ATLANTA -- As his sharp grounder was racing through the middle of the infield, Dansby Swanson was already thinking about reaching second base. This was the same determined spirit that had willed him to add to his defensive gems one inning earlier and persevere as his batting average sat below .200 throughout most of this season's first two months.
"I'm not surprised by anything he does," Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz said after following Swanson's hustle double with a pinch-hit single that concluded a 3-2 win over the Mets at SunTrust Park on Friday night.
Swanson certainly stole the show during this two-hit performance, that began with a two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning that briefly gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. While hitting .407 (11-for-27) over his past eight games, the Braves rookie shortstop has raised his batting average from .185 to a season-best .215.
"He could have cashed his chips in a long time ago and he just keeps working and believing in himself," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
While Ruiz might have delivered the decisive hit, Swanson essentially willed the Braves to victory when he directed Noel Salas' 0-2 fastball up the middle and immediately began thinking about reaching second base.
"They always say, "Make somebody stop you,'" Swanson said. "I just kept going and didn't really hesitate. I felt that was the right thing to do, and it worked out."
As Swanson rounded first base and saw center fielder Curtis Granderson still approaching the ball, he aggressively accelerated and didn't stop until he slid into second base with his hustle double.
"I think you've got to tip your cap to the kid," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "He came out of the batter's box hard and went hard all the way. Certainly, he probably caught us off-guard a little bit."
During the top of the eighth inning, Swanson showed off his tremendous defensive skills when he ranged to his right, slid into the edge of the outfield grass on his knees to stop a Wilmer Flores grounder before making a strong throw that Matt Adams grabbed in front of first base before tagging Flores.
"Those kind of guys think they can make all of the plays, and they never give up on a ground ball," Snitker said. "That's the thing. You keep making a play until you can't. When you do that, you make plays. Some guys shut it down and it's a base hit. Some guys keep trying to make plays."
And some guys have those instincts necessary to turn what appears to be a routine single into that double that had the Braves celebrating at the end of yet another night when Swanson showed why Snitker and so many others were willing to remain patient with him through the early-season struggles.
"He comes out of the box looking for two," Snitker said. "That's just a baseball player. That's why we love that kid like we do, because he never stops playing the game."