Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels watches as Atlanta Braves left fielder Evan Gattis rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Braves 3-2.
PHILADELPHIA — The way the weekend went for the Braves in Philadelphia, Evan Gattis gave them only a 486-foot reprieve from what’s been ailing them offensively.
The longest home run hit in the majors this season — and the first multi-homer game to add to the Gattis’ folklore — couldn’t stop the tide of a 3-2 loss to the Phillies and a weekend sweep.
A healthy gust of wind is all that separated Gattis from hitting three home runs in four pitches from Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, who gave up only two hits in eight innings on a pair of solo home runs by Gattis.
Gattis victimized Roy Halladay for his first major league home run on April 3 but that was child’s play next to what he did to Hamels’ 0-1 92 mph fastball for his 17th. Gattis rattled a steel girder at the base of the Budweiser Rooftop in straightaway center field at Citizens Bank Park — a patio area above the concourse that’s beyond the center field seats. ESPN Home Run tracker estimated the home run at 486 feet, beating the previous long hit this season of 476 feet by Giants right fielder Hunter Pence.
“I figured someone would hit one further, (Giancarlo) Stanton or somebody, but whatever, it all counts as one,” Gattis said. “And we lost the game today. Just ready to get after them in Miami.”
Pence had the benefit of light air at Coors Field. Hamels told reporters after Sunday’s game, he knows Gattis’ balls are gone in any ballpark. Gattis hit another one 385 feet to left field on a first-pitch curveball to tie the game 2-2 in the seventh.
“I felt like I was throwing a golf ball out there and he had a driver,” Hamels said. “He’s probably going to be in that strongest man competition at the end of the year. Definitely going to vote on him because he’ll win. It was impressive.”
Hamels dropped his head in the fifth, like he thought Gattis had taken him deep again, but center fielder Cesar Hernandez tracked that one down on the warning track.
“I guess if the 50 mph winds blowing in didn’t keep it in play, it definitely would have been off the wall,” Hamels said. “Or through it.”
FREDDIE A-OK: First baseman Freddie Freeman gave the Braves a scare when he banged his right knee into the wall in foul territory chasing a Kevin Frandsen foul ball during the eighth inning of Sunday’s loss. That’s the same knee that’s given Freeman chronic problems.
Freeman walked gingerly back to first base and was able to finish the game. He struck out to end the game in the ninth. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after the game Braves trainer Jeff Porter told him Freeman was fine, but it’s something they’ll continue to keep an eye on.
“It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to just manage a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “And hopefully down the road here we can give him a couple days, but nothing major.”
Freeman first injured his patellar tendon in that knee in 2010 in Triple-A Gwinnett and then hurt it again in spring training last year, subluxing his knee cap. Freeman sat out of a game Aug. 29 to rest it, snapping a streak of 36 consecutive starts.
BETANCOURT LAST CALL-UP OF YEAR FOR BRAVES: September is a chance for the Braves to get a glimpse at some of their top prospects for the future and now is that chance for catcher Christian Bethancourt, who is the final Braves call-up.
With Brian McCann likely headed for free agency, Bethancourt is a candidate to join Evan Gattis as the Braves top two catchers next season. Bethancourt has spent this season in Double-A Mississippi, working on his consistency at the plate, and responded by hitting .277 (99-for-358) with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs.
Bethancourt joined the Braves on Monday in Miami now that the Mississippi Braves’ season is over with their loss Sunday in the Double-A Southern League playoffs.
Bethancourt was selected to two consecutive Futures Games as one of the top young prospects in the minor leagues. He’s an athletic catcher with a dynamic arm, but the Braves wanted him to continue to progress offensively. This was his second season in Double-A, after he hit .243 in 71 games of an injury-riddled 2012 season.