By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Atlanta made good on its offensive promise in Monday’s season-opener. The Braves hit three home runs and scored seven runs in a 7-5 win over Philadelphia.
In Pearl for an exhibition game on Saturday, former manager Bobby Cox said the lineup has a high ceiling, but the success of 2013 will still depend on what happens on the mound.
Tim Hudson led the way Monday. Tonight, former Marshall Academy and Mississippi State pitcher Paul Maholm will try keep the hitting-pitching balance against the Phillies. Maholm was traded from Chicago on the last day of July.
“I’m looking forward to obviously being around for a full year, to stay healthy, make my starts and go deep in the games, do whatever I can for the team to win,” Maholm said.
The Cubs eventually lost 101 games last season. Atlanta’s season ended in a one-game playoff to St. Louis. Maholm said he felt welcomed as soon as he got to Atlanta.
A Holly Springs native, Maholm grew up cheering for the Braves.
“It was cool, I loved my time in Chicago,” Maholm said, “but coming to Atlanta, the team I grew up rooting for, a team that won 94 games, being around a winning atmosphere and the fans.”
The season ended in a game against the Cardinals that may most be remembered for a controversial infield fly call as Atlanta was trying to build a late rally.
Maholm, a lefty, went 4-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts for Atlanta. Tonight he’ll face Roy Halladay.
“Maholm is one of the great additions to our staff,” Cox said. “He’s a full year type guy that gives you innings and keeps you in all the games. You can trust him and rely on him.”
The No. 8 pick in the 2003 draft, Maholm is coming off his best ERA since starting six games his rookie season in Pittsburgh. New to Atlanta, he’s still an eight-year veteran who will have some leadership role on a team without retired Chipper Jones for the first time since Maholm was 11 years old.
“We’ve got a lot of everyday guys, they’re going to speak up when it needs to be done,” he said, “a lot of guys that set an example of how to play, how to prepare.”