The Braves’ five-game homestand started with a thud, twice folding against a Nationals team yet to find its footing. They were crushed in the opener against Detroit, dropping their home record below .500.
Yet in the last two games, the Braves responded. The bats hit three homers Saturday, backing Mike Soroka's solid showing. On Sunday, Julio Teheran held the Tigers scoreless across five innings. It was Teheran's sixth consecutive start allowing one or no runs, tying a career-best streak.
Teheran and company were backed by Swanson, who’s on pace for one of the best offensive seasons for a Braves shortstop in recent memory. Even the Swanson optimist didn’t project this power-and-RBI profile.
“Dansby’s been outstanding,” said bench coach Walt Weiss, filling in for manager Brian Snitker, who felt under the weather. “He’s really come along as an offensive player. He’s always had the instincts. Guys with instincts and baseball IQ like Dansby, they get better and better. They make adjustments.
“I think that’s what you’re seeing with him on the offensive end. He’s been a very, very good shortstop all along. He’s having a heck of a year. He’s gotten some big hits for us, the power’s coming. Dansby’s in a really good place.”
Swanson, who battled a wrist injury last year and has fought off the over-reactionary “bust” label, looks the part of a first overall pick. His defense is superb, as expected, but his bat has reached a new peak. He’s become an unexpected power threat.
Sunday marked his third game this season with multiple extra-base hits. He has hits in 13 of his last 14 starts, with six homers over his past 15 games. Only Trevor Story (eight) has more among National League shortstops.
“I never cared about it before and I’m not going to start now,” Swanson earnestly said about his power numbers. “The only total I care about is winning.”
Jacob Webb allowed two homers and the Braves squandered a 3-0 lead in the eighth — a misfortune made possible first by Swanson’s error, then after Ozzie Albies was hit in the leg by a base runner at second, preventing a double play.
“I’m still mad at myself, that’s why I don’t seem too happy at the moment,” said Swanson, who’d draw a walk and score the go-ahead run following his error. “I told Webby, too, it’s unacceptable at that point in the game to make — not necessarily a physical error, but just the approach to the thing was not good. But the ability to bounce back, not only individually but as a team in the eighth ... was really good for us.”
The Braves’ offense answered with four in the bottom of the frame, including Freddie Freeman’s double that plated Swanson from first.
And so the Braves bounced back for a 2-3 home stint and series win. The team is far from perfect, but it’s thus far overcome its warts for a 32-27 record in early June.
“That’s the whole goal: You’re not trying to win every game, you’re trying to win series,” Freeman said. “We were able to do that there after a tough couple games against the Nationals. Get back with a winning series and hopefully get another off day, which is nice — three in eight days — and then get into another stretch on the road.”
The team is off Monday, though the organization will be busy with the MLB draft, in which the Braves possess three first-night picks. The Braves open a two-city road trip to Pittsburgh and Miami on Tuesday.