Found August 11, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
ATLANTA -- Taking three cuts as the Braves got back on track with an 8-4 win over the Marlins Sunday at Turner Field. 1. Braves offense regained its mojo During the Braves' 14-game winning streak they did little wrong, but above all they proved both opportunistic and disciplined. They hit .317 (41 of 129) with runners in scoring position and they struck out an average of 7.5 times, which isn't spectacular, but it was nearly 1.2 below their season average. After Brian McCann's third-inning home run Friday night, the Braves seemed to get off track in both departments. They fanned six times after McCann's blast in the win, then fanned 10 times in Saturday's loss and between the homer and Sunday, they failed to get a hit with RISP. That was partly due to the fact that after averaging 9.2 such chances during they streak they generated had just three from the McCann homer on, but they were out of sorts nonetheless. Atlanta regained its potency Sunday, delivering five times in 14 chances with men in scoring position -- and fittingly the biggest contribution came from Freddie Freeman. "It was one of those days after (Saturday), losing 1-0 on a wild pitch and the way we started was like 'Oh, this is going to be one of those days,'" manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But these guys battled." The All-Star pulled Henderson Alvarez's two-seam fastball to left field for a three-run home run, his 14th of the season. It was Freeman's 43rd hit in 95 at-bats with RISP, putting him second in the majors with a .452 average, which trails only the Cardinals' Allen Craig (.459). The Braves also cut down on their strikeouts with six, but in doing so they did hit a dubious mark before we've hit the second full week in August. Chris Johnson's fourth-inning whiff gave Atlanta 1,000 on the season, making them one of only two teams to already hit that figure (the Astros being the other) and with 45 games remaining they're still on pace to eclipse the franchise record of 1,289 set in 2012. 2. Despite getting the win, Minor's impressive run came to an end Over his last six outings heading into Sunday, Mike Minor had gone 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA, allowed an average of 5.1 hits and had a 33:8 stakeout:walk ratio -- and he had a quality start every time. Through five innings, Minor looked poised to add another QS, which would have been his seventh straight and the 20th of the season, tying him with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw and Diamondbacks' Patrick Corbin for the major league lead. But Minor's latest run ended after Placido Polanco advanced Giancarlo Stanton to third base with a line drive single, Ed Lucas followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Stanton, marking the fourth earned run of Minor's day and putting him one over the QS limit of three. To Minor's credit, he didn't get much help during the Marlins' three-run second inning, as Jake Marisnick hit an RBI single over Justin Upton's head and Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla missed out on a chance to end the inning during a miscommunication on Koyie Hill's popup, which was followed by Alvarez's two-run double. Minor (12-5) would rebound, retiring 10 of the next 11 batters he faced and would leave after yielding six runs in seven innings as he struck out six and walked one en route to setting a career-high in victories. "I thought he was outstanding," Gonzalez said. "We got him a hole a little bit but he battled and gave us seven strong innings and became the pitcher of record. That's where the good ones stick around. They hang around, they hang around and all of a sudden we score and he gets the 'W.'" It's all a continuation of an eye-opening season for the Braves' 25-year-old ace-in-the-making, who already has an eight-game QS streak under his belt this season from May 3-June 9 and has just one two-game stretch (June 15 and June 20 vs. the Giants and Mets, respectively), when he didn't have a quality start. 3. Heyward has found a home at leadoff It's telling that even in starting Jordan Schafer, who had hit in the top spot in 20 of his 26 starts, Gonzalez was sticking with Heyward at leadoff, instead penciling Schafer in at eigthh -- and that's because Heyward has been that good since moving up in the lineup. The rest of the Braves to have hit atop the order are 164-of-620 on the season with slash lines of .264.341.379, while Heyward is at .351.439.509, going 20-of-57 with three doubles, two homers, eight walks and 11 RBI in 15 games at leadoff. He's been outside that spot just once since July 27, hitting ninth on Aug. 3 a game, coincidentally, in which he went hitless. Heyward added to his strong play atop the order Sunday, going 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. It was his fourth career four-hit game and the first since Sept. 1, 2010 against the Mets. "He can hit anywhere, really, and putting him in the leadoff spot, and getting him on base and getting some big, clutch hits ... it's big," Gonzalez said.
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