The Braves could be on the cusp of turning things around after going on a winning streak that includes a three-game road sweep of the Augusta GreenJackets and a doubleheader sweep at home Friday against the Charleston RiverDogs.
The team went into Saturday night’s game on a five-game winning streak after winning just three games in its previous 14.
“We’re starting to turn it around,” Rome manager Rocket Wheeler said after Friday’s games. “Anytime you can win both ends of a doubleheader, plus we’re coming of a three-game stretch — winning three there (Augusta) and two here — yeah it’s a good streak going.”
After the promotion of ace pitcher Bruce Zimmermann and leading hitter Riley Delgado, Rome wavered trying to find its rhythm again.
But a doubleheader against the RiverDogs on Friday seemed to answer some of those questions. Jefrey Ramos hit a three-RBI triple in Game 1 while Jean Carlos Encarnacion knocked a three-run shot on the first pitch he saw in the opening inning of Game 2.
Drew Lugbauer made the score 4-0 when he hit a solo shot to right field on the first pitch delivered his way. On the mound John Curtis, who joined the team from Danville back near the end of June, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out four. He’s 1-1 on the season with Rome.
Still the Braves have a lot of ground to catch up as they remain near the bottom of the Southern Division standings.
But the Braves’ bats have started to come alive and their pitching is improving after the departure of All-Star pitcher Patrick Zimmermann.
With the Braves having solidified their place in the playoffs, Wheeler says the outcome of the season’s first half doesn’t change their outlook on the second half.
“Not at all,” said Wheeler. “Guys are going to play, and guys are going to pitch. We’re going to go out and do what we do every night. We’re going to win some, we’re going to lose some. As long as these kids play hard, and that’s all we ask them to do, we’ll go from there.”
Ramos, Lugbauer and Encarnacion are just some of the key players on the team that helped the Braves win the first half. Drew Waters, Derian Cruz and William Contreras are also still in Rome.
The doubleheader sweep against the GreenJackets on Tuesday, which started the Braves’ streak, was the first time since the All-Star game the Braves have earned back-to-back wins.