The Braves’ bats are springing to life, and they might continue to do so against a pitcher having trouble figuring out what’s wrong. Atlanta will try to extend Trevor Cahill’s woes and complete a three-game sweep of a fellow division leader in Sunday’s matchup with the visiting Diamondbacks.
Through June 5, the Braves topped the NL with 81 homers and were among the league leaders with 4.5 runs per game. A big offensive funk followed, as they failed to go deep in 10 of 17 games while averaging 2.6 runs. They went 6-11 and reached double digits in hits just three times.
That’s happened in four of the past five games, though, as Atlanta has gone 4-1 while hitting .307 with six homers and 14 doubles. The Braves (47-34) didn’t have a double-figure scoring effort in June until rallying for seven runs in the eighth inning Saturday to beat the D-backs 11-5.
“It was a good day offensively, it really was, and hopefully that can carry on for quite a while,” manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s official website.
Keying Atlanta’s NL-best 23rd comeback win was Jason Heyward, who had the tying RBI double and is among many Braves shaking off a slump. He’s 7 for 17 with five extra-base hits over the past four games, scoring four runs and driving in four in that time. Heyward had been 3 for 22 in his previous six games.
Dan Uggla drove in two runs Saturday and has hit .350 in five games after a 4-for-24 funk. Freddie Freeman was 1 for 3 for the fourth straight game following a 2-for-24 stretch, hitting a two-run homer after going 10 games without an RBI. Even B.J. Upton, batting .178, had two RBIs after going seven games without one.
“It just seems we are playing better and better baseball every day all around,” Upton said. “That’s kind of scary that we’re just going to get better.”
Cahill (3-9, 4.29 ERA) clearly needs to get better for a Diamondbacks rotation that has gone 21 consecutive starts without a win. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 7.34 ERA in his last seven outings as opposing batters have hit .329. He’s failed to get through six innings in five starts this month.
“It’s tough, because I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and work on some things but also try not to change too much,” Cahill said.
Cahill was tagged for six runs and eight hits in five innings of a 7-5 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if he’s trying to change his delivery or what. He changes from pitch to pitch,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “… He’s a guy that doesn’t need to do too much.”
The only two times Cahill faced the Braves came last season, and he lost both, allowing 13 runs in 10 2/3 innings.
Atlanta counters with Paul Maholm (8-6, 3.75), who is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA in six home starts this year. The left-hander won at Milwaukee last Sunday despite a subpar outing, giving up four runs and eight hits in five innings of a 7-4 victory.
Maholm was 0-3 against the Diamondbacks before winning the last matchup, throwing seven innings of one-run ball in an 8-1 victory last July 13 while with the Cubs.
While Atlanta’s 6 1/2-game lead atop the East is the largest in baseball, Arizona (42-38) has lost five of six to see its West lead cut to two.
“We’ll have to figure things out, we’ll have to switch things around,” manager Kirk Gibson said.
The Diamondbacks have dropped 12 of 15 in Atlanta, where Paul Goldschmidt is batting .120 in eight career games.