ATLANTA Taking three cuts after the Braves 9-2 win over the Phillies at Turner Field on Wednesday night.
1. Welcome to the show, El Oso Blanco
The Evan Gattis story has been told time after time.
A former Texas A&M recruit who ultimately left the game for four years, Gattis worked at a ski resort, a pizza parlor and as a janitor. He finally returned to baseball and built a Paul Bunyan-esque legend among Braves fans -- which included earning the nickname El Oso Blanco (The White Bear) in the Venezuela Winter League -- en route to making the roster.
The 26-year-old rookie catcher added to his unbelievable comeback in his major-league debut, homering off Halladay in the fourth inning for his first career hit.
Did you think anything else was going to happen? manager Fredi Gonzalez said. It didnt surprise me one bit.
Facing a 1-1 count, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Gattis took an 88-mph cutter from the eight-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner, and drove it to right 380 feet to left center.
A name like that, it (makes it more special), Gattis said.
He is the first Braves player to homer in his debut since Jason Heyward in 2010 and the seventh all-time, also joining Bob Horner (1978), Jermaine Dye (1996), Marty Malloy (1998), Jeff Francoeur (2005) and Jordan Schafer (10).
In a bit of an ironic twist, the man who caught Gattis home run ball was wearing an Aggies hat. He met with Gattis afterward and traded him the ball for one signed by the rookie.
It was kind of funny, supposedly he like walked out there and was like Im going to go to right field, Gattis said. Its crazy.
2. Justin Upton is feeling it early
It took Upton 14 games to hit his first home run last season for the Diamondbacks, and another six before he had gone deep twice.
He only needed five at-bats to hit that many homers in a Braves uniform as Upton followed up his solo shot in Mondays victory with a two-run HR off Roy Halladay in the second inning.
Its two games but he is (doing what we expected), Heyward said. Hes done it and were not surprised to see him do it now, and happy for him to come up and put us ahead right there with a two-run home run off Roy, because it he settles in, I feel like there could have been a few more strikeouts than not.
Heywards right, it is a very small sample size in a 162-game season but its a good sign that last season was simply an aberration.
In 2011, Upton was an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger Award after hitting .289 with 31 home runs, 39 doubles, 88 RBI and a .898 OPS and while he did hit .280 last year, his power numbers dropped dramatically as he hit 17 homers and had 67 RBI and a .785 OPS.
But through two games in Atlanta, Upton is 2-for-7 with three RBI, continuing his hot play from spring training as he hit six home runs which among the Braves trailed only Freddie Freemans seven and drove in 19 runs.
The youngest Upton brother became the first Brave to homer in each of the first two games of the season since Brian McCann in 2007.
While Justin Upton has thrived, his older brother B.J., who was also acquired in the offseason, has yet to get a hit. He went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Tuesday after going 0-for-4 with one K in the opener.
3. Paul Maholm got the start to a season he was waiting for
The Braves starter sizzled in Grapefruit League play, going 4-1 with a 1.53 ERA in seven starts and he didnt allow an earned run in his final 24 23 innings.
After that spring dominance, Maholm seemed poised to avoid a replay of his first starts of 12. The former Cub allowed six hits and six earned runs and struck out two in losses to the Brewers and Cardinals.
Last year, my first two starts I got shelled, Maholm said. My goal now is just to be consistent throughout the year.
He delivered in his firs April start with the Braves, scattering six hits over 5 23 scoreless innings as he struck out six and walked one in 97 pitches.
Maholm also worked his way out of trouble, getting Michael Young to ground out in the first inning with Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard on first and third, respectively and in the third he struck out Halladay to end the inning with Domonic Brown on third.
He did a nice job, Gonzalez said. We got him right where we wanted to, right around 100 pitches and he did a fantastic job.