Andrelton Simmons spent an unexpected day off making an adjustment to his swing.
So far, it’s working, and that’s partly why the Atlanta Braves are trying to win a road series with the Cincinnati Reds for the first time in over four years Tuesday night.
Article continues below ...
Simmons is known for his impressive fielding at shortstop — he’s yet to make an error in 126 chances this season — so he worked on his swing when Saturday’s game against the New York Mets was rained out. He was trying to keep his bat back a little longer so he could generate more power, and he’s certainly found some.
He’s 5 for 9 with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in the last two games, increasing his season average 28 points to .252.
Simmons, who hit .289 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 49 games as a rookie last year, turned in his best performance at the plate in the opener of this three-game series Monday. He collected three hits and had career highs with two homers and four RBIs to spur a 7-4 win over Cincinnati, ending Atlanta’s six-game slide there.
“That rainout really helped,” said Simmons, who has four homers. “I feel like I’m where I want to be right now.”
Simmons has six multihit games in his last 14, batting .321 over that span.
“When all is said and done after this year, we’re going to be talking about him as one of the best shortstops in baseball,” said catcher Brian McCann, who went 0 for 4 with a walk Monday in his return from offseason shoulder surgery.
While a change to his swing is paying off for Simmons, Kris Medlen (1-4, 3.38) takes the mound trying to solve his mechanical issues.
The right-hander has lost three straight starts with a 5.40 ERA.
He struggled early Thursday, giving up three runs in the first two innings before settling down and tossing five scoreless and leaving a 3-1 loss to Washington.
“I’m tired of doing interviews postgame saying, ‘I just kept us in the game,'” Medlen said. “If I’d cleaned it up from the get-go, I don’t give up any runs.”
Medlen has no record while allowing four runs in eight innings over five games versus the Reds. His only start against them came on July 30, 2010, when he allowed three runs in five innings of a 6-4 win in 10 at Great American Ball Park.
The Braves last series win there came when they took two of three from April 24-26, 2009.
Cincinnati, 12-5 at home, is slated to give the ball to Homer Bailey (1-3, 3.38), who will try to continue his success against Atlanta in order to win for the first time since a 15-0 victory over the Nationals in his season debut April 5.
He allowed two hits in six innings of that outing, but is 0-3 with a 4.02 ERA in five starts since.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA in three starts against Atlanta, and both wins have come at home.
He may need some help to end his recent winless stretch, during which he’s been backed by three total runs – none in three outings.
Bailey didn’t seem to need support much Wednesday, yielding one run through five innings. However, he was charged with three runs and was pulled with one out in the sixth of a 4-2 loss at St. Louis.
Joey Votto is 6 for 31 with two RBIs over his last nine meetings with the Braves. However, his RBI double from Monday is part of a nine-game stretch during which he’s batting .417.