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A season ago, the Atlanta Braves didn’t know what to make of rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez. After he shut them down Tuesday night, they fell over each other heaping praise on one of the game’s top young players.
Fernandez matched his career high with 14 strikeouts, allowing three hits (all singles) and walking none over eight innings, combining with closer Steve Cishek for a 1-0 victory by the Miami Marlins. He didn’t hit any home runs this time, but Fernandez also went 1 for 3 at the plate.
The Braves expressed no sour grapes whatsoever. Nothing like, “We missed our chances,” or “The ump was blind,” or “Lucky kid.” Via the Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , it was all happy talk.
• “He pitched amazing. We went up against a buzz saw today” — Chris Johnson
• Braves hitters “were coming back shaking their heads” — Manager Fredi Gonzalez
• “He’s got the capability of running those type of games out every time he goes out”— Gonzalez
• “It sucks to be on the wrong end of it, but from a pitching standpoint it doesn’t get any more fun than that – I think he’ll probably tell you the same thing” — Alex Wood.
(Wood, it should be noted, pitched nearly as well as Fernandez: Eight innings, a run and four hits allowed, along with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Add three more combined strikeouts from the relief pitchers and that’s 28 K’s and zero walks. And Wood did absolutely nothing controversial that might have disrespected the game. OK, back to the Braves praising Fernandez.)
And one more, from his couch, the great Chipper Jones:
Wow. Guys like this make me glad I retired. He is D-irt-eeee! — Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) April 23, 2014
A cynic might wonder: What are they getting at? What happened this past September definitely seemed like bygones, when Hernandez hit his first major league home run against the Braves, who didn’t seem to like him very much. Fernandez tangled with Brian McCann and Johnson over some unwritten rules violations, which otherwise overshadowed Fernandez’s fine performance. Fernandez and Johnson even seemed to spit at each other as Fernandez rounded the third-base bag. McCann blocked Fernandez from going to the dugout until he heard what McCann had to say. Of course, the Braves had ignored teammate Evan Gattis staring at a home run that he had hit against Fernandez earlier in the game, which had goaded Fernandez to reply, but whatever.
Fernandez, 21 at the time, took what McCann said to heart, offering genuine apologies after the game for his part in escalating the tensions, and the Braves seemed to accept it.
In the rematch, Fernandez did nothing obvious to show up the Braves — other than making them look bad at the plate. There was no rubbing it in, like other players might. In fact, Fernandez gave credit to his catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, for doing whatever it is he does behind the plate, and to luck being on his side. Showboating is not for Fernandez anymore, which is fine.
And if it gives the Braves etiquette committee nothing to work with, we’re all better for it.
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David Brown is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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Post info: By Chipper on April 23rd, 2014
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Normally when a former top prospect gets off to a tidy 1.80/1.00 start on the mound, everyone sits back, relaxes, enjoys the ride. But we’re seeing an interesting divergence of opinion on Julio Teheran .
Teheran’s latest start was a seven-inning dandy against the Marlins on Monday (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8). He had to settle a no-decision when Craig Kimbrel struggled in the ninth, but nonetheless this was a fun, useful line for all formats. We could be upon the stardom campaign the scouting hounds have been waiting for – Teheran was a Top 5 prospect on pretty much everyone’s clipboard back in 2011-2012.
Alas, there are chinks in the armor when you look under the hood. Teheran’s fastball velocity is down thus far in 2014 (it’s anywhere from a 1.5 mph drop to a 0.8 mph drop, depending on where you get your radar love ), and his secondary numbers (.240 BABIP, just 5.4 K/9, 7.1 HR/FB) don’t fully support the 1.80 ERA. Most of the ERA estimators say Teheran should have a number in the high 3s or low 4s right now; the projection system Pecota calls for a 4.17 ERA (whoa, Nelly) the rest of the way.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 22nd, 2014
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LOS ANGELES — Pitcher Cliff Lee recovered from two frustrating outings to deliver his most dominant performance of the season. Lee and pitcher Jeff Manship combined on a four-hit shutout to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night in front of 37,715 at Dodger Stadium. “The way Cliff was going,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, “four runs felt like 10.” In his past two starts, Lee allowed a total of four earned runs and 19 hits in 15 innings of losses to the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 22nd, 2014
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The Phillies again salvaged the final game of a three-game set to avoid being swept, and after starting their 10-game West Coast road trip 1-2 at Coors Field, they begin a four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. Here are five things you need to know about the late tilt between the Phils and Dodgers (10:10 p.m./CSN): The Dodgers have a $230 million payroll and a 12-7 record. The Phillies are their first non-divisional National League opponent this season.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 21st, 2014
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NEW YORK — A slow start in his first season with the New York Mets has made right fielder Curtis Granderson a popular target for unhappy fans at Citi Field. But he was reminded that his Mets teammates remain quite fond of him late Sunday afternoon, when Granderson was mobbed at first base — and even carried a few feet by catcher Anthony Recker — after his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 14th inning gave the Mets a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. “There is not a finer guy that you’d ever want to have on your team than him,” Mets manager Terry Collins said of Granderson, whose community service work earned him the Marvin Miller Award in 2009 as well as a pair of nominations for the Branch Rickey Award. The game-winning RBI didn’t officially end a mammoth slump for Granderson, who signed a four-year, $60 million deal in December.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 21st, 2014
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Wherever Carlos Gomez goes, drama and hot tempers are sure to follow.
The animated Milwaukee Brewers outfielder, who has rubbed more than his fair share of opponents the wrong way with his antics, found himself in the middle of another benches clearing situation on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, and this time it escalated into a full scale baseball.
The melee happened in the third inning right after Gomez bat flipped and admired what he thought was a home run off the bat. The baseball ended up hitting high off the center field wall at PNC Park, leaving Gomez to settle for a triple. And waiting for him there to express his displeasure with his antics was the man who served it up, Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole.
A shouting match ensued and the situation escalated quickly after Gomez charged towards the gathering of Pirates separating him from Cole throwing wild hay-makers. Pirates outfielder Travis Snider cut off the barrage by throwing Gomez to the ground, which seemed to end the first phase of the brawl. After some standing around and more jawing, Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin tried getting at Gomez but was restrained by teammate Gaby Sanchez.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 20th, 2014
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NEW YORK — Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had to worry about pitch counts again Saturday night – except this time for a closer trying to finish the ninth inning instead of a starter trying to complete a no-hitter. Braves All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel inherited a four-run lead in the ninth inning but was pulled after allowing two runs and leaving the bases loaded for right-hander Jordan Walden, who notched the save by retiring New York Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder to short to complete Atlanta’s 7-5 win at Citi Field. Gonzalez said Kimbrel, who hadn’t pitched since Apr. 12 due to right shoulder soreness, was going to pitch no matter what on Saturday.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 20th, 2014
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The Washington Nationals activated outfielder Denard Span from the seven-day disabled list Saturday after recovering from a concussion.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 19th, 2014
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Aaron Hill was having a miserable night at the plate until he got one more chance to redeem himself. Hill hit a two-run single in the 12th inning and Miguel Montero homered, leading the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. To do it, the Diamondbacks had to overcome Juan Uribe’s tying homer in the ninth off closer Addison Reed. ”But every day these guys come in with a great attitude, and it doesn’t matter if it’s extra innings or not.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 19th, 2014
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An 8-year-old boy from Atlanta named Wyatt Alford came to spring training in Sarasota, Fla. and saw left-hander Brian Matusz pitch for the Baltimore Orioles. Alford didn’t know until the next morning by reading a newspaper that they have something important in common: They both have severe nut allergies. Matusz still gets teased about it by his teammates, and suspects Alford has gone through similar treatment. But it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Matusz says.
Inspired by watching Matusz, 27, succeed in Major League Baseball, the young boy became an instant fan and mailed him some unique items to autograph. As a result, Matusz, too, became a big fan of Alford’s.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported the details of a neat acquaintance between a boy and a ballplayer:

Inside the envelope was a newspaper article detailing Matusz’s frightening allergic reaction to a dinner prepared in peanut oil March 9 that sent the 27-year-old left-hander to the emergency room.

Also included in the package was a portable shot of epinephrine that allergy sufferers carry in case of a reaction. Although similar in content to the ubiquitous EpiPen, the Auvi-Q inside Matusz’s envelope was instead square and flat like a thick credit card — easy for autographing — and included audio instructions for injecting it.

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Post info: By Chipper on April 18th, 2014
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