The Atlanta Braves have hit their first rough stretch of the season.
Slumping Clint Barmes had a pair of run-scoring singles for his first two RBIs of the season, including a tiebreaking hit in the sixth inning Sunday that led the Pittsburgh Pirates over Atlanta 4-2 for their third straight win over the Braves.
“We’re just not capitalizing on our opportunities offensively,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’re not getting that big hit when we need it. We’re not catching any breaks either, like a broken-bat hit or a pitch going to the backstop. It’ll turn around, though. We’re playing good baseball.”
Charlotte Knights win, spoil sendoff for Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman
The Charlotte Knights scored four runs in the first inning and then the tie-breaking run in the seventh Sunday to top Gwinnett 5-4 and snap a four-game losing streak. A season-high 6,676 fans were in attendance for Atlanta Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman’s final rehab game.
The win came as Charlotte took advantage of Gwinnett reliever Dusty Hughes’ struggles. Hughes hit Seth Loman and walked two more batters in the inning with Bryan Anderson drawing the decisive bases-loaded walk.
Back-to-back singles by Luis Durango and Carlos Sanchez started the game and set up Charlotte’s four-run first. Gwinnett pitching pushed in the next two runs as Loman was hit by a pitch and Steve Tolleson walked. Brandon Short doubled to close out the early scoring.
Jason Heyward not concerned with slow start
Through his first 17 games this season, Braves outfielder Jason Heyward has a lower batting average (.121) than two the team’s starting pitchers. However, the young slugger said he is not fretting about the early slumber despite collecting just seven hits in 58 at-bats.
“I really don’t look at the numbers until it’s said and done,” Heyward told MLB.com on Sunday. “I just try to do as many things right as possible, and try to win as many ballgames by doing what I can at the dish, on defense and running the bases.”
Heyward has also struggled to take full advantage of hitting in front of Justin Upton, who leads the majors with nine home runs. He has, however, displayed better selection at the plate and is swinging at 40.9 percent of the pitches he has seen — down from the 46.3 percent he posted last year, according to Fangraphs.com.
“I feel like I just have to stay patient and get good pitches to hit,” Heyward said. “Even though I do have a bad man hitting behind me, they still don’t want to make too many mistakes with me this year.”