For most teams, a five game winning streak is no big deal. Not so for the 2016 Atlanta Braves. The current streak has fans wondering if the team is starting to turn things around or if it’s just a fluke.
Most fans, especially the nameless trolls on line, will think the latter.READ MORE: Meals On Wheels For Kids' Holidays On Wheels Needs Volunteers
For me, three things have happened to lead to the Braves current success. One, the Braves are getting a number of two-out hits (believe me, they matter). Two, Freddie Freeman has heated up. And three, Ender Inciarte has led by example.
Freeman was just named National League Player of the Week. His eye popping numbers for the week of June 13 thru June 19: A .548 batting average with nine extra-base hits and three home runs. He also had two four-hit games over a five-day period.
But it’s been the play by Inciarte that has inspired the team and has been the catalyst for the current modest run.
Inciarte’s value to the team was never more evident than Saturday night when the Braves beat the Mets 4-3 for their fourth straight win.
Trailing 3-0 in the top of the fifth, the Braves, thanks to an RBI single by Chase d’Arnaud and solo homers from Jeff Francoeur and Tyler Flowers, tied the game. In the top of the eighth, Inciarte turned a single into a double by sheer effort. He later took third as Curtis Granderson lazily threw a ball back into the infield after a Francoeur lineout. The play set up the eventual winning run, as Inciarte raced home on a wild pitch from the Mets’ Addison Reed.
In that span of 10 minutes Saturday night, the effort, hustle and fire displayed by the Braves’ 25 year old centerfielder propelled the team to the win.READ MORE: Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Deputy Involved Shooting
“That was two of the gutsiest, greatest base-running plays I’ve ever seen, I think,” Braves manager Brian Snitker told mlb.com after the game. “It’s just kind of taking advantage of the situation and not taking anything for granted and just letting things play out and reacting.”
Then to cap off the baserunning heroics, Inciarte, Erick Aybar and Flowers combined for a text-book relay to cut down Wilmer Flores at the plate in the bottom of the ninth to help preserve the win.
I’ve seen it before, when one man inspires a team and thus turns around a season. Now, I’m not saying what happened Saturday night in the eighth inning will reverse the Braves’ fortunes in 2016. But it served to show the negative fans (you know who you are) that this team has not quit.
I’ve always thought that the steal of the Arizona-Atlanta trade in December was not Aaron Blair, was not Dansby Swanson, but was Inciarte all along. Last season, only his second season in the majors, he batted .303 with 159 hits and 21 stolen bases.
Swanson, now the Braves #1 minor league prospect, and Aaron Blair arrived on potential. That’s the funny thing about sports fans: they get more excited about potential than actual performance.
Ender Inciarte has performed, and now has led by example. Aside from Freeman, he is the Braves’ top offensive player.MORE NEWS: Paranormal And Horror Convention Coming To Florida
Let’s hope the team follows his lead and turns a dismal season into one that is respectable.