We knew that (backup-filled) lineup would score runs (kidding)
“Quick-strike lineup. Quick strike and play defense. That’s the strategy. Dean Smith, hold the ball.” (laughter)
On Elliot Johnson’s first series with Braves
“He’s a baseball player. You hate to throw around titles like that, but he’s a baseball player. He’s not going to light you up, but he’s going to do the steady things. He can run the bases, he’s heads-up, have some awareness of what’s going on around him. Janish is the same way at third or (anywhere) on the infield. Simmons is just that type of player. So it was nice.
“Mikey (Minor) did a terrific job, and we were able to get three runs early and then add on runs in the seventh and the eighth innings. With that (Cardinals) offense it scares you every time they come up, so…
“It was a nice game to win after losing three here. Nice way to win.”
On bringing in Kimbrel with two out in the eighth
“First time we’ve used Kimbrel for a four-out save this year, and that was nice to see. We may have to do that come postseason, if we’re lucky to get in. We may have to use him in that situation. He hasn’t pitched in three or four days, and with the off day tomorrow, it was a perfect day to try to do it.”
Did you think the extra couple of days of rest helped Minor?
“I think so. I think anytime you can give a pitcher rest, especially this time of year, it’s going to be beneficial. I told him when he walked off, I said, you didn’t forget how to pitch, after about eight days. He did a nice job. He competes every time out. We were able to give him a little cushion in the beginning, and he did a nice job.”
On Schafer getting a couple of extra-base hits, having a big day
“Yeah, Schafe had the leadoff triple, then he got a double, made some nice plays defensively. I think we ran all the outfielders out there in double-switches and for defensive stuff. But he does a nice job; it’s nice to know that he can play all three positions in the outfield, along with Cunningham, who can do that. And (Justin) Upton can play the corners. So it’s nice to have that flexibility.”
On Minor pitching like a “stopper” today, preventing the losing streak from reaching four
“The guys that are developing into those big-time (pitchers), the Wainwrights of the world and the Kershaws of the world, they stop losing streaks and they extend winning streaks. He’s becoming one of those guys.”
Avilan wasn’t hurt, that’s not why you brought in Kimbrel with two out in eighth?
“No, no, no. Just try and get four outs, get Kimbrel four outs. And I didn’t want to use the other right-handers in that situation. And it was perfect timing; he hadn’t pitched since New York, he had three days off. And you feel pretty good with him against Molina, instead of trying to bring in Ayala or Walden or one of those guys in that situation. And with a day off tomorrow, it made a lot of sense.”
Looking forward to having Uggla back with corrected eyes next series?
“Yeah, I think he’ll be fine. I think he’s eligible Wednesday to come off (the DL). He’s going to play a couple of games hopefully in Triple-A, and I’ll mention again to him that if he needs a third game, we’ll give him a third game. But right now the plan is only for two.”
Schafer today similar to what he was before his 5 weeks on DL?
“Yeah, he can do a lot of stuff. He can beat you with the bat, with his legs, and defensively.”
On having a couple extra days of rest
“I felt good. At the beginning of the game I didn’t feel that great mechanically. It was like the third or fourth inning I started feeling like I was pounding the zone, hitting more spots. You could tell from the first pitch, at Carpenter’s head, it wasn’t that great at the beginning. But my defense helped me out, got some fly balls that stayed in the park, and a double play.”
On the backup-filled lineup scoring some runs
“Yeah, we got some runs on the board today. They were kind of blanking us the last couple of days, only got a couple of runs.”
How important to win today, to avoid being swept
“I didn’t really think about avoiding being swept. Every game, you go out there and try to win. There wasn’t any added pressure. Obviously we wanted to get a win.”
Aces tend to stop losing streaks for their teams, that in back of your mind?
“Not really. I don’t really look at myself as the ace of this team. I think everybody goes out there and tries to win, tries to bring your best stuff. It was one of those days where we needed to win, we didn’t want to get swept, but it wasn’t any added pressure.”
On his first series with Braves, how nice it was to help them win a big game today
“Absolutely. They brought me over there. I know they had a ton of injuries, but any time you get an opportunity to play you want to help the team win, obviously. Every day that you put forth some production, I think it increases your value. So you’ve got to make the most of the opportunities that are given to you. You never know how many more you’re going to get.”
On getting some hits in first games with Braves, after going 1-for-51 in his last couple months with Royals
“Well, it’s nice to have a fresh start, you know what I mean? You come over here to a new league and you get to start over fresh, you’re not having to play catch-up. When you get down that bad, you’ve really got to approach it as, every day is a new day, let’s see what I can do from here on out, see if I can put together a solid season from here out, because I can’t change what’s already been done.
“I’ve done it before. It’s never fun, but you can’t let it affect you, and you certainly don’t want to let it affect you on defense. I think I’ve done a good job of separating the two.”
** CRAIG KIMBREL
On the four-out save, first of season
“They let me know beforehand, to be ready for it. And I was, and was able to go out there and be efficient and not throw too many pitches. That’s kind of nice on a hot day like today.”
When did you start warming up in a situation like this?
“Whenever they call. I don’t get on the mound and start throwing until they call. My preparation is just to stretch and be ready when the time comes.”
They said might happen in series, or today?
“They called during the game at one point, said it might happen, so just don’t be caught off-guard. So I wasn’t, and was able to go out there and finish the game.”
On difference in going more than three outs
“It’s a little different sitting in the dugout, I tell you that. I found myself talking and joking around, and I said, wait, I’ve still got three more outs to go get. But I was able to get back in the zone and go back out there and go 1-2-3.”
You ready to do that in the postseason if necessary?
“I’m ready to do that a lot.”
On his big game
“Any time you can contribute, it’s fun. You’re just trying to contribute any way you can to help the team win.”
You said before the game that you were getting close to feeling like you did before the DL stint. Today more of that?
“Yeah, I’m getting close. I’m still not there yet, but it’s getting close. I’m starting to get some timing back. It’s kind of me just having like a calm, slow intensity, where I can slow everything down but can still be intense at the plate. Once I can get that back, I’ll be fine. I just need those at-bats.”
Though you guys still had a huge lead, was this an important game to win after losing first three in the series?
“Yeah, you don’t want to get swept, especially by a team that’s probably going to be a playoff team that you have the potential of seeing. You don’t want them to have that confidence if you face them in the playoffs. It was a big win for us. We just need to get back to playing good baseball, and we’ll be fine.”
On Minor’s performance, confidence in him in these situations?
“I have confidence in all of our guys. All of our guys have threw well, from our starters to our bullpen. I mean, if we score runs, there’s a really good chance we’re going to win, because our pitching’s been that good. The pressure’s on us to go out there and score runs, especially when the other team knows how good our pitching’s been. If we get runs early, it puts the pressure on them.”