ATLANTA -- On the way to winning the National League East last year, the Braves produced a 14-game winning streak that was aided by the decision to move Jason Heyward to the leadoff spot. A little more than a year later, they found themselves mired in an offensive funk that had led to them winning just twice over the past two weeks entering Wednesday night.
So in an attempt to rekindle some of last year's magic, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to put Jason Heyward back in the leadoff spot. Although it is too soon to tell if this move will provide a similar spark, Heyward's role in Wednesday night's 3-2 victory against the Dodgers is a sign of encouragement.
Heyward finished 1-for-4, using that one hit to set up the Braves' fifth-inning rally. He reached base on a one-out single against Hyun-Jin Ryu, advanced to second when Ryu plunked Freddie Freeman with a pitch and then showed off his speed by scoring from second on a Justin Upton single to plate the winning run.
There has been some reason to wonder if Gonzalez might eventually platoon Heyward and Emilio Bonifacio in the leadoff role, but the skipper showed he is not interested in that arrangement when he put Heyward in the first spot of his lineup for Wednesday night's matchup against Ryu.
The Braves entered this contest having lost 11 of their previous 13 games, a span burdened by an offense that had scored two runs or less in 13 of their previous 24 games.
"[Heyward] might add a spark or some energy up there and get us going a little bit," Gonzalez said. "I talked to Jason about it yesterday afternoon and he was great. He's a pro. He'll do whatever it takes for us to win. He brings it every night."