ATLANTA: What a difference a week makes. Eight days after calling a rare team meeting, Braves manager Brian Snitker finds his team on Thursday night at Truist Park on a winning streak that reached eight games with a 3-1 win over the Pirates.
Max Fried escaped multiple threats over six innings and Adam Duvall sparked the early offensive production that led the Braves to their longest winning streak since winning nine straight games on August 13-22, 2021. The defending World Series champions were four games down. 500 (23-27) when that eight-game streak began.
“You’re going to have to weather storms,” Snitker said. “You get stretches over the course of six months that you can’t do anything about. you have to wear it And when you do that, there’s usually some good on the other side.”
A year after winning the World Series, the Braves, despite not having a winning record as of August, never panicked as they struggled through the first two months of this season. But with a strong Mets team at the top of the National League East, Atlanta recognized that winning a fifth straight division title could depend on things being turned around in this friendly part of its schedule.
That winning streak consisted of one win against the D-Backs, four against the Rockies, two against the A’s, and one against the Pirates. By winning those games, they should “win,” the Braves have won four games with the Mets and are now just 6 1/2 games behind first-place finisher in the NL East.
“We definitely didn’t feel like we were living up to the standards that we have for ourselves,” Duvall said. “For whatever reason, we couldn’t get into that role. It’s good to get everyone together sometimes and make sure we’re on the same page, just to refocus a bit and make sure the #1 goal at the end of the day is to win the game.”
A few hours before that winning streak began with a June 1 win in Arizona, Snitker gathered his players in the clubhouse and stressed the need to get their focus back. Less than 24 hours earlier, his team had made multiple baserun errors, been thrown on wrong bases, and lost a comfortable lead against the D-backs.
“We played hard and did all that, the train just went off the tracks a little bit,” Snitker said.
An easy way for a team to self-correct is the type of pitching the Braves have displayed while allowing two runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. The bullpen continued to be a strength, and the rotation was led by Fried and Kyle Wright, who strengthened their respective All-Star resumes over the past week.
Fried limited the Pirates to a six-inning run but wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was Friday when he conceded just two hits over eight scoreless innings at Coors Field. But the left-hander used his great pickoff pull to get out of trouble in the first inning and limit damage while allowing at least two hits in four of the first five innings.
Fried has produced a 2.21 ERA in the 11 starts he’s made since his opening-day stumble. As for Duvall, his struggles lasted much longer after a season of 38 homers. The veteran fielder entered June, hitting .190 with a .526 OPS. He’s hit .320 with three doubles, a triple, two homers and a 1.080 OPS in the seven games he’s played this month.
“I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing, but I’ve learned to deal with some rough spots,” Duvall said. “I feel like I’ve been in some places that aren’t necessarily ideal.”
Where the Braves were a little over a week ago certainly wasn’t ideal. But things looked very different now that a powerful and deep cast has begun to take shape.
Ronald Acuña Jr. (1.205), William Contreras (1.102), Duvall (1.080) and Austin Riley (1.054) have all produced a four-digit OPS with at least 20 At-bats this month.
With that winning streak, the Braves have regained some of the confidence that helped them weather a turnaround that led them to a World Series title.
“It’s waiting for something to go right, rather than waiting for something to go wrong,” Snitker said. “That is the difference. You can never explain the how or why in this matter.”