David Mitchell commentary: Expect the Braves to have a few games like Wednesday's

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerApril 17, 2013 

Turn out the lights. Party’s over.

No home runs. No runs, actually.

Just about 14 hours after blasting five home runs, including three in the eighth inning, in a 6-3 victory, the Atlanta Braves were blanked 1-0 by the Kansas City Royals to split a brief two-game series.

Royals starter Wade Davis was dominant in a sterling seven-inning effort, striking out seven, while allowing five hits and no walks.

The Braves got just one runner into scoring position and had another thrown out at the plate.

Now is the moment when we ask how long the Braves can maintain their current pace offensively. How long can they rely on names like Evan Gattis, Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson? At what point do those ones at the beginning of batting averages of three key players begin to trigger at least minor concern?

To be honest, though, I’m not really all that surprised about this game. Not surprised about the 2-0 power outage in Atlanta’s only other loss against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, either.

When you abandon contact for more power, performances like this should be expected. It’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it will happen on occasion.

Take a look at the Braves’ batting statistics for a moment. They entered Wednesday’s game eighth in runs scored, first in home runs and fourth in slugging. On the other hand, they were just 12th in batting average and had struck out more than 25 other teams in the majors. They added 11 more strikeouts to that list in the loss.

A team that makes less contact gets fewer hits. It’s simple logic.

The Braves overcome it because they have the ability to produce runs from any slot in the order, but there will be days that the ball stays in the park and the Braves stay off the board.

We’ll need a larger sample size to see if that becomes a problem.

For now, though, the Braves can rest easy with the knowledge that, despite their dominant start, there is still plenty of room for growth.

First baseman Freddie Freeman is on the disabled list and should contribute with both contact and run production when he returns. Same for catcher Brian McCann, though his return is a bit further down the line. And, at some point, B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla are going to catch a bit of the magic that has inspired the rest of the lineup to such a hot start.

Wednesday’s loss to the Royals was nothing more than a reminder for the Braves and Braves fans, alike:

This team isn’t going to win 95 percent of its games and it isn’t going to hit one out of the park every night.

But the run producers it has throughout the lineup should provide much more good than it does bad over the course of the season’s 162 games.

If that happens, the party may last well into October.

David Mitchell, 706-571-8571, dmitchell@ledger-enquirer.com; Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports.

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