WASHINGTON – Ender Inciarte’s pursuit of a 200-hit season was interrupted when the center fielder was out of the lineup Wednesday night against the Nationals after jamming his left thumb diving to first base trying to avoid a tag in the sixth inning Tuesday.
He stayed in that game and doubled in his final at-bat in the eighth inning, finishing 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk in the 8-0 series-opening win, raising Inciarte’s total to 187 hits with 19 games to play before Wednesday, including 47 hits in his past 30 games.
“I asked him if he was OK and he said, ‘Let me try it,’” Braves manager Brian Snitker said, recalling his Tuesday night conversation with Inciarte before his turn to bat in the eighth. “So he was in the on-deck circle and I said, what do you think? And he said, ‘No, let me try the at-bat,’ and then he hit a double. So I said, I guess you’re ok.
“But today it’s sore, after an overnight. I don’t think it bled (swelled) or anything like that. Just sore. But hoping, like I say, with the treatment and everything he’ll be good tomorrow.”
There have been only six 200-hit seasons by Braves since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 and none since Marquis Grissom had 207 in 1996. Inciarte has picked up his pace again as the season has wore on, batting .362 (47-for-130) in his past 30 games through Tuesday with three triples, three home runs and a .908 OPS in that span.
Ralph Garr holds the Atlanta-era single-season franchise record with 219 hits in 1971. Inciarte was on pace through Tuesday to finish the season with 212 hits.
Snitker said the Gold Glove winner tested the thumb by trying to swing a bat after arriving at Nationals Park on Wednesday.
“He couldn’t really amp it up very good, so we’re going to give him a day and hopefully (he’ll be ready Thursday),” Snitker said. “They’ll treat him all day and all night. It’s amazing how good and how quick they can get guys turned back around, so we’ll just revisit it tomorrow.”
The Braves finish a three-game series at Washington on Thursday and begin their final nine-game homestand on Friday with the opener of a three-game series against the Mets at SunTrust Park.