The Atlanta Braves are not necessarily in trouble after the team’s series with the Colorado Rockies ended with a disappointing 6-5 loss in twelve innings, but the team’s 4-5 record over the past three series with the Royals, Pirates, and Rockies definitely let the players and fans alike know that they are not unstoppable by any means.
One of the biggest problems that plagued Atlanta over the last nine games came from their offense’s inability to avoid the dreaded “K”. The past three series saw the team’s hitters strike out a grand total of 81 times, which seems to go be unnoticed when the team puts up gaudy run totals, like Wednesday’s 10-2 victory over Colorado, but serves as an attention-grabber when the loss is unbelievably discouraging, like last Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. The Braves will have to find a way to at least make contact in their at-bats as the season progresses, or else some the top pitching staffs in the National League will go through them like a hot knife through butter.
As if the inconsistency of the hitters was not a large enough problem for the Braves, several of the big bats for the team have come up with notable ailments over the past few days. One of the major scares for the team came Monday night following the cancellation of the opening game of the three-game series against the Rockies, as right fielder Jason Heyward was sent to the hospital in need of an appendectomy. The injury has left Heyward, who is hitting .121 with 7 hits and 12 strikeouts so far this season, on the 15-day disabled list.
Another Brave that has been battling injuries is second baseman Dan Uggla, whose calf injury over the last three games is concerning for manager Fredi Gonzalez and the rest of the club. Although the injury does not appear to be serious, this may be a perfect time for Gonzalez to sit Uggla, who holds a disappointing .167 batting average with 4 home runs and 23 strikeouts, for a spell, giving him the chance to recover and possibly figure out how to make his unusual batting stance produce a few more knocks.
Atlanta is about to have its first real test of the season starting on Friday, when the team starts its first of twenty consecutive days with a game. Included in these twenty games is matchups with some of the most talented teams in Major League Baseball, which sees the Braves take on four of the six division winners from 2012 in the Tigers, Nationals, Reds, and Giants. If the team is able to go toe-to-toe with these opponents and post a .500 record or better over this string of games, it would be a safe assumption that the Braves have made progress and will probably continue to do so as the year goes along; if the team struggles and sees the home run well run dry, it would be obvious that the team has a long way to go if they plan on making some noise in October.
Stat of the Week: 0-6. Atlanta holds a 0-6 mark when the offense fails to hit a home run. Meanwhile, the team is 15-0 when at least one ball has left the yard.