Posted: 9:15 am Monday, June 16th, 2014
By Mark Bradley
We stipulate that a weekend does not an uprising — not a sustained one, anyway — make. But the Atlanta Braves did rally from four runs down to force extra innings Saturday night, and they did override a three-run deficit to win Sunday. They scored 17 runs on 35 hits over three games. They were 10-for-33 (.333) with runners in scoring position. For one of the few times in 2014, they looked as if they can really hit.
In a conversation before Friday’s game, hitting coach Greg Walker noted that, even as most of the team’s offensive statistics were depressing, there was one that might augur brighter tomorrows. When the Braves do hit the ball — as we know, they often don’t hit the ball — they tend to hit it hard. “We make more hard contact than any team,” said Walker, citing a statistical study.” Like most baseball men, Walker believes that hitting the ball hard enough often enough will ultimately yield results.
This isn’t to say that things, as the old and erroneous saw has it, will eventually even out. Andrelton Simmons hit the ball hard three times Saturday and made four outs: His liner was gloved by a leaping Erick Aybar; his grounder in the hole was snagged by the same Aybar, and a smash to third base became a lineout double play. (Then again, Jason Heyward did tie the game in the 10th inning with a broken-bat single.).
The Braves struck out 30 times over the three games, and that isn’t apt to change. As Walker said: “We knew in the spring we would possibly be a streaky team. We knew we’d be a high-strikeout team. We did that last year, but when we got hot we were unbeatable. We haven’t had that hot streak this year; hopefully we will.”
Maybe this was the start of the something. Maybe it wasn’t. Whatever it was, it came at a needed moment — the Braves had won only one of their previous six series — and enabled them to reclaim first place in the National League East. They head to Washington D.C. for four games starting Thursday.
From myajc.com: Chipper on the Braves: “The offense has struggled.”