There’s a baseball adage that you don’t look at the standings until after Memorial Day. If that same philosophy applies to statistics, the Braves hope their bats wake up sometime during this holiday weekend.
After Friday’s 5-1 loss to Cincinnati, the Braves go into tonight’s second game of the series with a .242 batting average and having scored two runs or fewer in 18 games this season (4-14 in those games) and three or fewer in 26 (7-19). It’s actually remarkable that they still have a winning record (28-24), given that they rank in the bottom 10 in the majors in batting average, runs scored and on-base percentage.
Dan Uggla, who was expected to be one of their biggest run producers, is hitting only .183 (just 50 points ahead of tonight’s starting pitcher, Derek Lowe at .133). Chipper Jones, who has battled knee and hamstring injuries, has seen his average drop from. 291. to .259 in 15 games. In the month of May, Jason Heyward has had more MRIs on his shoulder (two) than he has RBIs (zero).
Manager Fredi Gonzalez held court with the media a little while ago. He says he is not worried. He’s convinced that eventually, “The water will rise to its level,” or something like that.
Certainly, the resumes of the players on the roster suggest things will turn at some point. But 52 games into the season, concern is growing.
Let me just add this: If this was a year ago, many fans would be screaming for the firing of former hitting coach Terry Pendleton (who’s now the first base coach). I’m not assigning blame to his replacement, Larry Parrish. Rather, this just reaffirms what players will tell you: Hitting coaches can only do so much.
Tonight’s Reds starter is Bronson Arroyo, who was rocked in his last outing at Philadelphia for nine runs, 10 hits and two home runs in only 2.2 innings. In his previous start, he allowed five runs, seven hits and two homers in seven innings to Pittsburgh. So this would seem like a good chance for the Braves’ offense to get well.
Then again, Arroyo might view this is a chance for him to turn his season around.
I’ll be blogging live from the first pitch on. Until then, do you think the end of the Braves’ slump is near?
By Jeff Schultz