Good evening. Figured I would check in on another Atlanta team that will be leaving town soon — but just for a road trip.
The Braves, only 2-3 on this homestand and 30-26 overall after consecutive losses to San Diego, play host to the Padres again tonight. Tommy Hanson is pitching, but then who’s starting on the mound hasn’t really been the issue for the Braves this season. It’s the offense.
Here’s today’s news: Dan Uggla is back in the lineup after a day off but he has been dropped to seventh in the batting order by manager Fredi Gonzalez. The hot-hitting Freddie Freeman (.362 over his last 15 games) is hitting fifth and Alex Gonzalez is hitting sixth.
OK, here’s the good news: Uggla is 6-for-15 with three doubles in his career when batting seventh. See? There’s a positive stat for everything and everybody.
We can break down the offense 20 different ways, but the two biggest issues are Uggla and Jason Heyward. They were expected to be two of the team’s biggest run producers and power hitters and they haven’t come through.
Yes, Chipper Jones is struggling with a .257 average. But: 1) He also has delivered some big hits this season and; 2) He was a question mark coming into the year after major knee surgery. Expectations were uncertain. Uggla and Heyward were the gimmes.
Uggla averaged over 30 homers and 90 RBIs in the last five seasons at Florida. Heyward was coming off a great rookie season (.277, 18 homers, 72 RBIs). But now Uggla is hitting only .178 (his career average is .263 and last season he hit .287) and Heyward is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and a .214 average.
The Braves need to win tonight just to salvage a .500 homestand. Following tonight’s game, they head out for a 10-game road trip to New York, Florida and Houston. Overall, the Braves’ home record (16-13) isn’t much better than their road record (14-13).
But hey, it’s June 1. It’s a new month. Let’s see if things change. I’ll be here to serve your blogging needs, starting with the first pitch.
By Jeff Schultz