The Atlanta Braves have broken out over their past two games.
They’ll look to turn their offensive momentum into a third straight win as they close a two-game set against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
The Braves (45-33) had batted .205 while losing five of six and were held to three runs or fewer in all of those losses. But they scored four times in the first inning at Milwaukee on Sunday and posted a three-run fifth in their 4-3 victory over the Royals (35-39) on Tuesday. After they were held scoreless with six hits over two losses, they have 11 runs and 24 hits in two wins.
Freddie Freeman reached base twice Tuesday to snap out of a 2-for-24 (.083) skid, though he still hasn’t recorded an extra-base hit since his walk-off home run against the Mets on June 17. Jason Heyward, who was previously mired in a 6-for-33 (.182) slump, recorded two hits, including a home run, in Atlanta’s opener against Kansas City.
“I was just looking for a pitch in the zone to hit,” Heyward said.
All of this is welcome news for Atlanta’s Mike Minor (8-3, 2.89 ERA), who has a 6.00 ERA over his last two starts after compiling a 2.44 ERA through his first 13. Minor’s struggles carried into his last outing Thursday, when he gave up nine hits and four runs, including three homers, in a 4-3 loss to the Mets.
“The home runs were just bad pitches,” Minor said. “Fastball over the middle, hanging curveball and a first-pitch hanging slider, so give credit to those guys. They were bad pitches. They took them out of the yard.”
Minor will look to return to his old ways on the road, where he is seventh in the majors with a 2.38 ERA. A win Wednesday would move him into a first-place tie with St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright with seven road wins.
The Royals accounted for one of Minor’s three losses on the season, even though the left-hander held them to one run and five hits in six innings of the Braves’ 1-0 loss April 17.
Kansas City has dropped five of six, scoring 12 runs in those defeats. Billy Butler hasn’t helped matters, going 3 for 18 (.167) with no extra-base hits during the team’s skid. Kansas City’s slump comes in spite of the best efforts of Mike Moustakas, who has hit .474 over that stretch. The third baseman saw his streak of four straight multi-hit games snapped Tuesday but still managed a double and a walk.
Butler and Moustakas will look to give Luis Mendoza (2-4, 4.30) some much-needed support. The right-hander has received just 14 runs of support over his last seven starts, five of which the Royals have lost. He is winless at home this season with a 5.88 ERA.
Mendoza surrendered four runs, four hits and three walks in five innings of Kansas City’s 6-3 loss at Cleveland Wednesday.
After losing 11 straight games at Kauffman Stadium earlier this season, the Royals have won eight of their last 12 at home.