A day to remember in a motley Braves’ season

The Braves are 6-7 under interim manager Brian Snitker. If they play at that pace the rest of the season, they’d finish 67-95, same as last year. That wouldn’t meet any definition of good. Neither would it be historically awful. Given how this season began, not losing 100 games would constitute a victory.

Over the past 13 games, the Braves have stopped the rot. They’re hitting a bit. They’re pitching pretty darn well. Miracle of miracles, they even won a home series. They now appear a slightly substandard big-league club, which is all this was intended to be.

If there’s a silver lining in greeting Memorial Day with the worst record in the majors, it was that the failings of these first two months haven’t been a function of the Braves’ lovingly acquired youngsters, most of whom aren’t here yet. The culprits have been the veterans, some of whom won’t be around much longer.

As of noon Monday, Freddie Freeman was hitting .255, Nick Markakis .240 and A.J. Pierzynski .210. Erick Aybar, who has become the worst everyday player in baseball, had taken his .182 to the disabled list. Hector Oliver was batting .211 when suspended for domestic abuse. The only two of those five guaranteed to be on the payroll after the July 31 trading deadline are Freeman, who remains the cornerstone even if he hasn’t played like it, and Olivera, whose suspension lapses Aug. 1.

The Braves haven’t announced their plans for Olivera, but here’s a guess: Some image enhancement involving charity work; workouts at the Braves’ Disney complex; a rehab stint in the minors and, if all goes really well, a late-season recall. As unpalatable as it might be to have him wearing their uniform, if he serves his MLB penalty and regains his eligibility (and doesn’t land in jail), the only realistic option – beyond a trade, which is unrealistic – would be to cut him. That would cost $30 million. Can’t imagine they’re ready to make that concession.

As for Braves apt to be here next year and beyond, two of them had a Memorial Day to remember. Mallex Smith, the 23-year-old who has been their most valuable position player if we go by Baseball-Reference's WAR (wins above replacement), lined a three-run triple the opposite way off Jeff Samardzija, who entered with an ERA of 2.54.

Mike Foltynewicz, the 24-year-old invariably described as “hard-throwing,” threw not just hard but well, yielding three hits over six innings. Snitker, who managed Foltynewicz last season for Gwinnett, recalled a dominant performance against Norfolk but pronounced this “probably the best total package I’ve seen from him.”

With two on and the Braves leading 5-1 in the sixth, Foltynewicz faced Brandon Belt, whose homer off a 94-mph fastball had given the Giants, who entered with the second-best record in baseball, their run. This time Foltynewicz fanned Belt on a heater registering 97. It was his 86th pitch on an 88-degree day.

Arodys Vizcaino, the 25-year-old closer, shook off three singles and two errors, the second being Kelly Johnson’s flub of what should have been Buster Posey’s game-ending smash, to retire Kelby Tomlinson on a grounder to third. This was Vizcaino’s worst inning of the year, and still he fought through it. He’s terrific.

Those Braves– Smith, Foltynewicz and Vizcaino – are three to build on. (Matt Wisler, who pitches Tuesday, is a fourth.) More are en route. It’s hard to imagine that infielders Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies won’t be here before summer’s end, and maybe Rio Ruiz, too. Lucas Sims has had two rough starts since being promoted to Gwinnett, but he’s coming fast.

There has been nothing to like about the 2016 Braves’ record, but we say again: What we’ve seen isn’t necessarily what we’ll see. Better days are coming. Memorial Day was a good day.