For the second season in a row, the Braves have a penchant for hitting home runs in the late innings of close games.
Veteran third baseman Chipper Jones just wishes they’d adopt a similar approach for other situations, too.
The Braves were hitting just .223 in close-and-late situations, which ranked 13th in the National League before Friday. However, they had 17 homers in those situations, more than twice as many as any other NL team.
“It’s nice to have that ability and nice to be able to turn it on when we need to,” Jones said. “I just wish there was a little more urgency early on in games, because if we keep playing [close] games like we’re playing, we’re going to blow out [relievers Eric] O’Flaherty, [Jonny] Venters, [Craig] Kimbrel.”
Only 11 major league pitchers had 25 or more relief appearances before Friday, including that Braves trio: Venters had a majors-leading 28, O’Flaherty had 27, and rookie closer Kimbrel had 25.
The Braves had averaged one homer per 19.5 at-bats after the sixth inning in close games, compared to one homer every 42.5 at-bats in all other situations.
“And that’s just concentration,” Jones said. “I feel like if we had that urgency in the first three innings like we have in the last two or three, we’d greatly benefit ourselves.”
Dan Uggla, who has otherwise struggled mightily, had a team-high four close-and-late homers. Uggla and Martin Prado (three) had more close-and-late homers between them than nine NL teams before Friday.