Bottom of Braves lineup producing runs –

Bottom of Braves lineup producing runs -

PITTSBURGH — Facing Ronald Acuña Jr., Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley to start a game can be intimidating for any pitcher. But the numbers show that it’s also pretty dangerous to face anyone the Braves have placed in the bottom three spots of their lineup this year.

Max Fried bolstered his Cy Young Award resume and the bottom of the Braves’ lineup once again delivered in 6-1 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park. Atlanta tallied one hit through the first four innings, then began a five-run fifth with six straight hits.

“Just looking at it numerically, it’s a pretty crazy lineup,” Braves left fielder said. Robbie Grossmanwhich has improved Atlanta’s bottom hit since being acquired by the Tigers on August 2nd.

With Fried allowing just one run on three hits and one walk with seven strikeouts through eight innings, the Braves (77-48) moved within two games of the first-place Mets (79-46) in the National League East. Atlanta has won 13 of its past 15 games with the help of a strong rotation and productive lineup.

Just how deep is the lineup?

Well, the Braves lead the Majors with 78 RBI from the ninth spot in the order. The Dodgers entered Tuesday in second place with 65, while the Giants were third with 56. Atlanta is on pace to get 101 RBIs from ninth place. The guards of 1996 (100 RBIs) are the only team that counted a three-digit total of the final place of the order.

Looking at the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in the lineup, the Braves lead the majors in home runs (66), runs (203) and RBIs (196) from those batting order positions. The Dodgers rank second in each category. But they had 20 fewer home runs, five fewer runs scored and 24 fewer RBIs from these spots in their order when Atlanta finished their last win.

“I guess what makes a deep lineup is when guys perform, and we get good production from the bottom, from the bottom third,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Regardless of who was there, it was pretty good.”

Pirates starting pitcher JT Brubaker quickly learned about the depth of Atlanta’s lineup. After Travis d’Arnaud started the fifth with a game-tying home run, Michael Harris II sandwiched a double between a pair of singles scored by William Contreras and Vaughn Grissom. Grossman and Acuña capped the string of six straight hits with consecutive singles.

Within a span of six plate appearances, the Braves went from being on the wrong side of a one-hit bid to owning a 4-1 lead. Only one of those six plate appearances was made by a player who occupied one of the first four spots within the Braves’ lineup.

“Every single guy that goes up there is a threat to take you deep or get on base or get on base and steal a base,” Fried said. “It makes your margin for error much less. It puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Swanson, an All-Star this season, started the year batting ninth. Harris, a top NL Rookie of the Year candidate, has filled that spot regularly since his May 28 debut. Because Grossman recently sat at the bottom of the order, he distanced himself from the frustration he felt before being acquired by the Braves. .

Grissom tallied a career-high three hits on Tuesday and is now hitting .420 with a 1.123 OPS through the first 14 games of his career. Harris hit .301 with a .929 OPS in August, and Grossman has picked up some timely hits while building a .714 OPS since arriving in Atlanta.

The bottom of the lineup has allowed the Braves to keep winning while Swanson (.659 OPS) and Riley (.654 OPS) have underwhelmed their NL MVP resumes this month.

“[Grissom] and Mike has been playing off his ass since I got here,” Grossman said. “It was fun watching them play. I’m just lucky to be a part of it.”

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