ATLANTA – When the Braves recaptured Adam Duvall ahead of last year’s trade deadline, the general feeling was that the team shouldn’t have allowed the outfielder to go first. Duvall has always been a productive power hitter and a darling of teammates, coaches, officers and fans.
Recognizing Duvall’s perfect match with Atlanta, the Braves seem to have adapted his revival to a sudden resurrection. The veteran outfielder equalized in his first multihomer game of the season and extended the winning series to 11 games for the current World Series champions with a 5-3 victory over the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Trust Park.
Braves pitcher Kyle Wright said, “[Duvall] is the kind of stuff he can do when he’s hot. “It simply came to our notice then. Today he was naturally big with the bat, but he also plays well in the outfield. He deserves what he gets. He is an easy man to root. ”
The Braves’ longest winning streak began in 2013 when they suffered two disastrous defeats from the D-backs, trailing 23-27 – 10 1/2 games to overtake first-placed Mets in the National League East. If the Mets lose to the Angels on Sunday night, Atlanta will be just 4 1/2 games behind, its smallest divisional deficit since April 23.
Much is right for the Braves during this stretch. Ronald Acuña Jr. Playing on the right field every day, William Contreras is one of the top sluggers in the game and Michael Harris II has made an impact on the lineup and field in the early weeks of his career. Harris’ ability to play every day center has also helped Duvall, who has scored 9-of-27 in the last seven games, including two doubles, a triple and four homers.
Duvall was hitting .186 with two homers and .517 OPS this season before this seven-game game. It came after a 38-homer season that he equaled last year with Miami and Atlanta. After being acquired by the Braves on July 30, he hit 16 homers and created .800 OPS in 55 games.
“You get such a big, strong man, he can really help the offense and the team,” said Brian Snyder, the Braves manager.
Snyder has been worried about how playing center field on an off-season basis could adversely affect Duvall’s endurance, especially when he’s diabetic. Duvall served as a daily center fielder in Atlanta in September and October of last year, but was relieved by the regular post-season vacation.
With Harris playing a center-field role and Akuna now healthy enough to play the right field in each of the last 10 games, the duo could comfortably fill the left-field role. This arrangement keeps Dowell strong and significantly improves Atlanta’s outfield defense.
“I definitely noticed that I ran a lot less to the left than I did in the middle,” Duvall said. “I think it helped to get there.”
While Braves admires Duvall’s glove, its true value comes from the strength he showed in the final of the series against the Pirates. He drilled Jose Quintana in the second inning and Homer in the fourth inning. It was the 11th multihomer game of his career and the first for the Braves since the three-homer game on September 2 and 9, 2020.
“The way I felt today, I felt like I could have done much better [another high],” Duvall said. “Hopefully, there will be more chances.”
A little over a week after the Braves seemed to have hit rock bottom, now much loved their pitching staff, who received another strong six-inning effort from Wright on Sunday and a sudden deep and powerful lineup.
Contraras was seventh and Duval eighth in Sunday’s batting order. Contreras home in the second inning and doubled in the fourth inning. The young catcher, who spends most of his time behind the plate, has recorded extra-base hits in 18 percent (16 of 89) of his bat.
In ninth place is Harris, who hit .341 with .884 OPS and spent the month batting against Akuna and giving the Braves two fast leadoff hitters. This remains a formidable lineup, especially now that Duvall is showing its strength again.
“We have a good thing going on,” Duvall said. “There is a good clubhouse and good energy. When you don’t play the way you want to, you don’t get scared. We just believe in the process and it all works. “