Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton makes a diving catch for the final out against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Turner Field on Sunday. The second-year player had two of the Braves seven hits in a loss to the Giants late Monday night. (Reuters)
SAN FRANCISCO — The Atlanta Braves are now in Round 2 in their experiment of batting the pitcher eighth, and the results are mixed only because the team has been winning more often than not.
If the goal were to create more offensive production, it is failing big-time.
When right-hander Gavin Floyd struck out in both at-bats Monday during Atlanta’s 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, it made Braves starting pitchers 1-for-14 in the seven games since they were promoted to the No. 8 spot in the lineup.
More important, the Braves continued to struggle scoring runs over that stretch. They scored three or fewer runs in six of the seven games, averaging just 2.6 runs over that stretch.
Floyd has the only hit among the Atlanta starting pitchers in that span.
However, with four wins in those games, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is willing to continue the look for the foreseeable future. Despite getting no hits from the starting pitchers, Atlanta won three in a row before Monday’s defeat.
MINOR READY TO GO: Mike Minor was a lot better in his first start than in his second, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The biggest positive is that first start came vs. the Giants, against whom Minor will get a second crack Tuesday in San Francisco. The left-hander gave up just two runs on seven hits in six innings in a 2-1 loss on May 2. Minor has a career 2-1 record and 2.93 ERA in five starts against the Giants.
FLOYD SECURES SPOT: Gavin Floyd has secured a spot in the Atlanta rotation without winning either of his first two starts. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has not decided who the odd man out will be among his six healthy starters, but he did say Monday that it would not be Floyd. The veteran posted his second consecutive strong outing Monday night in Atlanta’s 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, falling victim to a three-run seventh inning that could have been diffused by a potential double-play grounder that was booted by 1B Freddie Freeman.
LAIRD RIDING FLOYD’S COATTAILS?: Gerald Laird could be riding RHP Gavin Floyd’s coattails into a regular gig. Laird was behind the plate for the second consecutive time with Floyd on the mound Monday night, and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says he likes the way the tandem is meshing. Even though Laird is hitting just .171, he figures to continue to get the call every fifth day as long as Floyd continues to pitch well.
B.J. UPTON ALL OR NOTHING: B.J. Upton is turning into an all-or-nothing hitter, which is helping make his .211 batting average look more tolerable. Upton had two of Atlanta’s three hits — a home run and a double — Monday in the Braves’ 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Seven of Upton’s past eight hits have gone for extra bases.
JUSTIN UPTON RETURNS: Justin Upton went a meek 0-for-4 in his return to the lineup Monday in Atlanta’s 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Upton suffered a lower-back contusion when hit by a pitch Saturday against the Chicago Cubs. He sat out Sunday’s homestand finale against the Cubs, but he responded well to the cross-country flight and was back in his regular No. 2 spot in the lineup Monday.