If any doubt remained over Jason Heyward's turnaround from his disastrous start, it must have been completely erased in Wednesday's series opener. The Atlanta Braves right fielder drove in three runs in a 4-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Heyward drove in three runs, including a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning off Tim Collins, the first homer he has given up to a left-handed batter since Sept. 2012. Heyward's bomb came on the third straight curveball Collins threw.
"I actually wasn't looking for [a third straight curve]," Heyward said on braves.com. "That whole at-bat, I wasn't necessarily looking for that pitch. But I was on time and didn't miss that one."
Heyward had already been busy backing up Kris Medlen in a three-run fifth inning the Braves assembled off Ervin Santana. Chris Johnson opened the inning with a double, was moved to third when Andrelton Simmons singled to left and scored on an RBI-double by Jordan Schafer to tie the game 1-1. Heyward then ripped a two-run double into the right field corner to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.
Entering the game, Santana gave up a total of three runs in his last 32 2/3 innings; the Braves showed their run-producing potential by doing that in one inning.
The three runs Heyward drove in were a season-high for him, and his .296 June batting average has brought his season average up from .146 to .216.
"Obviously, he started a little slow," Medlen said. "But he's a guy that has too good of tools to not hit well."
Medlen started out shaky by allowing an RBI-single to Billy Butler in the first inning, but he cruised through the remainder of his six innings until giving up a game-tying two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the fifth.
Heyward's homer also led to Craig Kimbrel acquiring one of his most eratic saves of the season. A walk and a single put Royals on the corners with nobody out and just a one-run lead. Kimbrel proceeded to strikeout Elliot Johnson and Jarrod Dyson. After throwing two wide pitches to Alex Gordon, Kimbrel intentionally walked him to set up Alcides Escobar's flyout to end the game.
For a Braves offense that struggled so harshly for about a week, every Atlanta starter reached base at least once and every batter got a hit except for Brian McCann.
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