After enduring a ragged first half to the season -- during which they compiled the worst half-season record in team history — the Braves have engineered a complete transformation in the second half.
They currently sit in first place, and on Thursday, they tied the Rome franchise record by winning their 11th straight game when they downed the Augusta GreenJackets 10-2 at State Mutual Stadium.
The 2004 Rome team also won 11 straight.
“They’re playing really good and just clicking on all cylinders right now,” said manager Randy Ingle. “They’re picking each other up, and it seems like it’s someone different every game.
“It’s a combination of everybody contributing.”
With Thursday’s win, the Braves completed a perfect 7-0 homestand. Tonight, they will try to break the club record with their 12th straight win they they play at Kannapolis.
In the first half of the season, the Braves finished with an 18-52 record. Still, the Braves never gave up until the final out.
The team still continues that through their massive success of the second half.
n the perfect homestand, five of the wins were come-from-behind victories.
“Even in the first half, they didn’t quit,” said Ingle. “There were a lot of games (in the first half) that we got down early by a lot and we kept coming back, but we just couldn’t come back far enough.
“I though that made them stronger by doing that and now we’ve been able to keep the game close and they don’t quit,” added Ingle. “They’re in it to win it.”
No matter the deficit, they’ve faced, the R-Braves just keep finding a way to come back.
“When we get down, it just clicks and our offense is rolling right now and so is our pitching,” said outfielder Robby Hefflinger. “We’re getting production from our one through nine hitters, from the bullpen, and our starters are going deep into games now.”
It was Hefflinger who fueled the comeback win on Thursday. In the game, he hit two homers and drove five runs, which was half of the Rome’s runs.
“The atmosphere in the locker room is just outstanding, and it’s fun,” added Hefflinger. “We’re playing relaxed and it makes winning more fun, and when we do lose it makes it easier to overcome the loss.”
The Braves have been battling for first since the second half began, and now, the 11-game winning streak has given them something they haven’t had in a long time — breathing room in first place.
Rome (27-14) now has a five- game lead for first place in the Southern Division of the South Atlantic league.
“There is still a lot of time left and we just have to keep it going,” said Ingle. “We’re just going to, like the old cliché, play one game at a time and try and add to it each night.”
Hefflinger echoed the words of Ingle, and knows that breathing room doesn’t mean much if you start letting up.
“We’re not going to let up no matter how many games we’re up,” said Hefflinger.