Home strand: Timely hits evading Braves

Club goes 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position in series vs. Crew

May 27th, 2016

ATLANTA -- Though the Braves produced an unexpected home run flurry while visiting Pittsburgh and Philadelphia last week, they returned home knowing their limited power potential might once again prove problematic while playing within the pitcher-friendly confines of Turner Field.

But the Braves were actually more frustrated by their inability to consistently produce timely hits as they opened this homestand by getting swept by the Brewers. They stranded 27 runners and went 1-for-23 with runners in scoring position during this three-game series, which concluded with Thursday night's 6-2 loss.

"Guys that hit with runners in scoring position are very valuable people," interim manager Brian Snitker said. "We're not doing it right now. We're getting guys on. We just can't pierce a gap."

The Braves scored in just three of the 31 innings played against Milwaukee, and all but one of their five runs came courtesy of the two-run home runs supplied by Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers. Given that the Braves had totaled just six home runs in their previous 19 home games, it was nice to get instant offense via a couple long balls.

But the Braves could have created more damage with a little assistance from their key run producer Freddie Freeman, who stranded 18 runners and went 1-for-15 during this three-game set. Unfortunately, this was just an extension of the run-producing woes experienced by Atlanta's first baseman, who has recorded just one hit in 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position dating back to April 24.

If Freeman straightens himself out and begins moving toward the mean, it could prove quite beneficial for the Braves. The 26-year-old slugger entered this season having his .313 with RISP from 2011-15. Despite battling a sore right wrist, he led the Majors last year when he batted .376 with RISP.

"When I was here before, [Freeman] hit like .380 with runners in scoring position," said Snitker, who served as Atlanta's third-base coach from 2007-13. "It's just kind of where we're at right now."

Freeman enjoyed a two-homer game on Friday in Philadelphia, but he has batted just .186 with a .238 on-base percentage as the Braves have gone 4-10 dating back to May 12. He went hitless when he came to bat with a runner on first and second base with one out or less in each of his first three at-bats on Wednesday.

Then during Thursday's series finale, Freeman went hitless in three at-bats with a runner at second base. His seventh-inning strikeout against Jhan Marinez with two on in a two-run game quieted Atlanta's best scoring opportunity and added to the frustration that he has experienced when he has far too often come up empty in these situations over the past month.