The Braves need to shake out of this hitting slump and start winning again

Published 7:21 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

The Atlanta Braves have really been in a prolonged hitting slump recently with runners in scoring position.

Two different times in their series against the Seattle Mariners in Seattle, the Braves had the bases loaded with nobody out. The first time they did not score at all, and the second time they scored just once.

Usually reliable clutch hitters like first baseman Freddie Freeman, catcher Evan Gattis and third baseman Chris Johnson are all in prolonged batting slumps. The only reliable clutch hitter in recent games has been right fielder Jason Heyward, but he cannot do it all himself.

During this slump, the Braves’ one bright spot has been strong starting pitching. Right-handers Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang, Julio Teheran and former University of Georgia Bulldog Alex Woods have all pitched well in losing efforts just because the hitting was not there.

The Braves returned home Friday to begin a three-game home stand with the National League Eastern Division Nationals, and that makes the series extremely critical. A series win would put the Braves right back in the race, but if the Nationals were to win the series, the Braves would be in a steep hole. While not technically out of the race, they would face a steep climb to get back in it.

To add to the Braves’ problems right now, slick fielding, Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons twisted his ankle badly in Seattle and will be out of the lineup for a while.

While baseball can be a very frustrating sport, it is time for the Braves to put all their hitting and injury problems behind them and just relax to play baseball. They have a lot of proven hitters in their lineup and they should not remain in a slump for an extended time.

Following the series with the Nationals, the Braves will host the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics at Turner Field. The Athletics are one of the best teams in the American League. That makes it even more critical that they turn things around quickly.

Considering their recent losing streak, the Braves were indeed fortunate to trail the Nationals by just four games entering this week’s home stand, but they can not allow the hitting slump to go on very much longer.