ATLANTA -- Tyler Flowers certainly didn't instantaneously become some kind of pinch-hitting guru. But the Braves' catcher now at least has a sense of the euphoria one can feel after coming off the bench to deliver a decisive blow with one mighty swing of the bat.
Given a chance to help the Braves continue being a pesky thorn in the side of the Majors' best team, Flowers propelled the Braves to Wednesday night's 5-3 win over the Dodgers with a two-out, two-run home run off Pedro Baez in the eighth inning. He didn't need to be told this marked the first time he went deep during a pinch-hit at-bat. He had come off the bench to record just one other hit in his career.
"That's not like just in my professional, big league career," Flowers said. That's like two [pinch-hits] ever. It hasn't been very kind to me."
Flowers' first pinch-hit homer was the sixth hit this season by the Braves, which is tied for the Major League lead. The Braves have now accounted for each of the three losses the Dodgers have suffered within their past 23 games.
After Johan Camargo drew a two-out walk to extend the eighth inning with the game tied at 3, Braves manager Brian Snitker called upon Flowers. Snitker didn't have another catcher available if something would have happened to starting catcher Kurt Suzuki later in the game. Nor was he deterred by the fact Flowers was just 1-for-17 in his career as a pinch-hitter. He was looking for a big swing and got it courtesy of the one placed against Baez's first-pitch slider that stayed up and out over the plate.
"I was trying to hit a ground ball to the right side," Flowers said. "The second baseman was kind of shifted over. That's somewhat typically my game anyway, trying to think the other way and react to and let the timing dictate kind of where it goes. I was trying to shoot that hole and turn the lineup over."
Instead, Flowers was given a chance to casually watch his opposite-field home run travel a projected 361 feet into the right-field seats. Per Statcast™, this was the third shortest of the nine homers he has tallied this season. But it was also one of the more gratifying for the veteran catcher, who admits he is far from comfortable when asked to pinch-hit.
Flowers has recorded eight of his 18 career pinch-hit appearances this year and many of those opportunities came during the early portion of this season, when the Braves were carrying three catchers.
"The hardest thing is just controlling your emotions and heart rate when you get in there," Flowers said. "That seems kind of weird because the first at-bat of a game I start, I don't feel that way. But for whatever reason, you build up that situation to be more than it is. I've definitely gotten better at that, to where I feel I can have an approach and stick to it."