The Braves’ Kris Medlen shut out the Marlins on Wednesday, 3-0.
Marlins give retiring Chipper fishing rod
MIAMI — The Miami Marlins want Chipper Jones to go fishing.
Truth is, they’ve probably felt that way for a while.
Jones, who has more logged more games, hits, home runs and RBIs against the Marlins than anyone else, added to his collection of going-away gifts from his final season before his last game in Miami on Wednesday night. The Marlins gave Jones a fancy fly-fishing rod and reel among other gifts in a pregame ceremony, one that also included a video tribute and greetings from Jeff Conine and Jose Reyes.
Jones has said he is retiring after the 2012 campaign ends.
“I don’t know why he wants to quit playing,” said Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who raved about things Jones did during Miami’s 4-3 win over Atlanta on Tuesday night. “To me, good. Yeah, get out of here. He plays against the Marlins very well.”
Very, very well — with better numbers in many categories than any Marlins opponent.
Jones played in his 244th game against the Marlins on Wednesday, 45 more than anyone has logged against the franchise to date. No Miami opponent has gotten more home runs (40 entering Wednesday), RBIs (165), hits (257), doubles (47), runs (152), at-bats (860) or walks (140) than Jones, who got his first taste of the majors in 1993 — the same season that the Marlins debuted.
“Chipper was very underrated in his career,” Guillen said.
Guillen and Jones were teammates in Atlanta in 1998 and 1999.
“He grew up with the right people around him,” Guillen said. “He grew up with tremendous management around him. He grew up a winner all his life — that’s very important. I think Chipper spent more time in the playoffs than any position player. Chipper played every day in his career for a reason. And now he gives the kids what they gave him, teaching respect, teaching how to play the game, how to be professional. Not too many people do that.”
This Atlanta season — which has no end in sight, given how the Braves are firmly ahead of the NL wild-card chase and aren’t out of the NL East race, either — has been a celebration of all things Chipper.
The New York Mets gave Jones — who has a son named Shea in a nod to the Mets’ former home park — a piece of 3-D artwork. Jones got a surfboard from the San Diego Padres, the Braves flag that flew over Wrigley Field in Chicago, his No. 10 from the famed scoreboard at Fenway Park and even a grill and year’s supply of bratwurst from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Jones said he was moved by how teams have tipped their caps.
“I’m not sure where I’ll put it all,” Jones said. “When people say that you’ve earned respect, that means everything to me.”
The Marlins created a stir in 2010 when they — unlike other clubs — did not publicly recognize the career of retiring manager Bobby Cox during his last appearance in Miami. The longtime Atlanta skipper had made comments critical of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria earlier that year after the team fired Fredi Gonzalez, now the Braves’ manager.
Gonzalez said Jones knows the time is right to step away.
“He’s had enough,” Gonzalez said. “He’s missed a lot of time with the kids. Believe me, you guys see the numbers, but there’s some days when you can tell that the knees are bothering him, the body’s bothering him, that it takes him a lot just to prepare for a game. But he’s had a hell of a year to go away with. Hopefully it lasts for a while.”
Among the other items Jones got from the Marlins on Wednesday night: A fly-fishing vest, a fly-tying kit, books on fly fishing, a hat with LCD lights so he can fish at dawn or dusk, a tackle box and a waterproof tote bag.
Guillen expects Jones to spend more time fishing than he does managing when his playing days end.
“Everybody loves Chipper. When you’re a manager, somebody will hate you,” Guillen said. “I wish he could stay in the game, yes. I wish he could manage, yes. We need people like that in baseball. … It’s going to be tough to replace him. But the Braves will always find somebody, somewhere. Chipper is just very special.”
MIAMI — Kris Medlen and Chipper Jones found themselves linked in baseball’s record books with Whitey Ford and Lou Gehrig.
More importantly to the Atlanta Braves, they just kept rolling along.
Medlen pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and the Braves won his start for the 21st straight time, beating the Miami Marlins 3-0 on Wednesday night. Jones went 1 for 4 in his final South Florida appearance, getting hit No. 2,721 to tie Gehrig for 58th on baseball’s career list.
“That’s the Iron Horse, man,” Jones said. “Just really honored to have as many hits in my career as one of the greatest in the game. Now we’ve got to work on passing him.”
Atlanta, closing in on securing at least an NL wild-card spot, has won 12 of its last 17 games.
The Marlins gave Jones a fly-fishing rod and a slew of accessories to commemorate his last game in Miami. They won’t have to worry about him anymore, but Medlen might be a problem for years to come.
Medlen (9-1) lost the first two starts of his career in 2009. He hasn’t taken a loss in any of his 26 starts since, with the Braves prevailing in the last 21 of those — making them the first team since the New York Yankees to have such a streak, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees won 22 straight times when Ford started from 1950 through 1953, a span interrupted by his service during the Korean War.
Medlen tried to dismiss any comparison with the Hall of Famer.
“Whitey Ford? Pfft. Let’s go. Come on. Don’t even say it,” Medlen said.
Medlen struck out six and walked one while lowering his ERA from 1.62 to 1.51. Rob Brantly doubled for Miami, which was shut out for the 16th time this season.
“Medlen threw the crap out of the ball,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We pitched well, but Medlen pitched better. I think this kid is, ‘Wow.’ He put on a show out there.”
The first of Medlen’s 10 starts this season was against Miami on July 31, when he allowed one run over five innings and the Braves picked up a 7-1 victory. Little did anyone know then how the next few weeks would go — he’s now 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA as a starter, as opposed to his 2.48 ERA in 54 1-3 innings in 38 relief appearances to start the season.
Medlen threw 99 pitches Wednesday, 66 for strikes.
“I thought he was good. I thought he was really good,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “Commanded the strike zone, both sides of the plate. We played some good (defense) behind him. … That’s a byproduct of Medlen pounding the strike zone, getting the ball, throwing the ball over and keeping guys on their toes.”
Atlanta also made sure he had the lead before even taking the mound. Michael Bourn led off the game with a double and scored two batters later on Jason Heyward’s sacrifice fly to center off Josh Johnson, whose woes continued.
Johnson (8-13) gave up five hits, three walks and three runs in six innings, striking out five. The Marlins have now lost seven of his last eight starts.
“First three innings it was all over the place, whether it was fouling balls off and getting deep into counts or getting a couple guys 0-2, 1-2 and then just letting them back in,” Johnson said. “You can’t do that.”
Dan Uggla scored in the second after drawing his NL-leading 89th walk, stealing second and coming around on Jose Constanza’s single to center. The lead went to 3-0 in the third when Atlanta made Johnson pay for another walk — a leadoff pass to Martin Prado turned into a run on Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly.
Medlen worked his way out of a little trouble in the fifth. Donovan Solano singled and went to third when Medlen’s one-out pickoff throw sailed past first base. But Medlen got Bryan Petersen to pop up into short center field — Uggla, the second baseman, had his throw home go up the third-base line, but Solano was held anyway — and then Gorkys Hernandez grounded to shortstop to end the inning.
Jones got an ovation from the crowd before his last at-bat in Miami, a groundout in the eighth. He tipped his helmet in acknowledgment, though his night wasn’t totally perfect.
He apparently forgot how many outs there were in the third, getting tagged out on a 7-4-3 relay by the Marlins to end the inning.
“That happens with age,” Guillen said.
NOTES: Jones has played more games (244) and collected more home runs (40), RBIs (165), hits (258), doubles (47) and walks (140) than any other opponent has against the Marlins. … The Marlins and Braves both have Thursday off. Miami plans to pitch RHP Jacob Turner in New York on Friday against LHP Jonathon Niese, while Atlanta is expected to start RHP Tommy Hanson in Philadelphia on Friday against RHP Kyle Kendrick. … Braves SS Paul Janish, who dislocated his left shoulder on Tuesday night, returned to Atlanta for evaluation. It’s unknown if he could be back before the end of the regular season.