With season over, Braves look for GM, answers to nagging problems

With the baseball season over for the Atlanta Braves, and a new general manager yet to be named, just how many of the current players will be around next season? Several are under recently-signed multi-year contracts, like Freedie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Andrelton Simmons and Julio Teheran. Jason Heyward is signed for 2015, but becomes a free agent the following year. Then there's the Upton brothers. BJ is the most costly, with a contract that runs through 2017 at an average of $15 million a year. Justin Upton, who earns $14.5 million, is signed only through 2015. All of these players, barring trades, will be back. Many others who are arbitration eligible will also return. However, a half dozen others are free agents and are likely to be gone. They include late season acquisition Emilio Bonicacio, Ryan Doumit, Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang, Gerald Laird and Ervin Santana. Of course, the Braves can re-sign any, or all, of the free agents, but that is not likely.

Braves move High-A affiliate back to North Carolina

The Atlanta Braves are moving their High-A minor league team back to North Carolina. The affiliate, now in Lynchburg, Virginia, will re-locate to Zebulon, North Carolina. The move is designed to get the affiliate closer to the home offices in Atlanta, while keeping the team in the Carolina League. It was eighteen years ago that the Braves moved their High-A affiliate out of Durham, North Carolina.

MLB playoffs beginTuesday at Kansas City

The major league baseball playoffs get underway Tuesday when Kansas City hosts Oakland in the one-game wild card playoff in the American League. The winner of that game will play at Los Angeles on Thursday. The National League wildcard game will be played Wednesday when the Pirates host the Giants. That winner advances to play at Washington on Friday. Detroit plays at Baltimore in an American League division series beginning Friday, and the Cardinals visit the Dodgers, where 20-game winners Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright will face off in the first game.

Zimmerman gets Nats first no-hitter on final Sunday

Jarred Zimmerman pitched a no-hitter for the Washington Nationals on the last day of the regular season, and has defensive replacement Steven Souza, Jr. to thank. Souza, who entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, made a diving catch in centerfield to end the game. Zimmerman, who calls himself the least likely candidate for a no-hitter, pointed to his nearly a-hit-an-inning history as a big league pitcher. Zimmerman walked just one batter and struck out ten in the 1-0 win. The only run in the game came in the second inning when Ian Desmond hit his 24th home run. Although the Nationals collected eleven hits, they couldn't produce another run. It was the first no-hitter for the Nationals, and the first for the franchise since Dennis Martinez turned the trick in 1991 when the team was still in Montreal. In Cincinnati, the Reds' Johnny Cueto got his 20th win of the season in a 4-1 win over the Pirates, who had already clinched a wildcard spot.

Kimbrel leads NL in saves with two during final weekend

One positive came out of Atlanta's weekend series in Philadelphia. The Braves won Saturday and Sunday, enabling closer Craig Kimbrel to overtake the Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthat to lead the National League with 47 saves. Rosenthat, who did not pitch in the Cardinal's 1-0 Sunday win, finished with 45. Seattle's Frenando Rodney led the American, and the majors, with 48 saves. Johnny Cueto got a second chance at his 20th win, and the Cincinnati righthander didn't fail this time, joining the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (23) and the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (20) with 20-win seasons. There was no 20-game winner in the American League.

Jeter produces dramatic hit in final home game

Derek Jeter, the retiring captain of the New York Yankees, didn't write the script for last night's 6-5 win over Baltimore, but he couldn't have asked for a more exciting way to finish his last game before the home crowd. With the game tied at 5-all in the bottom of the ninth, Jeter had his first walk-off hit since 2007. As the winning run crossed the plate, Jeter was mobbed near second base by well wishers that included former teammates Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and his former manager Joe Torre. 48,613 fans who packed the house for a last look at Jeter, stayed around for post game celebrations as Jeter stayed on the field for several minutes, waving to the crowd and tipping his hat as an era ended in the Bronx.

Braves bullpen turns close game into a blowout

Twelve strikeouts and one run won't produce many wins, and last night at Turner Field, that's what happened to the Braves. The Pirates scored on a first inning home run off David Hale, and finished off the blowout with seven runs off two Atlanta relievers in the seventh and eighth innings in the 10-1 win. The Braves first four hitters in last night's lineup combined for nine of the strikeouts. Hale, starting in place of the injured Mike Minor, gave up just two of the Pirates runs in his 4-plus innings, but the bullpen collapse negated any Atlanta hopes in the final home game of the season. Atlanta's only run came in the bottom of the ninth when Ramiro Pena drove in Jason Heyward to prevent the shutout. The Braves finish the season this weekend in Philadelphia.

Braves win!! Braves win!!

The Braves snapped a five game losing streak last night in a 6-2 win over the Pirates. Julio Teheran pitched five innings and picked up his 14th win. Craig Kimbrel got a save although the Braves won by four runs. Kimbrel did not come into the game to begin the ninth inning with the Braves up 6-2, but manager Fredi Gonzalez brought him into the game after Jordan Walden retired just one batter and put two runners on base. Kimbrel struck out the next two batters, who represented the tying runs, to end the game. The save was Kimbrel's 45th of the season, although he has had few opportunities over the past two weeks. The Braves gave Teheran all the support he needed with two runs each in the second, third and fourth innings for a 6-0 lead. The Pirates' starter was Jeff Locke, a second round draft by the Braves in 2006 and played one minor league season in Rome. He was traded to the Pirates in 2009, along with Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez, in exchange for Nate McLouth.

McCann, Yankees join Braves on sidelines

Brian McCann can come on home to Atlanta and watch the playoffs with his former teammates. The New York Yankees, McCann's new team, has been eliminated from post season play after last night's 9-5 loss to division leading Baltimore. Two other former Braves are also on the Yankees, Mark Teixeira and Martin Prado. Kelly Johnson, who has played for both the Braves and Yankees, is now with Baltimore and will be heading to the playoffs. Clayton Kershaw solidified his bid for the Cy Young Award last night when he won his 21st game of the season against just three losses in the Dodgers' 9-1 win over the Giants. Kershaw will also get considerable support as the league's MVP. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals is the only other 20-game winner in the major leagues.

Braves final home game is tonight, Gattis will return to line-up

Atlanta fans, the few who attend the remaining home game tonight, could be getting a final look at Evan Gattis in a Braves uniform. Gattis, who has missed 16 games with what was first called strip throat then later re-diagnosed as a kidney stone, will catch David Hale in tonight's game against the Pirates. Hale will start in place of Mike Minor, who would have been the starter but he has been shut down for the remainder of the season. That actually amounted to one game for the lefty who was removed from his last start after one inning complaining of shoulder stiffness. Gattis, one of the most popular Braves, isn't likely to remain with the Braves who want to turn the catching over to Christian Bethancourt. Gattis is hitting .268 with 22 home runs in 362 at-bats.

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