Dan's Dugout: Braves Surprise Their Own Manager • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Braves Surprise Their Own Manager

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FLUSHING, NY – Braves manager Brian Snitker admitted Friday that he’s surprised his team is battling for the division title in the National League East.

Braves boss Brian Snitker had some surprising things to say Friday in Flushing.
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Asked before the Mets game whether he keeps his eye on the scoreboard to check the progress of the equally surprising Philadelphia Phillies, Snitker smiled and said, “I’m just glad we’re in a position where I CAN care about that.”

Atlanta entered play this weekend with a 58-47 mark, just a half-game behind Philadelphia’s 60-48.

Both teams bolstered their rosters before the trade deadline passed Tuesday and have matched each other with 5-5 marks over the last 10 games.

“I think we did as well as anyone,” said Snitker, noting the Braves filled a trio of needs by obtaining starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, outfielder Adam Duvall, and relievers Jonny Venters, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day (sidelined by injury until 2019).

Moving rookie Ronald Acuna, Jr. to the leadoff slot has rejuvenated an Atlanta offense that had been sputtering. The Venezuelan outfielder is hitting .357 with a .449 on-base percentage and .762 slugging mark since making the move in Washington July 20.

Ronald Acuna has already been compared to Hank Aaron

It’s just coincidence that date coincides with the date man first walked on the moon.

But thanks to Acuna and his close friend Ozzie Albies, the All-Star infielder who bats immediately behind him, Atlanta has astronomical aspirations with just two months left in the season. Youth is on the team’s side, since Acuna is just 20 and Albies 21.

Another player who has thrived in his first full year with the team is closer-of-the-moment A.J. Minter, a lefthander awarded the job when veteran Aroldys Vizcaino hurt his shoulder.

“He’s grown much more comfortable with the role,” Snitker said of Minter. “He knows he’s the guy in a close game.”

Entering play Friday, Minter had a streak of 23 saves plus holds without suffering a blown save. Only Luis Avilan and Greg McMichael, who both had 27, rank ahead of the young southpaw on the Braves career list.

A rainout at home against the Miami Marlins Wednesday gave Gausman, the newest starter, a chance to collect his breath before breaking into the Atlanta rotation.

“I think it actually worked out well,” Snitker said. “It gave him a chance to get accustomed to his new coaches and teammates.”

Gausman is slated to make his National League debut Saturday at CitiField against Zack Wheeler, a pitcher the club had tried to acquire before the trade deadline.

Julio Teheran seeks more consistency during the stretch drive.

Julio Teheran, a Colombian righthander who is traditionally terrific against the Mets, will start for the Braves Sunday.

Although Anibal Sanchez has been the most surprising starter in the Atlanta rotation with a 5-3 record and 3.00 ERA before his start Friday, he has not beaten the Mets since 2010, when he was with the Florida Marlins.

After struggling against NL East rivals last year, the Braves went 32-16 against divisional rivals before the weekend began. Their 10-3 record against the Mets included four wins against Jacob deGrom, Friday’s Mets starter.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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