MILWAUKEE — A week ago, Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker insisted that his team was close to snapping out of an early-season offensive funk.
The Braves have made him look clairvoyant.
Averaging four runs a game through their first 20 contests this season, the Braves have put 21 on the board in their last two games at Milwaukee, where they will go for a series sweep Sunday afternoon against the Brewers at Miller Park.
“We knew that’s what we were capable off,” Snitker said Saturday after an 11-3 romp over the Brewers, powered by three home runs from Matt Kemp. “It’s just one of those things where you have to grind away because you know it’s in there. We get stretched out, play some consistent games. These guys get everyday at-bats and they start doing what they’re capable of doing.”
Snitker was especially pleased to see rookie shortstop Dansby Swanson snap out of his shell Saturday with a two-hit night that included his second home run of the season. Swanson had been off to a rough start this season, but has been showing signs of progress.
“It feels great, just where I’m at right now,” Swanson said. “It is just kind of one of those things where you’ve been working toward something and finally you start to feel like it is paying off, it is a cool feeling.
“I’m just happy I can be surrounded by guys that keep you level-headed whether things are going great or they are not going well at all. That’s what I am surrounded with here. I thank them as much as I can because they are so awesome and so much fun to be around.”
Mike Foltynewicz takes the mound behind that Braves offensive group, looking for his first victory of the season.
He has made three career appearances against the Brewers, going 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA. He faced them once last season and did not take a decision after allowing a run on four hits while striking out seven.
The Braves will not have Brandon Phillips in the starting lineup Sunday. He returned to action Saturday after missing two games with a sore groin and felt fine, but Snitker said he wanted to avoid the quick turnaround and would limit Phillips to pinch-hitting duties in the series finale.
“That was kind of the plan,” Snitker said. “I just don’t like doing those guys coming back from those things on short days, when they don’t get a full day. He’ll be able to pinch-hit. But the plan was to play him after they loosened him all up (Saturday). Hopefully we can stay away from him (Sunday), then a night game on Monday, it’ll be alike a day and a half almost off.”
Milwaukee right-hander Matt Garza will be tasked with slowing down the Braves’ suddenly resurgent offense.
He is coming off his first start of the 2017 season, when he received no decision after allowing four runs — one earned — on four hits over four innings Monday against the Reds. Garza’s start to the year was delayed by a groin strain suffered in his final Cactus League start.
He has made seven career starts against the Braves, going 1-4 with a 4.65 ERA.
Jimmy Nelson, the Brewers’ starter on Saturday, had trouble controlling the Braves’ attack.
“They put some good swings on some good pitches,” Nelson said. “There were probably a couple of pitches where I could have had a different pitch selection. We might have had a different result.”