Timely Evan Gattis homer powers Braves past Dodgers

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The Evan Gattis story keeps on getting better. With the Braves struggling to put together any kind of offensive threat against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, trailing 1-0 heading into the eighth, Evan Gattis provided a pinch-hit two-run home run against reliever Kenley Jansen to give the Braves the 2-1 lead and eventually the win.

A catcher by trade, Gattis was bumped down on the depth chart when Brian McCann returned from the DL after dealing with a shoulder injury. The Braves have tried to find a spot in the lineup for Gattis by slotting him in at first base and, more recently, left field when he isn’t riding the pine. The 26-year-old entered the night with seven home runs in 126 trips to the plate, the Braves’ best power threat thus far behind Justin Upton.

The Gattis story is quite interesting — he was a college baseball bust battling substance abuse, taking various odd jobs across the country, including working in a pizza parlor, as a parking valet, as a ski-lift operator, and as a janitor. He got the itch to play baseball again, earning a spot with the University of Texas of the Permian Basin team. He hit .403 with 11 home runs, which was good enough to merit a selection in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft by the Braves. Gattis quickly moved his way up the ladder and, with McCann on the sidelines throughout spring, earned a spot on the big league roster going into the 2013 season.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better redemption story, and even harder-pressed not to be happy for what Gattis is accomplishing on the field.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.