Braves veteran Brandon McCarthy rebounded from two alarmingly bad starts to pitch six strong innings Wednesday night in a 4-1 win against the Cubs at SunTrust Park.
McCarthy allowed five hits, one run and two walks with a season-high eight strikeouts for the Braves, who snapped a four-game home losing streak and won for the 14th time in 20 games to improve their National League-best record to 26-16.
The efficient 85-pitch outing came after McCarthy got roughed up in consecutive losses to the Giants and Marlins in which he was torched for 23 hits, 14 runs and three homers in just 8-1/3 total innings.
This after he’d gone 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA in his first six starts.
Here’s what the 34-year-old said after Wednesday’s much-needed performance restored some confidence in him and allowed him to stop wondering and worrying about what had gone wrong in his previous two outings.
On rebounding from two bad starts to pitch six innings of one-run, four-hit ball
“It was nice, pitching-wise, to get back to what I feel like I can do, remember how to attack hitters better, but then mentally just peace of mind where I can breathe a little bit and not feel like you’re the anchor of the team. That starts to add up after a few bad starts in a row, so it was pretty frustrating and it’s good to get that out of the way.”
On manager Brian Snitker saying he thought recent struggles were from sinker not being as crisp and moving as well as it does normally
“Yeah, tonight it was much more about being aggressive in places that I wanted to be. I think I’d gotten a little lazy in the past few starts trying to let pitch movement do more than me actually hitting a spot and then making (the ball) move. So I tried to be much more committed in throwing to places. It just kind of evolved into a much more rounded outing than I’ve had in a while.”
On being efficient tonight, six innings in 85 pitches (56 strikes)
“Trying to focus more on hitting real spots than just hitting areas, I think. Sometimes I have success throwing a sinker to an area and a cutter to an area, and tonight I was much more trying to throw it to an exact spot. The mindset was much more committed and the ball was much livelier coming out of the hand, I think. It just puts a little bit more life into everything.”
On it being more important than just a typical regular-season start for the veteran, giving his recent struggles
“Yeah, whether that happened in June, July -- whenever that happens and you have a couple of bad ones in a row and you’re trying to figure out why, and it’s not immediately apparent, and you have to dig a little bit. But then you’re like, ok, hopefully there’s still something that I can do. It’s just getting that out of the way, and a reminder again that you can go down and then come back up. Just try and ride through the middle.”