Braves’ Garcia has taken to ‘2-hole’ quite nicely

NEW YORK — Free-swinging Adonis Garcia is not a prototypical “2-hole” hitter. But he’s hit second in the Braves order 38 times including the past 29 games in a row, and if it looks like he’s gotten more comfortable in that spot, he has.

The third baseman had three hits including a decisive three-run homer in Tuesday’s 5-4 win against the Mets, and here’s what Garcia has done offensively over the past 20 games: .326 average (30-for-92) with seven doubles, three homers, 17 RBIs, .361 OBP and .500 slugging percentage.

Adonis Garcia had three hits including a three-run homer in the Braves' 5-4 win against the Mets Tuesday. (AP photo)

Adonis Garcia had three hits including a three-run homer in the Braves’ 5-4 win against the Mets Tuesday. (AP photo)

“I’m happy to be in the lineup wherever Snit wants me,” Garcia said after last night’s game, through Braves Spanish interpreter Franco Garcia. “But I have been in the two-spot for a while now, so I do feel a little more comfortable and I feel like I’m making some adjustments and I think you’re seeing the results of the time I’ve spent in the two-spot.”

Garcia homered off left-hander Jerry Blevins, who had entered the game to face left-handed hitter Ender Inciarte with one out, a runner on first base and the Braves ahead 2-1. Inciarte singled to bring up Garcia, with sizzling-hot Freddie Freeman waiting on deck.

Garcia pounced on Blevins’ first pitch, connecting for his 14th home run and ninth since the All-Star break.

“Kind of spaces our lineup, having him up there,” Braves interim manager Brian Snitker said of Garcia. “You’ve got to leave the lefty in to face Freddie, almost, and it gives him the opportunity and he comes up big right there. I said the other day, (Garcia) has a game where you wonder if you need to give him a day off, then he gets three hits and three RBIs. I mean, he’s a strong kid. He’s got some big hits all year for us.”

Six of Garcia’s 14 homers this season, and 11 of his 24 homers in two seasons, have either tied a game or given the Braves a lead.

He’s in an enviable position right now, batting between two sizzling hitters in leadoff man Inciarte and otherworldly Freeman in the 3-hole, with another hot-hitting veteran slugger, Matt Kemp, entrenched in the cleanup spot behind Freeman since Kemp joined the Braves Aug. 2. And behind Kemp, there’s a resurgent Nick Markakis.

Since the All-Star break, Inciarte has hit .359 and Freeman has hit .324 with 15 homers and a 1.099 OPS in 60 games. And since Kemp joined the Braves he’s hit .295 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 46 games.

As for Garcia, in 58 games since the break he’s hit .298 with 18 doubles and nine homers, a .344 OBP and .482 slugging percentage.

“It’s great to have Ender in front of me,” Garcia said. “I feel like every time I’m up to bat in every game, he’s always on base. That always helps out a lot. And to have Freeman and Kemp behind me like that protecting me, it’s not only giving me confidence, it’s helped me be able to focus a little bit more on what I need, whether it’s pitch selection or pitches I actually want to drive to right field. Having the protection has been crucial for me as well.”

In a statistical oddity, Garcia has a significantly higher average (.310) and on-base percentage (.373) against lefties than against righties (.260/.293) but only two homers in 129 at-bats against lefties, compared with 12 homers in 365 at-bats against righties. That’s six times as many homers vs. righties, but in fewer than three times as many at-bats.

• Freddie and Hank: Freeman has 31 homers, 42 doubles and six triples, and needs just one more extra-base hit to join Chipper Jones as the only Atlanta-era Braves to collect 80 or more extra-base hits in a season. (Chipper had 87 extra-base hits including 45 homers in his 1999 NL MVP season.)

Already, Freeman has joined a most distinguished of lists as just the second Braves player in overall franchise history to have as many as 30 homers, 40 doubles and five triples in a season. The only previous one: None other than the great Hank Aaron, who in 1959 had a franchise-record 92 extra-base hits including 39 homers, 46 doubles and seven triples.

• Young and old: The Braves go for a second consecutive Citi Field series sweep tonight when rookie Ryan Weber faces ancient, but still quite effective, Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Colon – he’s officially listed as 43 — is 5-1 with a 2.21 ERA and seven quality starts in his past nine outings, and the Mets have scored 5.7 runs per nine innings he’s pitched in that span. He’s 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and .219 opponents’ average in his past four starts at Citi Field, lasting seven innings in each of those games and giving up one or no runs in three of them.

Colon is 5-1 with a 2.89 ERA in eight starts against the Braves since the beginning of the 2015 season, including 1-1 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts this season. The loss was in a June 26 game at Atlanta when he gave up one run in seven innings while Bud Norris pitched seven scoreless innings in a 5-2 Braves win.

Against Colon, Freddie Freeman is 14-for-30 with a homer, Matt Kemp is 5-for-14 with a homer, Jace Peterson is 5-for-20 and Nick Markakis is 13-for-54 with a homer.

Weber is 0-4 with a 5.74 ERA in six career starts, including a loss in his only start this season Sept. 5 at Washington. He gave up six hits, five runs and two homers in three innings of that game, then came back 11 days later to limit the Nationals to two hits and one run in 4 2/3 relief innings Friday in Atlanta.

He’s 1-0 with a 4.45 ERA in 14 relief appearances this season at the major league level.

Weber has been hurt badly this season by left-handed batters, who are 21-for-59 (.356) against him with seven extra-base hits (two homers) and a .559 slugging percentage.

Also, with nobody on base and none out – i.e. leading off innings — he’s allowed a .419 average (13-for-31) with three homers.

Against Weber, Asdrubal Cabrera each is 1-for-1 with a homer and Michael Conforto is 1-for-3 with a homer.

• The amazing Leonard Cohen turns 82 today. Here’s one of his many, many terrific tunes. Happy birthday, sir.

“EVERYBODY KNOWS” by Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied
Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that you love me baby
Everybody knows that you really do
Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
Ah give or take a night or two
Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
But there were so many people you just had to meet
Without your clothes
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

And everybody knows that it’s now or never
Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
To the beach of Malibu
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

Everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows

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