ATLANTA -- Pushed down a couple spots in the lineup to make room for the Braves' newly acquired power hitters, Dansby Swanson enjoyed a two-homer game on Saturday, demonstrating how much deeper the lineup has suddenly become.
Swanson capped his career-best seven-RBI performance with a seventh-inning grand slam and Jorge Soler made his presence felt in his Braves debut as the club continued to alternate wins and losses with an 8-1 victory over the Brewers at Truist Park.
“We've definitely shown in spurts that we can compete with anybody,” Swanson said. “I don't think we've been overmatched before and I feel like we've gotten even better now. It will be a fun next couple of months and hopefully we just keep rolling.”
With Swanson's fifth career multi-homer game and his second dating back to July 11, the Braves sufficiently backed Kyle Muller’s strong start and stayed within four games of the first-place Mets in the NL East. They also passed the Phillies to move into second place.
Atlanta has alternated wins and losses over each of its past 15 games, surpassing the previous franchise record of 14, set by the 1895 Boston Beaneaters. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the longest such streak since the Rockies did it from Aug. 3-19, 2010.
Consistent success may now be more attainable courtesy of the four proven veterans -- Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Soler and right-handed reliever Richard Rodriguez -- acquired ahead of Friday's Trade Deadline. Duvall and Soler were in the lineup together for the first time on Saturday and Rodriguez navigated a scoreless eighth.
“[The new lineup] looked pretty good, even starting out when I wrote it down,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I think we’re definitely going to have longer lineups with the personnel that we have.”
Swanson delivered the biggest hit of the night after seemingly looking at a called third strike in the sixth. Given a chance to extend his at-bat after plate umpire CB Bucknor called Brandon Woodruff’s 2-2 pitch a ball, the shortstop hammered the next pitch over the left-field fence for a go-ahead two-run homer.
“I thought it was a strike, just like I think everybody else did,” Swanson said. “I'll definitely be honest about that. I think my momma would come in here and whoop me if I wasn't being honest. He made a good pitch. It happened to go in our favor. I regrouped and put a good swing on the next one."
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Swanson still deserved credit for taking advantage of the middle-middle slider Woodruff threw with the next pitch. The Milwaukee All-Star hurler entered with a 2.14 ERA and he hadn’t allowed a homer in his past five starts.
“It was strike three,” Counsell said. “I think the hitter told us that, too. Give Swanson credit. Woody made a pitch he didn't want to make and Swanson hit a home run. I give Swanson credit. You’ve still got to hit the pitch.”
One inning later, Swanson drilled a grand slam off right-handed reliever John Curtiss. The 27-year-old's only previous grand slam came against the Phillies on July 22.
“Shout-out to Dansby Swanson,” Braves left-hander Kyle Muller said after allowing one run in five innings. “That was absolutely incredible what he did tonight.”
Soler showed he could prove serviceable in right field and recorded hits in both of his first two at-bats, totaling three on the night in a flashy Braves debut of his own. The former Royals designated hitter’s fourth-inning single moved Austin Riley to second base and in position to score on Swanson’s RBI single.
But the night truly belonged to Swanson, who's gone on a bit of a surge in recent weeks. After the conclusion of play on July 4, he was hitting .230 with 13 homers and a .714 OPS. In the 22 games that have followed, he has hit .315 with seven homers and a 1.005 OPS. He now stands as the first Braves shortstop to produce a 20-homer season since Denis Menke of the 1964 Milwaukee Braves.
“I think perseverance is such a big thing in this game and a big thing in life,” Swanson said. “You’ve just got to keep going forward and continue to put forth the effort. Nothing can happen without working for something.”