ATLANTA (AP) — Midway through the season, manager Brian Snitker says the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves have made an impressive recovery from a slow start.
Perhaps the most impressive revival belongs to Dansby Swanson†
“Incredible,” said Snitker of Swanson’s continued hot-hitting.
“It’s solid now,” the manager added. “It’s no longer a small sample size.”
St. Louis loaded the bases for some big hitters in the ninth, but Will Smith struckout Nolan Arenado and grounded out Albert Pujols on a grounder back to the mound for his fifth save.
Swanson’s basesloaded double was the big hit against Dakota Hudson (6-5) in the second. Swanson also doubled and scored in the first.
Swanson hit just .236 on May 23. Since then, he has had the most hits in the majors, raising his batting average to .304. His 37 hits in June were the most by a Braves shortstop in a month since Omar Infante’s 43 in August 2010.
“He deserves all his success and he will continue to do it just because of the way he works,” said Braves right-hander. Kyle Wrightwho gave up no earned runs in four innings.
The wave has come as Swanson approaches a potential free choice while being represented by the same Excel Sports Management, including agent Casey Close, used by former Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Freeman signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers after failing to agree a deal with Atlanta.
Swanson, 28, hit only .248, but set career highs with 27 home runs and 88 RBI’s, while helping Atlanta win the World Series last season.
The Braves (47-34) finished 21-6 in June, after finishing 23-27 in May.
“We’ve clearly come a long way since two months ago,” Snitker said.
Matt Olson had two RBI singles for Atlanta, both times at Swanson.
There was a delay of 2 hours 37 minutes before the match-up of the second-placed teams resumed in the fifth inning at 11:29 PM.
The Braves were 3 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets in the NL East. The Cardinals fell three games behind division-leading Milwaukee in the NL Central.
Atlanta righthander Jesse Chavez (2-1) gave up homeruns Newbies Juan Yepez and Conner Capel in the sixth. Capel’s homer to midfield was the first of his career.
Hudson gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks in four innings.
St. Louis righthander Johan Oviedo left the game after a line drive hit by Michael Harris II hit Oviedo’s right hand in the sixth. The cardinals said the x-rays were negative.
After scoring one run in the first when Olson’s singled into Swanson, the Braves sent nine batters to the plate in the second. Ronald Acuna Jr. drove into a run with a basesloaded walk after Hudson hit Harris with a pitch.
With three runners moving on a full pitch, Swanson’s double to left-center made it 5-0. Olson’s second points scoring single pushed it to 6-0.
Eddie Rosario, who had laser surgery to correct blurred vision and a swollen right retina, came off the injured list and got one hit when he started in left field for Atlanta.
BLESSING IN DISguise
The long delay cost Wright a chance at his 10th win. Wright gave up one unearned run and three hits in four innings. The Braves led 6-1 before the break.
“It’s a blessing in disguise, if you will, to have a little lighter workload and less recovery time,” Wright said.
Cardinals catcher Austin Romine was held without a hit after being promoted from Triple-A Memphis.
Romine, an 11-year veteran, started the season with the Angels before being released and signing a minor league deal with the Cardinals on June 17. He replaced Iván Herrera, who had only two hits in 18 at bats and was given the option to go to Memphis. †
Cardinals: LHP Génesis Cabrera (undisclosed), placed on the injured list on June 25, is expected to throw into the bullpen on Tuesday. When asked if Cabrera needs a rehab job, manager Oliver Marmol said: “We’ll see what tomorrow looks like.” … Marmol said that C Yadier Molina (inflammation of the right knee) “works hard and feels better”. … LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder impingement) will make his next rehab start on Thursday with Triple-A Memphis.
Braves: OR Adam Duvall, hit by a pitch to his left hand in Cincinnati on Saturday, was held out. “It’ll be a few more days before he can swing,” Snitker said. … RHP Mike Soroka pitched a live batting practice on Saturday at the Braves complex in North Port, Florida. Soroka, who is trying to recover from his second Achilles tendon surgery, is getting closer to starting a minor league rehab period with the goal of returning in August.
Braves RHP Ian Anderson (6-5, 5.31 ERA), who has conceded a total of 11 runs by losing his last two starts, will face Cardinals rookie RHP Andre Pallante (2-3, 2.10) on Tuesday night. Anderson will make his first career start against St. Louis.
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