video thumbnail

SF@ATL: Heyward brings home Pena on sacrifice fly

The last time the Cardinals visited Turner Field, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to try putting Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot. Atlanta entered July 27, 2013, having lost 11 of its last 20, and Gonzalez wanted to shake things up.

The move paid dividends as the Braves finished 25-7 in games Heyward played from that point forward en route to winning the National League East title.

Heyward batted .322 (38-for-118) with six homers, 16 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 14 walks, 22 strikeouts and a .403 on-base percentage atop Atlanta's lineup.

"Maybe I'm kind of dumb for waiting this long," Gonzalez said following Heyward's first career leadoff home run last Aug. 14. "Have you ever thought that way? I'm sure there are people thinking, 'Why did you wait this long to do this?'"

Atlanta may be due for another shakeup after six straight losses as St. Louis starter Shelby Miller takes the hill opposite Aaron Harang on Monday at Turner Field.

"Maybe tomorrow we'll come up with a little something different, but nothing major because this is a club and this is a team that won the division," Gonzalez said on Sunday. "But sometimes we need a little break here and there."

If the Braves, who have been outscored 32-10 during their six-game skid, are going to turn their fortunes around offensively, they need consistency from Heyward, something he has shown since his streaky start at the plate so this season.

Heyward has seen his batting average climb as high as .375 and dip as low as .107 during the first 30 games of 2014, but he appears to be finally achieving consistency atop the Braves' order.

Although his six-game hitting streak was snapped as he finished 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly on Sunday, Heyward has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games, batting .305 (18-for-59) with five doubles, three walks and 11 strikeouts during the stretch.

"You want to go in there and keep it simple," Heyward said. "Get a good pitch to hit and just put up a good AB and take what the game gives you."

Cardinals: Garcia hit by pitch in first rehab start; Motte pitches in relief

The Cardinals got some encouraging news earlier this week when it was announced Jaime Garcia would join Double-A Springfield this weekend to begin his rehabilitation assignment for left shoulder inflammation. Excitement over Garcia's first rehab start quickly turned into concern Sunday afternoon after Garcia was hit in the left elbow by a pitch in his second-inning at-bat and was removed from the game.

X-rays came back negative and Garcia has a bruise. He will return to St. Louis for further evaluation.

Righty Jason Motte also joined Garcia in Springfield for a rehabilitation assignment as he continues to progress from Tommy John surgery in May 2013. He struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning.

Braves: Floyd to start in place of Santana on Tuesday
Gavin Floyd will make his first MLB start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last May when he fills in for Ervin Santana on Tuesday against St. Louis.

Santana will be skipped due to a bruise on his right hand near his thumb he suffered while batting against the Reds on April 25. It began swelling again late in his start against the Marlins on Thursday, leading to the decision to give him extra rest.

Santana's injury helps temporarily clear up Floyd's situation as he was activated from the disabled list on Sunday. Whether Floyd will join the starting rotation or more likely end up pitching in the bullpen and making occasional starts will be decided later.

"It's going to take care of itself for a week or five or six days, but then we're going to have to make a decision the next time around," Gonzalez said. "We're not going to go with a six-man [rotation] the rest of the way, but for now, it took care of itself."

Worth noting
• The Braves' current six-game losing streak is their third longest under Gonzalez. They dropped eight straight from May 21-28, 2012, and lost nine straight games by dropping the final five games of the 2011 season and the first four of 2012.

• Both Atlanta and St. Louis have struggled with runners in scoring position. The Braves are batting .210 (43-for-205), and the Cardinals are batting .227 (62-for-273).

• Randal Grichuk's second-inning triple in Sunday's 5-3 win over the Cubs was the first extra-base hit of his career. 

• Matt Adams went 2-for-4 on Sunday, his Major League-leading 15th multihit game of the year. He's hitting .366 (34-for-93) in 24 games against NL Central opponents. Comments