Atlanta hitting .300 with 60 runs scored over past 12 games
By Nick Krueger
ST. LOUIS -- The Braves' offense has been at the bottom of the Major Leagues all season. Atlanta ranks last in the Majors in home runs (70), runs (395) and RBIs (374), but 19 runs over the last two games, coupled with eight wins in its last 12 and the addition of Matt Kemp has the clubhouse believing in its bats again.
Interim manager Brian Snitker can't explain it, but the Braves scored six runs in the first two innings in Sunday's 6-3 win over the Cardinals for their second series win in a row.
"If I could explain offense, I could write a book and become a millionaire," Snitker said. "Who knows? It's flow, it's feel, it's guys relaxing."
Ender Inciarte is in the midst of a career-high-tying 18-game hitting streak and is hitting .380 since it started on July 19. Erick Aybar isn't far behind with a 12-game streak and batting .395 in that stretch. Over the past 12 games, the Braves are hitting .300 as a team with nine home runs, 60 runs and 58 RBIs, far from the .196 average during their nine-game losing streak to start the year.
"Hitting can be contagious just like anything else," Nick Markakis said. "We came in here wanting to win the series, and we did."
It hasn't always been this productive. The team went 15 games without a home run in April, but the middle of the order has changed it's tone recently.
Markakis and Freddie Freeman are a combined 29-for-88 (.329) over the past 12 games with 20 RBIs and 15 runs.
"You've just got to keep grinding," Freeman said. "I've had a couple rough spells here this year and it always comes back around."
Part of their success is also due to the acquisition of Kemp at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. He hasn't found much production in the Braves' lineup yet, but the mere presence of a bat with 24 home runs and 73 RBIs this season can play mind games with opposing pitchers.
"Anytime you add a guy like that to the lineup, he's going to do good things," Anthony Recker said. "Having Matt is great, he's another asset in that lineup. We've got a lot of guys who are hungry to prove something, and he's one of them."
The Braves have put up double-digits in the hit column six times in the past 12 games, and their nine home runs in that span account for 9.3 percent of their season total. Atlanta's four home runs on Saturday were also a season high.
"We've got a lot of young guys in here who are looking to prove themselves," Recker said. "A lot of older guys who can still play and we think we can do some damage down the stretch, so we're going to do our best."
Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.