McCann's power-hitting binge unabated

SEATTLE — Braves catcher Brian McCann said a recent hitting tip from his brother, plus years of major-league experience, have been the biggest factors in his recent power-hitting binge.

McCann had the first three of the Braves’ five hits in Monday’s 3-1 win against the Mariners, including his fifth homer in eight games. He and Freddie Freeman each hit homers off left-hander Erik Bedard, who previously had allowed only one homer by a left-handed hitter.

In 23 games before Tuesday, McCann had a .361 average with 10 homers and a .454 on-base percentage.

After hitting .283 with just two homers and a .362 slugging percentage in his first 38 games this season, he hit .336 with 12 homers and a .724 slugging percentage in his previous 32 before Tuesday.

McCann hit .333 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs in his first full season in 2006. Over the next four seasons, he hit 18, 23, 21 and 21 homers, but has not matched the career-high he set at age 22.

At his current pace, he could blow through that sometime in August.

His power surge began immediately after he got a tip from his brother, Brad, a former Marlins minor leaguer and Clemson All-American who works as a hitting instructor at their dad’s Windward Baseball Academy in Alpharetta.

Brad noticed something in his brother’s swing that was tying him up and not allowing him to drive pitches. McCann said the adjustment was small, the results dramatic. He hit two homers the next day, May 17 against Houston — a pinch-hit shot in the ninth inning to tie and another in the 11th to win.

Since June 5 he has gone more than two starts without a homer only once.

O’Flaherty’s return

The last time Eric O’Flaherty pitched in Seattle, he had a 20.25 ERA and wore a Mariners uniform.

Things were different Monday, when the Walla Walla, Wash., native returned as a vital cog in a Braves bullpen with the best ERA (2.64) in the major leagues before Tuesday.

After securing 35 tickets for friends and family members, O’Flaherty pitched a hitless eighth inning in Monday’s win. He trimmed his ERA to 1.24 — tied for second-best among National League relievers — and recorded his 15th hold, tied for third in the majors.

Not bad for a guy the Braves claimed off waivers from the Mariners after the 2008 season.

“I grew up in eastern Washington, about three hours from here,” said O’Flaherty, a sixth-round draft selection of the Mariners in 2003. “But I bought a bought a place here [in Seattle] like, three weeks before I got put on waivers. I live here in the offseason.”

Beachy on a roll

Showing no signs of the oblique strain that sidelined him five weeks, Brandon Beachy has 20 strikeouts in 12 innings during his first two starts back from the disabled list, including eight in six innings of Monday’s win.

He gave up three hits, one run and one walk against the Mariners and was removed after six innings because he had thrown 107 pitches.

“I’m wasting too many pitches,” he said. “I’d like to get deeper in games.”

Beachy (3-1) has been tremendous in his first season. He is 3-0 with 2.08 ERA and .179 opponents’ average in his past seven starts, and in six of those he allowed four hits or fewer in six innings or more.

He has 49 strikeouts with eight walks in 39 innings in that span.

Asencio optioned

Reliever Jairo Asencio was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to open a roster spot for Tommy Hanson, who came off the DL to start Tuesday night’s game. Asencio had a 6.97 ERA in six appearances.