KANSAS CITY — Quotes from Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel, Kris Medlen and manager Fredi Gonzalez following the Braves’ 4-3 win Tuesday against the Royals.
Surprised to get a third consecutive curveball from Tim Collins after falling behind 0-2 against the lefty?
“Actually I wasn’t looking for that one. I wasn’t necessarily looking for it, but I was on time, didn’t miss that one, obviously, with two strikes. It was a big hit.”
On his good month, despite some struggles in past week and a half
“It’s building. It’s going to take time. It’s going to require analyzing it, making sure I know what’s going on, be very aware of how I feel up there and what I need to tweak. But it’s definitely steps in the right direction.”
On the team’s four consecutive hits and three runs against Santana to start fifth
“We had some good at-bats there. We got some pitches to hit. We made sure we were patient enough to get a good pitch, and then with guys on base and less than two (outs), we just wanted to get them in. I just happened to throw that one down the line.”
Nice having your first three-RBI game of season, on night when all three were crucial?
“Oh, yeah. They were able to jump back (into tie) after the homer by Hosmer. After that, Med threw well enough to hold them and win this game. He kept them there, and we were able to get one more and hold them the rest of the way.”
On Kimbrel’s highwire act
“You better have confidence in your teammates. You know he’s going to battle every time, and you don’t question that, and you want to be right there with him.”
That pitch hit you on the elbow?
“Dead on my elbow. I thought it hit the bat, the way it sounded.” (But it didn’t.)
On the funny bone, or not-funny bone?
“Not funny bone. It went numb till I got down there (to first base) for a couple of minutes and moved it around.”
Think it’ll be all right tomorrow?
“I’ll let you know.” (Smile.)
On Kimbrel’s high-wire act in ninth
“Something he hasn’t done in a while, walk the leadoff hitter. We did it in the eighth also. In one-run ballgames, that’s tough duty. Both times we wiggled out of it. We throw a ball away in the eighth and Walden does a great job getting out of there. And we get first and third with one out in the ninth and a pretty good hitter up, and we got out of it. Those are not the way you draw it up, but we’ll take it.”
On Heyward’s first three-RBI game of season
“He’s been swinging. He’s quietly having a pretty good month of June.”
He OK after getting hit in elbow by pitch?
“Yeah, I think it just hit him on the top of the elbow, from what I gather. It was a breaking ball, so I think he should be fine.”
On the homer off a lefty (Collins) who hadn’t given up one all season by a lefty batter
“He hung him a breaking ball. He does that, and Jason, he hangs in there against lefty and he’s got enough juice where he can run one out of there.”
On Medlen striking out side in seventh, finishing strong after the homer in fifth
“He did a nice job. He gave us a great opportunity to win the game, and I’m glad we were able to hold on. Because he’s had some tough luck early on in the season, with not getting any run support. And today we gave him a lead and even though he gave up a two-run homer to Hosmer, he got it right back. It was nice for us to go back out there and get the lead, and hold it.”
On Justin Upton opposite-field double in first game back after sore hand
“Great at-bats today, absolutely. The double and the rocket to the second baseman there in the ninth that they turned two on. Those are good signs to see. B.J. had a knock, Danny got a base hit, Chris Johnson – we swung the bats all the way up and down the lineup.”
Schafer sparked fifth by driving in first run off Santana, who’d only given up three earned all of June
“He had a big double. Made a nice play look easy down the left-field line, had to run a long way and made that look easy. He’s getting an opportunity to play, a couple of games in Milwaukee because Justin’s been out, and using the DH here. Who knows, I may run him back out there tomorrow.”
On his performance
“I felt like I was locating well. When I left the ball over the plate – you can’t dare guys to hit 89 (mph), it doesn’t work out in your favor. When I made a mistake, they put some pretty good swings on it. But I think I established the inside corner pretty well against those lefties, and the second and third time through I felt like my changeup was a pretty good pitch, or they might have started to try to cheat (inside).”
On homer by Hosmer
“Just trying to go with a four-seamer. Even if I located it, it would have been up. You can change his eye level that way, but, I mean, letter-high and just … cake ball. Not a good pitch, especially after us getting a lead like that. You want your guys to get back in the dugout and keep swinging it. But J-Hey put a good swing on that ball (for 4-3 lead) and then Craig doing his thing.”
On what if he had Kimbrel’s stuff
“I’d locate better, so I’d be way better than him. (Laughter.) No, but I was talking to Schafe about that. I mean, the guys we’re bringing in out of the ‘pen throwing ’97. Walden throwing 100. You know how stressful it is trying to locate 89 every pitch? (Laughter.) It’s not very fun. But it’s a tough skill to do, and I think it’s why I’m hanging around. I just try to locate and I think when I do well, I do that more often than not.”
On striking out side in seventh after Heyward’s homer in top of inning
“You can’t give up two leads, and for J-Hey to come up and hit that ball – I knew I had to have a nail-down inning. I established the inside part of the plate, whether I hit that every time or at least showed them inside, to get them off the plate, it set up my changeup later in the game, and I think that’s what I got all three guys with that last inning.”
On Heyward’s big night
“Obviously he started slow (this season), but he’s a guy who has too good of tools to not hit well. He’s always been playing good defense. As a pitcher, obviously you’d like guys to score a bunch of runs. But when they’re out there making diving plays and making really good plays on defense, I mean, that’s all you can really ask for. But yeah, he’s starting to swing the bat and turn things around for himself.”
Just wanted to have a little fun there in ninth, putting two on with none out?
“No, not at all. I’d much rather it be 1-2-3. Whenever you walk the leadoff hitter in a one-run ballgame, it’s kind of a sticky situation. But we were able to work out of it. Mac called some good pitches, and that’s why we got out of it.”
On having no wiggle room, every pitch becomes even more focused?
“You’re already focused as it is, but you start throwing pitches, especially with second and third and nobody out, you really don’t want them to put the ball in play. So you start throwing some pitches that you feel like they’re going to swing and miss or foul off.”
More of adrenaline rush after working out of a jam like that?
“Of course. I was that close to giving up the game, and then a few batters later we won the game. Any time that happens, I definitely get excited. Not for myself, but for the team.”