me to throw the ball, so I picked it up and threw it.”
What did ump say later?
“He said that he was about to come out and check to see if it was under the fence, because he can’t kill the play until he’s 100-percent sure. Which is what he has to do, what he’s been taught to do. There was a little bit of confusion, but it got worked out.”
How much effort did it take to get ball out from under fence, was it lodged pretty good?
“It’s not so much about it being lodged. I mean, you saw my throw to the infield when I went to pull it out and throw the ball it kind of spun in my hand because it hit the (bottom) of the fence. It just kind of spins in your hand it’s hard to get a good grip on it. Next time it happens I’ll stand there, if I’m 100-percent sure, like I was. I will stand there and make sure they come out and see it.’