— quotes compiled by Chris Vivlamore and David O’Brien
Braves quotes from Justin Upton, Chris Johnson, Mike Minor and manager Fredi Gonzalez after Tuesday’s 4-0 loss to the Phillies.
On game and offensive struggles
“We had bases-loaded with one out in the first inning and we didn’t get anything going on. I thought (Mike) Minor was outstanding. He gave up three runs in 7-1/3 innings. Up and down the lineup we are just not … we are a talented club. Offensively, we are a talented club. We can put up some numbers but to get shut out in back-to-back days and three out of four days and only score one run in the only game we won in the last four, it’s mind-boggling. You guys cover it like I see it every day. We are a talented group of guys and we just aren’t getting any runs. We are not moving the line. We are not putting the ball in play when we have to. It’s just frustrating.”
“But Minor, to go back to him, couldn’t do any more than he did for us tonight. This is his fifth start in a row where he has given us every opportunity to win a game and we just couldn’t do it today.”
On whether pitchers are frustrated with lack of offense
“I don’t think they are frustrated. They keep going out there and throwing zeros or very minimal damage. That’s what we are supposed to do whether we score 15 or not score 15, the pitching staff is supposed to do its job. And they have been, pretty much all year. I know that Walk and Fletch (hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher) and the whole coaching staff scratch our heads, put lineups and all kinds of stuff together and right now we are in a funk. We are in a funk. We need to go out and score some runs here in the next couple of games.”
On loading bases with one out and not scoring, when just a medium-depth fly ball or maybe even a grounder will get a run in
“Put the ball in play. Productive outs. You get a run and you get on board and you can breathe a little easier. It’s a talented group of guys. It’s not real pretty to watch right now.”
On whether players are tensing up
“I hate to answer that question for them. I know when we go out after the first pitch of the ball game I feel pretty good that we are going to win a game with the guys that we have out there. I’m not frustrated. I get frustrated at the end of the game when we don’t score any runs. But during the course of the game, or before the game …
“I thought the first inning was outstanding. Jason (Heyward) led off with a double. (Andrelton) Simmons does a great job of moving him over to third base. (Freddie) Freeman walks. We get first and third. Then we get bases loaded. We couldn’t put a ball in play.”
On possible big innings that Heyward led off both with doubles
“Yeah, leadoff double by Jason. But it (lineup) is not performing right now.”
On Justin Upton leaving game after getting hit by pitch
“His first at-bat and then it kept getting stiff on him. So we decided to get him treatment right away.”
On whether the lineup will change for Wednesday’s day game
“We’ll see. We’ll sit here and get a good night’s sleep – or as good a night as you can get – and we’ll come up with it.”
Your thoughts when you leave a game like this
“I could have done better. I feel like there were some balls that I left over the plate that I could have thrown differently.”
Are team’s offensive struggles starting to weigh on pitchers?
“No, I don’t think so. Because I don’t really think that affects our job. We’re still going to go out there and try to get everybody out. So, for me personally, I don’t really feel any pressure. I just feel like if you do your job, we’ll come around. We have good hitters going to the plate every time. So … I don’t know. We’re kind of a streaky team, I guess. I don’t know any other way to put it.”
Did you continue what you’ve been doing, using the sinker predominately?
“Yeah, and some of them were more middle (of the plate) today and they got hit. And they didn’t move as much. But some guys, I think it was Ruf got a couple of hits because he just went the other way. Hit the ball hard, too. But I’m just going to keep on throwing it, if I keep on throwing games like that.”
“Still throwing a lot of sinkers, mixing in some curveballs and sliders.”
When Fredi took you out of the game, were you asking him to check the ball?
“No, no. I was going to throw the ball in (to get a new ball). And then I gave it to him (Gonzalez). I didn’t want it to be an awkward scene out there, so I gave it to him and said, you guys need to get a new ball (before the next pitch). He didn’t know what I was saying, either.”
How would you rate the level of concern right now with what’s going on with the team?
“Very low. I don’t think we’re… We are concerned with winning, but I don’t think anybody’s panicking. We’re a great team. I don’t know how many games (they are behind), two, 2 ½ in the wild card. I don’t even check it. I don’t know. Because I know that none of us are pressured into winning, we just want to go out there and try our best and do our best every night.”
You said recently that you guys can’t get frustrated because that’s when you get tense on field. How does this feel now?
“Frustrated. Tense. It stinks right now. Not only for me personally but for the team as well. It’s tough. We’ve got a lot of guys struggling and we’re losing. It’s a lot easier to deal with yourself struggling if you’re winning ballgames. But we’re just not clicking at all offensively. Got to keep shooting. Got to keep going out there and trying to work hard.”
Is it hard to believe this team could go through stretch of four games like this?
“Yeah. Yeah…. Well, maybe not. We’re so streaky. But next thing you know we’ll reel off six or seven straight. It’s hard. We’ve just got to try to find that consistency. I think those great players are the guys that are consistent pretty much the whole year.”
On not scoring again when Braves pitchers has a solid start
“Yeah, I feel like this has been the year of that, a year for us letting down our pitching staff. You know? In my mind, I feel like every time we lose it’s a three-run game or something like that where our pitchers go out and give a quality start and the next thing you know they’re leaving with a loss. It stinks. It stinks as an offense. It’s not fun at all. For me, it’s hard to look those guys in the face. What are you going to say? Sorry?”
On loading bases in first inning with one out, then K’s by Johnson and Gattis
“Yeah, we got nothing again. Two days in a row we got guys in scoring position and just couldn’t come up with that big hit.”
On getting no-hit yesterday, only scoring one run past few games, the law of averages says….
“We’re going to bust out, yeah. That’s what we thought, too. That’ll be our mentality coming in tomorrow, too. Try to bust out tomorrow. We know at some point we’re going to bust out. Hopefully it’s soon and hopefully it’s not too late.”
** JUSTIN UPTON
On what he did for the contusion after leaving game
“Put ice on it, ice it down, put some compression on it to get the swelling out. That’s it.”
Hit you in the left elbow?
“Just right above the elbow.”
The way you reacted, were you upset just over being hit generally?
“Well, I mean, you saw him for seven innings. He didn’t miss any spots. And that’s the second time he’s hit me in that same exact spot. So I guess he only misses his spots on me.”
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