The Braves on Thursday defeated the Pirates, 3-1, at Truist Park. Atlanta, which has won eight in a row, still has not lost in the month of June.
Here are five observations on the Braves (31-27):
1. During difficult stretches and after tough losses this season, the Braves have preached remaining level. They didn’t want to get too down on themselves. They wanted to wait it out until they got on a run.
They are on that roll.
“You allow yourself to do that (by staying level), I think,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Because you’re going to have to weather storms. You get in streaks over the course of six months where there’s nothing you can do. I mean, you just got to wear it. And if you do, there’s usually something good on the other side of it. But you have to keep preparing and take every day as a separate entity, and handle it, because there’s nothing you can do about it.”
And the difference then versus now?
“From waiting for something to go right to looking for something to go wrong is the difference in it,” Snitker said. “You can never explain it in this thing, how or why.”
The Braves trailed the Mets in the NL East standings by 10.5 games when the winning streak began.
Atlanta is now only 6.5 games back.
2. Snitker has said it multiple times this season: When an offense is producing at a high rate, two-out runs are most likely involved.
This has been the case for the Braves.
They entered Thursday’s game ranked third in the majors with 112 two-out runs, just behind the Mets and Giants. And before its latest win, Atlanta led all of baseball with 25 two-out runs since June 1. The Braves added to that total as they scored two runs with two outs in a win over Pittsburgh.
There is something to be said for phrases like “moving the line” and “not trying to do too much.”
“They’re not clichés,” Snitker said. “I mean, it’s true. It’s just an easier-said-than-done-type thing, and you don’t know why it happens. You get in those modes and guys stop trying to press in that situation, just drive one run in instead of two. So I don’t know. I’d be a rich man if I knew how to parlay that to people.”
3. Over the last week, the Braves’ rotation has imposed its will on lesser competition.
In the first seven games of the Braves’ winning streak, their starting pitchers combined for a 2.93 ERA, which ranked fifth in baseball over that span. Then Max Fried, in the eighth victory of the streak, tossed six innings of one-run baseball versus the Pirates.
“Just trying to go out there and obviously compete against the other teams, but within ourselves,” Fried said. “Everyone’s throwing the ball well and you want to go out there and give your team the best chance to win. Especially with the complete games that we’ve been playing, you just want to go out there, do your job and just try to win a ballgame.”
The Braves’ rotation has, for the most part, remained steady this season. The club might have solved the group’s biggest issue – a lack of production from the fifth spot – by plugging in hard-throwing righty Spencer Strider.
Braves 3, Pirates 1 (box score)
4. Adam Duvall continues to churn out encouraging signs. In this win, he singled home a run to open the scoring in the second inning.
Over his last four games, Duvall, who has struggled for most of the season, is 7-for-16 with two doubles, a triple, two homers and five RBIs.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing, but I’ve learned to deal with some rough patches,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been in some spots that aren’t necessarily ideal, and to be able to literally just focus on today and what we’ve got to do today to get better.”
5. The Braves’ bullpen – Will Smith in the seventh, A.J. Minter in the eighth, Kenley Jansen in the ninth – combined for three hitless innings to seal the victory.
The bullpen has lost Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and now Collin McHugh.
The relievers have continued rolling throughout all of it.
Stat to know
9 - The Braves have nine games remaining against teams currently under .500 until they host the Giants on June 20.
“We definitely didn’t feel like we were playing up to the standards that we hold to ourselves. For whatever reason, we couldn’t get on that roll. It’s good sometimes to bring everybody together and make sure that we’re all on the same page, just to kind of refocus a little bit and make sure the number one goal at the end of the day is to win the game.”-Duvall on the team refocusing after Snitker called a team meeting on June 1.
In Friday’s game, which begins at 7:20 p.m., Strider will face Pirates right-hander Roansy Contreras.
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