ATLANTA - The adjustment from minor league starter to major league reliever was predictably difficult. The physical resistance that Braves pitcher Blaine Boyer was bound to hit was likewise foreseeable, he said.
After 39 appearances, the proverbial wall that all players hit, especially rookie relievers like Boyer, is inches from his face.
Pitches have become harder to throw with the symptoms of dreaded tired arm. As a result, his offerings have become easier to hit.
The timing of the wall's emergence is painful, though, he said.
"This is September. It's frustrating for me, because I want them to be able to count on me," Boyer said. "It kind of ticks me off that I feel like I've kind of choked the past few times out."
Boyer, using a 94-95 mph fastball that made his curve devastating, had 15 consecutive scoreless outings from Aug. 2-Sept. 3 to raise the team's eyebrows.
With dipping velocity closer to 90 mph, which undercuts his ability to fool with off-speed stuff, Boyer has sort of stumbled in recent weeks.
He blew a save Sept. 5 by giving up a run against New York, although a comeback wound up netting him a victory.
He gave up two runs Sept. 11 in Washington and another run two days later in a loss at Philadelphia.
He walked a batter and gave up a hit Sunday in New York.
After a couple of days off, Boyer said he expects to return to the form that earned him the respect of his fellow pitchers.
WHEN IN NEED: Chipper Jones reassured his wife that he'd hang around as long as possible as doctors induced labor on her Tuesday morning.
He did, so the third baseman arrived at Turner Field in the middle of the second inning. He'd missed his start, but pinch hit in the sixth and drew a bases-loaded walk that got Atlanta a much-needed second run in a 4-1 victory against Philadelphia.
"I had to help these guys," said Jones, whose fourth son remained nameless as of Wednesday afternoon. "It was a very important game for us."
Reach Travis Haney at email@example.com.
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