Braves show some offense in win over Reds (honest)

Brian McCann gets proper welcoming after his first of two homers against Reds. (AP photo)

Brian McCann gets proper welcoming after his first of two homers against Reds. (AP photo)

During the past several weeks, as the Braves have struggled and waited for baseball’s cosmic forces to breathe life into their anemic bats, beleaguered hitting coach Larry Parrish has been consoled by his predecessor.

“[Terry Pendleton] has said to me a few times, ‘Hey, I’ve been there. I know how you feel,’” Parrish said, referencing the former hitting coach who was moved to first base by new manager Fredi Gonzalez. “I know this comes with the territory. If things don’t go well, you’re going to catch some heat. Unfortunately, you can’t just lay hands on them and heal them.”

Of course not. Otherwise, Oral Roberts would’ve been a hitting coach.

But maybe this was the beginning of some awakening. The Braves, floating in and out of consciousness on offense for most of this season, scored six runs in the first five innings against Cincinnati on Saturday night. If Derek Lowe hadn’t drop-kicked a 5-0 lead by allowing a five-run Reds fourth, it might’ve been a shorter night.

But they’ll take it. Chipper Jones singled home Jordan Schafer with the running run in the 12th inning to give the Braves a 7-6 win over the Reds at Turner Field. It was the most runs the Braves have scored in 21 games. Brian McCann homered twice. The team had 14 hits.

These are rare nights for a team that’s hitting .244 (the average went up two points). But hold applause. It’s one game, not quite a trend.

For most of the season, the Braves have mirrored their teams of the 1990s: good pitching, good defense and waiting for somebody to come up with a clutch hit.

They broke spring training with what was expected to be their most potent lineup in several seasons. In the winter, they had added a proven run-producer at second (Dan Uggla). They brought up the next great thing at first (Freddie Freeman). They returned the previous next great thing in right field (Jason Heyward) and the previous great thing Jones (who was remarkably upright and effective in spring training after major knee surgery last August).

But the offense that we’ve witnessed to date has been something closer to a dripping faucet.

They scored three runs or fewer in 26 of their first 52 games (going 7-19), and two or fewer in 18 (4-14). That’s why they were only four games over .500 while Philadelphia was plus-13 starting the night.

Uggla has been a mess. He is hitting .178 after going 0-for-5 Saturday (and is 5-for-54 in the last 15). He has been dropped to sixth in the lineup, and for all we know seventh could be the next stop. Heyward is on the disabled list. He’s getting hurt a little too often. He’s complaining of shoulder soreness, and his batting average is down to .235. In the month of May, he has more MRIs (two) than RBIs (zero).

Freeman, despite too many strikeouts, actually has done his part (he had three hits against the Reds, including a homer). But Jones has been sliding, his health once again an issue (knee and hamstring), although he showed Saturday he can still come through in the clutch.

Pitching hasn’t been the problem. A team that ranks second in the majors with a 2.99 ERA generally is going to be better than just north of break even (28-24).

“I’d rather have it this way than 14th in pitching and No. 1 in offense,” Gonzalez said. “You can’t play slow-pitch softball.”

That’s what this one looked like at the outset, although this hasn’t been the norm for the Braves. Parrish is catching a little heat, but not nearly what Pendleton would have. He’s new, and it’s early. This is the reality check for all of the yutzes out there who believe hitting coaches should be able to magically transform struggling hitters into Ted Williams.

Consider the words of the most struggling of all Braves, Uggla: “We’re the ones up there hitting. You don’t see the hitting coaches up there with a bat in their hands. He can look at film and find 17 things that are wrong with each bad swing. But I’m the one who’s in the box.”

Parrish is tweaking the best he can, but he knows his power his limited.

“As a hitting coach, when a guy struggles, you live and die with it,” he said.

For one night, the Braves let him live a little.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

51 comments Add your comment

overspray

May 29th, 2011
12:02 am

overspray

May 29th, 2011
12:02 am

That could be a first…

para brave

May 29th, 2011
12:15 am

Hey Fredi, when your starting pitcher is loading up the bases in the first couple of innings it’s ok to pull him. Uggla quit trying to get a HR everytime you come to bat.

5150 UOAD

May 29th, 2011
12:30 am

I missed KATHRINE tonight. I guess she had a date of family commitments.
Many of the regular Braves Bloggers were not on. Sorry Jeff. I watched Apocalypse Now and the Braves game.

5150 UOAD

May 29th, 2011
12:31 am

The Horror
The Horror
that is as great a movie line as…
Rosebud

5150 UOAD

May 29th, 2011
12:38 am

rugburn
May 29th, 2011
12:15 am

chipper hits a dribbler thru the right side to win the game and you take offense because i said he didn’t hit it hard? tell me that when you first saw it hit that you didn’t think it was a double play ball.

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5150 UOAD
May 29th, 2011
12:34 am

Infield at double play depth and it was hit BETWEEN a tight infield and the 1st baseman holding the runner and protecting the foul line. I KNEW it was a HIT. Maybe not a game winner, but a hit to load he bases for damn sure. AGAIN watch the replay of the whole pitch and hit.

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5150 UOAD
May 29th, 2011
12:36 am

A dribbler implies a WEAK hit bouncing on the infield grass until it makes to the Dirt. Chippers hit was ANYTHING but a dribbler.

perimeter285perez1

May 29th, 2011
12:47 am

“Heyward has more MRIs (two) than RBIs (zero) in May.” That’s some funny sh*t right there!

STRETCH

May 29th, 2011
12:48 am

Im overseas watching ESPN Baseball tonight. Im waiting for Braves highlights and on the left side of the screen shows the upcoming topics, so i see McCann hits 2 hrs, so im waiting on the highlight. And then they are talking with Jose Bautista, i look away for a few seconds and look back….they had removed the Braves ticker!

Ive always heard people complian about ESPN being biased in their covarage of Atlanta sports, but i never thought much ove it. But after today…im started to believe it. I wish there was some way to blow the horn on these guys. All they do is talk Yankees/Red Sox!

rally

May 29th, 2011
12:53 am

Well here is my two cents. Unload Lowe and McClouth both. Wasted Space…Lowe’s attitude in Atlanta reminds me alot of Kleskos very arrogant and I hated that. McClouth he just plain sucks. Now the most bothersome thing to me is I like winning as much as the next person but wasn’t any one concerned when they are putting dirt in the eyes of the HOF Jones this evening…I mean GOOD GAWD. Thats the last thing we need….put a pie on his ass for crying out loud!!!!

The Grinch

May 29th, 2011
2:57 am

STRETCH, the Braves consistently rank in the top 5 nationally in the size of their overall fanbase, and have for more than a decade. ESPN actually is willing to leave money on the table by not talking about them; they’re still fighting the Civil War. It’s quite embarrassing, and truthfully disgusting. I feel sorry for them as people; they’re both small and impotent.

reckingball

May 29th, 2011
3:17 am

rally………….I doubt that they can “unload” Lowe, and know that they can’t move McLouth, without having to eat their salaries.
As for the dirt throwing, that is something that Prado started. I agree with you, Fredi G. should put an end to that, quick. And if he didn’t, and I was Wren, I would send an order down, from on high, to cut it out, pronto.
It is pretty stupid, and could result in an eye infection or even mono.
They should throw water or gatoraid, if they feel compelled to throw something on the game winning hero.

reckingball

May 29th, 2011
3:23 am

EXPN caters to the northeast. They are all a bunch of hacks, anyways.
Those two broadcasters tonight, did a fairly good job, but they really didn’t or don’t know, what is or what has been, going on with the Braves organization, for the past couple of years.

Stinger2

May 29th, 2011
5:18 am

Sounds like the win should have been easier last night, but a win due to some solid hitting is a rarity these days. I feel badly for Uggla
but he needs some kind of help…a rest for a series, send him to Gwinnett for a few days and try to find his swing?

deja vu

May 29th, 2011
6:16 am

The situation with Uggla is threatening to turn from ‘very slow start’, to weird…
Steve Sax, Rick Ankiel, Mark Wohlers weird. He needs some time off.
Maybe a talk with Brooks Conrad.

Joey

May 29th, 2011
6:45 am

Batting under .100 the past 15 games? Should we now refer to that as the “Uggla Line?”

Uggla’s OPS is now .252 points below his career (5 seasons) with the Marlins! .252 points!

Jeff, excluding known PED users, have you seen anyone so good, and consistant fall this fast?

hop

May 29th, 2011
7:22 am

braves with a smaller payroll year in and year out do not have a team that can compete with the phillies .

hopefully,the new owners that will come next year will spend more so we can be competitive again.

GovClintonTyree

May 29th, 2011
8:04 am

Joey, the only guy in all of baseball that I can think of that fell that far that fast is Nate McLouth.

Ted M

May 29th, 2011
8:19 am

The Braves are competing w/the Phillies right now.

JackDennis

May 29th, 2011
8:22 am

Uggla will recover, Pitchers will pay. Relax.

ylojkt

May 29th, 2011
9:27 am

We need Uggla to hurry up and start hitting, our line-up is too weak with him not pulling his weight; that said, his sac fly last night was about 3′ short of a homer.
Good to see McCann starting to put up the homer numbers we need from him.

gtne80

May 29th, 2011
9:29 am

Surely there must be a kid in Gwinnett or Rome that can play second base and hit more than .180. Uggla is a bad joke.

Blog comments are retarded

May 29th, 2011
9:33 am

Hop, the Braves have a winning record against the Phillies.

Bill

May 29th, 2011
9:45 am

Tyree..remember Andrew Jones & Frenchy……….

Sonny Clusters

May 29th, 2011
9:51 am

.178 and dropping . . . this is worse than Jeff and Andruw put together. If Uggla was a Clusters he wouldn’t be a slow starter but since he is a slow starter maybe he needs some special attention from the training staff. They could heat up the clubhouse and tell him it’s June. Wait a minute! It is almost June now! He will probably get started sometime next week when it is June. Slow starting is painful.

TomB

May 29th, 2011
9:54 am

Someone wake the editor up; he missed a few easy pitches in this one.

Sonny Clusters

May 29th, 2011
9:55 am

If Fredi nicknames Uggla and Uggla starts hitting in June . . . we think Uggla’s pet name should be “June”. It worked for Beaver Cleaver’s mom and it can work for Uggla. Besides, he’s hitting like June Cleaver right now. We’re pretty sure June Cleaver could hit .178 with that many at-bats.

J-Man

May 29th, 2011
9:59 am

Can we start the Venters for all-star game petition. Because he probably will not go because he is not a closer and thats a shame because IMO he is by far the best reliever in baseball. He hasnt even been on lately and got out of a bases loaded 1 out situation and a 2 on and 1 out situation. The guy has the best stuff and has the dexterity to pitch himself out of difficult situations. Venters is the best reliever in baseball…….You don’t believe me look at the stats.

Chopper

May 29th, 2011
10:12 am

Anybody else pleased with how Jordan Schafer is playing since his recall?

I think he’s getting on base at a good clip (.381) and his speed allows them to steal/hit-n-run and try to get that all important first run across. Plus it’s nice to be able to go 1st to 3rd on a hit or score from 1st on a double. I’m not sure I’d put McLouth back in CF when he comes off the DL if Schafer keeps it up.

reckingball

May 29th, 2011
10:16 am

In the last two games, Uggla has moved closer to the plate, and he is laying off of those outside breaking balls, that he has been flailing away at. He has not struck out so far, and has made good contact on some of the pitches that he has put the wood on.
He’s about to break out.

reckingball

May 29th, 2011
10:28 am

Reggie Sanders had the worst season of his career with the Braves in 2000, after leaving the Reds 1999.
After he left the Braves and went to AZ in 2001, he bounced back to his regular level of play.
He still didn’t look anywhere near as bad as Uggla has, so far this year.
Uggla is going to start hitting, I read it in the bones.

the truth...

May 29th, 2011
10:30 am

Uggla is a slugger not a hitter….sluggers swing as hard as they can and pray..hitters take what the pitcher gives them and find a place to put the ball………….

McLouth is really a kid named McLousy….rag arm, surfer hair cut, and inconsistent play night after night…

Freddie G. is not a candidate for the Manager’s Hall of Fame….guessing that is not ahead for him…

Pendleton or Parrish….medocre coaches…Dusty Baker was the best the Bravos have had in the past 20 years……………………and he is busy right now…

AMEN to Wren stopping the dirt ball, 5 year old stuff…..they all need dirt on their uniforms from busting their butts and not on their heads after the rare success on the field….

Good Grief Charlie Brown…………..

Double Zero Eight

May 29th, 2011
10:43 am

I believe Uggla would welcome a week in Gwinnett.
You can see in his eyes that he dreads coming to
the plate.

Dawgdad (The Original)

May 29th, 2011
11:40 am

Someone is going to lose an eye because of a dirt shower. When it happens, I hope blame is spread widely among the players and coaches.

They need to “diagnose Uggla as ailing” and put him on the 15 day DL and justify a rehab trip to Gwinnett. He needs to get away from the pressure for a few weeks and work on his stroke. He is just an automatic out. Move Martin back to second and play Wilkin or Mather.

John Galt

May 29th, 2011
12:11 pm

People seem to be overlooking what Schafer’s speed brings to this team. Chipper’s RBI hit was nothing but a seeing-eye dribbler; I think it had stopped rollong when Bruce got to it.

No one on the roster except Schafer scores on that hit- I wish I could see something from Fredi acknowledging that he recognizes that.

MJ

May 29th, 2011
12:55 pm

Great win last night. No matter the Chipper bashers say, I still like seeing him at the plate in crucial situations. He’s a threat every time he comes to the plate. Yes , the walk off single was not line drive, but he made contact & got the crucial hit. With the exception of BMac, there isn’t anyone else I would want to see at the plate for the Braves with the game on the line. I do like Schafer’s speed, & the Braves need that dimension. His appearance and mannerisms appear to have changed significantly from two years ago, and it looks to me like he is ready to play in Atlanta. I don’t think he was the only person on the team that could have scored however. It was a ground ball situation where the runners had to advance, so whoever was on second was breaking for 3rd as hard as possible as soon as they recognized a ground ball. Prado, McClouth, or Heyward would have also scored on that play. As many others have said, Uggla has to cut his swing down, and just make contact. He’s going to be fine. I’m more worried about Heyward’s health. He’s not been injury free in any season yet. A player that young with so many nagging injuries already is not a good sign. I hope he can be 100% for the second half of the season. I’m hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Braves will get much from him in June. The bullpen has been awesome so far, which is great. Go Braves!

Boombah

May 29th, 2011
2:58 pm

Last night a player scored from 1st on a Reds double..no big deal.. Nate and others have also but now, the Schafer fans act like its never happen before. Also last night they’re 5 are 6 on team that would have scored from second on Chipper’s hit. Holy cow! Speed is great and Schafer has that but nothing else sets him apart from Nate. 3 infield hits , one misjudged double over Diaz head. No steals..a good catch last night but Nate and others would have made it also. Look at Mather, he played great one week and now on bench. he played as well as Schafer has and where is the same glory? Well what ever Fredi does is ok with me but Schafer has proved nothing yet….Braves have alot of problems other than that.

reckingball

May 29th, 2011
4:23 pm

excellent downer comment Boombah.

Boombah

May 29th, 2011
7:10 pm

no love lost nutball.

JASon

May 29th, 2011
7:38 pm

Jeff, every big hitter we bring to this organization sucks once he walks through our doors. I give you dan uggla this year, and alex gonzalez last year. You could bring Jose Bautista here and he would fall into a hitting slump. That is the culture of this organization: we suck. We could have no hitters every night and I guarantee you we would find a way to go 11-9 over 20 games.

the truth...

May 29th, 2011
10:35 pm

I hate Kimbrell

the truth...

May 29th, 2011
10:40 pm

I still hate him…he is a scorching heart attack….

Stinger2

May 30th, 2011
3:35 am

The Braves have much worse problems than Kimbrell. He is a rookie
closer with 15 saves already. He is among the leaders in the NL closers.

Loafer

May 30th, 2011
7:30 am

Saw Frenchy was batting .290. I can’t believe I’m wishing we kept him!!

Steven

May 30th, 2011
9:03 am

“Left fielder’s 6th inning solo homer the difference, giving Atlanta the win over Cincinnati”

Um it was a 2 run homer.

BravesLover

May 30th, 2011
9:08 am

Is Atlanta the team where good hitters come to die? Over and over through the years we sign what should have been great bats but they suddenly go hitting blind when they get here often to regain their stroke if we let them go elsewhere. Have we ever let the league in hitting? Last year we were tops in OBP but that isn’t just hits.

JM

May 30th, 2011
10:19 am

Uggla should be benched for about a week. Yankees would love to have Lowe and might take McLouth in the bargain….the question is if they have enough decent prospects to make the deal.

Smoltzie

May 30th, 2011
10:22 am

When did Uggla develop that one handed swing? Did he do that last year? Its like he’s playing whiffle ball…..Whipping that bat around his head? I still think this team can win but they have to be more consistant…pitching and hitting. ESPN…the card playing station! When did playing cards become a sport?? ESPN..the yankee and Redsox station!!

Boombah

May 30th, 2011
10:34 am

Coach Tressel OHIO STATE FOOTBALL.Resigns…

Fred B

May 30th, 2011
10:38 am

JM how do you know that NYY would love to have Lowe? Who would want Nate’s salary? Where do u come up with this crap.

tjhook

May 30th, 2011
12:30 pm

He’s thinking we can reacquire Texiera for those two (and Freeman). Particularly with our younger pitchers coming on and with the need for a hot bat.