Atlanta – What a difference every week makes. Eight days after calling for a rare team meeting, Braves manager Brian Snitker finds his team is cruising through an eight-game winning streak with a narrow margin. 3-1 . win Over the Thursday night pirates in Trust Park.
“You’ll have to weather the storms,” Snicker said. “The stretches are over a period of six months where there is nothing you can do. You have to wear them. And when you do, there is usually something good on the other side of it.”
One year after winning the World Championship despite not holding a winning record until August, the Braves never panicked as they struggled through the first two months of this season. But with the powerful Mets sitting atop the Eastern National League, Atlanta knew a straight fifth Division title win might depend on turning things around in this friendly part of their schedule.
This winning streak consisted of one win over the linebacker D, four against the Rockies, two over the A’s and one over the Pirates. By winning these “they should have won” games, the Braves have gained four games over the Mets and are now sitting on just 6 1/2 games off the top spot in the NL East.
“We definitely didn’t feel like we were playing to the standards we hold ourselves to,” Duvall said. “For whatever reason, we couldn’t get on that list. Sometimes it’s good to get everyone together and make sure we’re on the same page, just to refocus a little bit and make sure the number one goal at the end of the day is to win the game.”
Two hours before the start of this winning streak with his June 1 victory in Arizona, Sneaker gathered his players at the club and stressed the need to regain focus. Less than 24 hours ago, his team made several blunders, threw wrong rules and squandered a comfortable lead against linebacker D.
“We were playing hard and doing all that, the train got off the track a little bit,” Snicker said.
An easy way for the team to correct itself is through the kind of show the Braves have been on while allowing two runs or fewer in six of their past eight games. The Bullpen continues to be a force, and Fried and Kyle Wright have led the rotation, who have cemented their respective All-Star appeals over the past week.
Fried limited the Buccaneers in one round to six innings, but he wasn’t close to being as dominant as Friday, when he allowed only two strokes during eight goalless rounds at Coors Stadium. But the left-winger used his big movement to get out of trouble in the first half and limited damage while allowing at least two hits in four of the first five rounds.
Fried has produced a 2.21 ERA in the 11 starts he’s made since he stumbled on opening day. As for Duvall, his struggles after 38 games have lasted longer. The veteran player entered June, recording 0.10 with a 0.526 OPS. He’s made 0.320 with three doubles, triples, two homers and 1,080 OPS in the seven games he’s played this month.
“I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing, but I’ve learned to deal with some tough spots,” Duval said. “I feel like I’ve been in some places that aren’t necessarily ideal.”
Where the Braves stood a little over a week ago was definitely not ideal. But things looked a lot different now that a powerful and profound lineup had begun to take shape.
Ronald Acuna Jr. (1,205), William Contreras (1,102), Duvall (1.080) and Austin Riley (1,054) all produced four-figure OPS this month with at least 20 rackets.
With this stretch of success, the Braves regained some of the confidence that helped them advance through the transformation that guided them toward the world title.
“It’s just waiting for something to go right instead of for something to go wrong,” Snicker said. “That is the difference. You can never explain it in this thing, how and why.”
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”