If you thought homering off Roy Halladay in his major league debut — while his father was being interviewed on the television broadcast, no less — would be the highlight of Evan Gattis' rookie season, you were mistaken. The improbable rise of the 26-year-old catcher hasn't been slowed down since, and many more highlights have followed.
The past week, especially, has been remarkable for Gattis. On Saturday, his two-run pitch-hit home run in the eighth inning helped the Braves rally past for the Dodgers for a 3-1 win. On Tuesday night, Gattis did it again, hitting a two-out, pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the game. Atlanta then won 5-4 in 10 on Freddie Freeman's walkoff single.
How could he possibly top either of those big moments while starting for Brian McCann on Wednesday afternoon? Simple. He connected for his first career grand slam — 10th homer overall — to break the game open as the Braves completed their three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins with an 8-3 win.
That's about as good a five game stretch as a now part-time rookie can have. Unfortunately, though, it won't go down as a perfect stretch. He did commit one relatively large, but easily corrected mental blunder on Wednesday.
Fellow rookie Cory Rasmus (brother of Colby Rasmus) made his major league debut in the eighth inning in relief of starter of Paul Maholm. It went well, at least initially, as Rasmus finished the inning with a routine fly ball and his first career strikeout of Chris Colabello. Traditionally, that's a baseball that's thrown out of play so the pitcher can keep it as a momento. With the inning ending, however, Gattis held on to the ball.
Then, in a moment of complete unawareness (and equal hilarity), Gattis tossed the ball to a little girl sitting near the Braves dugout despite several of his teammates attempting to get his attention to stop his undoubtedly kind, but absentminded act.
Gattis quickly realized his mistake and joined in the pleas to get the baseball back. Fortunately for him, it was returned almost immediately with the little girl receiving a substitute ball. Good news, but that still didn't stop Gattis' teammates, and even manager Fredi Gonzalez, from reminding him about the brain cramp after the game.
All in good fun, of course.
''We've got to teach him a little more court awareness,'' Gonzalez quipped.
Not surprisingly, Gattis' teammates were ragging him about the faux pas in the clubhouse.
''I wasn't even thinking about it,'' he said, shaking his head. ''I don't know what to say.''
It's actually very easy to see how it could happen. With so much to think about as a game manager behind the plate, the last thing on his mind would be Rasmus' career milestone. Gattis' first instinct as a good-hearted ballplayer was to make a fan happy, so you can't fault him, either. But again, it might take a couple more game-tying home runs before he lives this one down.
As for how Rasmus' debut ended. Well, let's just say there were a couple more souvenirs involved. In the ninth inning, he allowed solo home runs to Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia. Thanks to Gattis, though, it didn't hurt the Braves one bit as their advantage remained plenty comfortable.
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