Braves showing more patient approach at the plate
MIAMI -- After watching his guys tally a seven-run first inning and collect 14 hits during Tuesday night's 12-2 win over the Marlins, Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer felt the most influential moment might have occurred when Eric Young Jr. showed patience while drawing a walk to begin the game.
"EY goes 3-1 and takes to go 3-2 and ends up drawing the walk," Seitzer said. "If he [swings] on 3-1 and grounds out or pops up or lines out, [Marlins starting pitcher Mat Latos] has a chance to settle in. That kind of set the tone."
With limited power potential spread throughout their lineup, the Braves will need to continue showing the patience that they did against Latos, who threw 38 pitches before exiting with two outs in the first inning and Atlanta holding a 7-0 lead.
Six of the 12 batters the Braves sent to the plate in the first inning experienced a two-strike count, and five of those six batters reached base safely. This included Nick Markakis, who displayed his veteran poise when he slapped a 0-2 slider the other way to score Young with the game's first run.
Freddie Freeman and Christian Bethancourt followed Markakis' key single with consecutive RBI doubles, and Chris Johnson accounted for another run when he added a double of his own later in the inning. Andrelton Simmons began his three-hit night with a two-run single in the frame, and Young capped the early outburst when he scored Simmons with a single of his own.
"They really had good at-bats," Seitzer said. "They didn't try to do too much and just battled. They stayed with their approach, put good [at-bats] together. It was good to break out early like that."
It would not be wise to make too much out of what the Braves have done through the first two games of this season. But as they have consistently put the ball in play and taken extra bases when possible, they have at least provided a glimpse of the small-ball approach that they believe will prove more efficient than the long-ball route that they took the past two years.
The Braves have totaled 12 strikeouts through the first two games of this season, and six of those were registered in consecutive fashion when the Marlins were able to create some favorable matchups with their relievers on Monday.
After being set down by strikes seven times during the season opener, the Braves struck out five times on Tuesday. Though this is a tiny sample size, it is at least worthy to note for future analysis that Atlanta struck out seven or fewer times in 38 percent (61 of 162) of games last year.
"It's obviously only been two games, but that is better than no games," Freeman said. "We're going out there, putting some runs on the board and producing some good [at-bats]. When that happens, you score some runs."