SAN FRANCISCO — The Braves had a .199 team batting average and 14 runs during a 1-5 skid before Friday, so it’s not as if Dan Uggla was the only lineup regular not hitting lately.
“We’re not doing anything [offensively],” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team scored two or fewer runs in four of its past six games, and got shut out until the ninth inning of Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Giants.
“Not counting the pitcher’s spot, we’ve got eight guys in the lineup, and I think just three guys [going well] – [Martin] Prado, [Jason] Heyward and Chipper [Jones]. You see guys hit balls hard, and the at-bats are good at times, but we haven’t gotten anything going the rest of the time. I don’t even want to look at the numbers. The last 10-12 days, I don’t even want to look.”
The Braves were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position Thursday, continuing a recent trend that dropped their season average to .241 with runners in scoring position, 11th in the National League.
But while others have struggled to varying degrees, catcher Brian McCann — .154 with one RBI in 16 August games before Friday – and Uggla have been most conspicuous in their lack of production. Unlike McCann, who is playing with frayed labrum and cyst in his right shoulder, Uggla’s problems don’t stem from injury.
He’s just having a lousy season, batting .209 with 15 homers, 62 RBIs and a .369 slugging percentage that’s more than 100 points below his career average. And never has Uggla endured a slump quite as deep as the one he’s in now: In his past 66 games before Friday, he hit .144 with five homers and 81 strikeouts in 218 at-bats.
While many fans have called for Uggla to be benched, Gonzalez started him for the 27th time in the past 29 games Friday and said the reason was simple.
“We need to get him going,” he said, and repeated that line. “But it’s not only him. There’s some nights where there are four outs in the lineup. We need to get him going. We need to get everybody going, firing on all cylinders.”