Braves reliever Cory Rasmus, 25, faced off against Blue Jays outfielder and his older brother Colby, 26, on Monday night for the first time since Cory was called up last week. Colby ripped a double off Cory.
Home sweet home?: With fewest home games in the NL, Braves wouldn’t know
The Braves’ 20 home games are the fewest in the National League, but at 15-5, their winning percentage of .750 in the best in the majors.
If the first-place Braves can come even close to that percentage for the long haul, the rest of the National League East could be in trouble.
After their present series with Toronto, the Braves have 61 of their remaining 111 games at home.
That looks like a recipe for success.
“When you have the last at-bat, it’s always an advantage,” first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Of course, you also have to win your share of road games, where you don’t bat last.
The Braves won their first seven games away from Turner Field, but are just 9-15 on the road since.
“We lost some games we thought we should have won, so it was important to have a good homestand,” third baseman Chris Johnson said.
The Braves did just that, sweeping the Dodgers and Twins in a pair of three-game series, then taking two of three from the Mets and one of two from the Blue Jays following Tuesday’s 7-6 win in extra innings.
Now there are plenty of home games left and no more long road trips remaining like the recent 10-game trip to Cincinnati, San Francisco and Arizona.
The Braves also finish the regular season at home, playing the Brewers and Phillies for seven games.
TORONTO — Columbus native Colby Rasmus couldn’t even really describe how it felt — he just knows it was the most bittersweet emotion he’s ever had while playing professional baseball.
“It was a strange feeling,” he told MLB.com on Monday night after the Blue Jays beat younger brother Cory and the Braves — complete with a head-to-head meeting between the siblings during the bottom of the seventh. “A lot of emotions going on. It was awesome and terrible at the same time.”
Colby, 26, got the better of younger brother Cory, 25, in their first-ever meeting in the majors when Colby ripped a double off his brother into left field. Cory was called up last week.
“I think that’s the first time he’s hit it to left all year,” Cory joked after the game, before adding: “It was still awesome. Me facing him — that was a lot of fun. It just (stinks) that he got a hit.”
The hit — which came during a 9-3 blowout win by the Blue Jays that night — was meaningless to most, but not to the Rasmus family, who were on hand and soaking in every moment of the historic and memorable meeting. It was the first time brothers faced each other since June 13, 2010, when Jered Weaver and Jeff Weaver squared off, while it’s believed to have happened just one other time in MLB history — in 2007 when Ruddy Lugo of Oakland twice faced his brother Julio Lugo of the Red Sox.
“For me, it’s a sense of fulfillment,” their father, Tony Rasmus, told MLB.com. “You set out on this journey way back to reach this point and to see both of them reach it, it’s a pretty big deal to know that they were determined to get here.
“To have a chance to have both of them on the same field is really pretty sweet.”
As for the lead up to the moment?
“I was sick to my stomach (with nerves),” Tony joked.
By the time Colby got to bat against his brother, Cory had already allowed a three-run homer — his third since being called up — to the Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion in the inning. Cory said his “gut-wrenched” when his older brother walked to the plate — and the feeling only got worse when Colby reached safely.
But Cory was only upset at himself for allowing more damage in a game that was quickly slipping away from the Braves.
“The fact that we lost — the outcome is the most important part. But me facing him was a lot of fun. It just sucks that he got a hit. I was going off what (catcher Brian McCann) put down. Obviously, I got behind in the count and had to make some quality pitches,” Cory told Reuters News Service. “He happened to get a fastball away and hit it that way, for a change. But that was a good piece of hitting by him. As excited as I was facing him, I’m sure everybody back home was just as excited.
“But like I said, at the end of the day, we lost. Obviously, I wish that had been a different story. Honestly, I wasn’t even looking at him (before he came up). I was just saying, ‘Let’s get some people out. Let’s get out of here.’ ”
Colby’s in his fifth year in the majors (St. Louis and Toronto), while newcomer Cory’s stay in Atlanta could last awhile with relivers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty out for the rest of the season. So far, however, he has an awful 12.27 ERA in just two appearances.
But none of that mattered Monday to either brother, both of whom were both realizing a dream just to be a part of that special moment — and glad to get it out of the way at the same time.
B.J. BENCHED: CF B.J. Upton did not play Monday or Tuesday as he works on his swing as he continues to struggle during his first season with the Braves.
He is batting .148 with four homers and eight RBI. He is working with hitting coach Greg Walker at getting his swing started on time.
“He may be the hardest-working guy I’ve been around,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to tinker with a swing, or make adjustments, and put him in the game and try to produce. But for me, great attitude, keeps working hard. You pull for those guys. You get your foot down on time, get ready to hit, get ready to attack, clears up a lot of the other stuff.”
Upton is expected to return when the Braves continue their home-and-home series with the Blue Jays tonight with Game 3 at Turner Field.
HEYWARD RESTS: RF Jason Heyward did not play in Monday’s 9-3 loss to the Blue Jays after playing nine games in a row after his return from an appendectomy.
“It’s simple,” Gonzalez said, “he’s played every single inning of every single game since he’s been back. Every chance we can, give somebody a breather.”
Heyward returned Tuesday, going 0-for-4
The Braves started a string of 20 games in a row without a day off with the start of its series Monday against the Blue Jays.
WALDEN UPDATE: Jordan Walden put up a perfect inning while striking out one as he started his rehabilitation assignment with Triple--A Gwinnett on Monday in a game against Syracuse. He has been out since May 12 with right shoulder inflammation.
AYALA ANXIOUS TO RETURN: RHP Luis Ayala (anxiety) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 25 after suffering anxiety while dealing with high blood pressure.
He was sent to Florida on Monday for strength and conditioning work after making five minor league rehab appearances with Triple-A Gwinnett and Double-A Mississippi.
Atlanta starter Beachy not looking sharp in rehab assignment for Braves post-Tommy John surgery
ATLANTA — Brandon Beachy threw just half of his 70 pitches for strikes and one of the balls went to the backstop for a run-scoring wild pitch.
But there was also plenty of good to build from as the Braves right-hander goes into his second minor league rehab start on Wednesday.
Beachy allowed two hits and two runs over four innings on Friday as he made his return to the mound in real game competition for Class AAA Gwinnett against visiting Toledo.
“I was a little uncomfortable. Just a little out of synch,” said Beachy, who had Tommy John surgery last June. “The feel is going to come as I get more comfortable out there.”
Beachy allowed a home run, struck out three and walked three. His fastball ranged from 92-95 mph on the scoreboard gun, but he was inconsistent with his secondary pitches and his control was erratic.
“I threw a lot of quality pitches, then, at times, it would get away,” he said.
All and all, Beachy was pleased.
“It was nice to be out there in a real game with fans in the seats and competing,” he said.
Before he makes a second start for Gwinnett, Beachy is scheduled to next pitch today for Class A Rome and then again June 3 for Class AA Mississippi at Chattanooga.
If he stays on schedule, Beachy would make what could be his last rehab start for Gwinnett on June 8. He has been hoping for a mid-June return to Atlanta and that still could happen.
Of course, the Braves, who lost to the Blue Jays, 9-3, Monday and then won, 7-6 on Tuesday, will have to make a decision when Beachy is ready to return. Julio Teheran, who took the open spot in the rotation, is 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA. The rookie had his fifth quality start in his past six outings Sunday night in New York, but the Mets rallied against the Braves bullpen in the eighth inning for a 4-2 victory.