PHILADELPHIA – Brian Snitker’s story is as good as any in sports.
It just got better.
He collected the 500th win of his career when the Braves defeated the Phillies, 6-3, on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Here are five observations on Atlanta, which is 59-40:
1. The Braves surprised Snitker with a postgame champagne toast in the clubhouse.
“I’m honored,” Snitker said. “I’m blessed.”
What’s his best attribute as a manager?
“I think he just really allows guys to be themselves,” Dansby Swanson said. “There’s definitely like standards in this organization that we all feel like we need to uphold and everything like that, but he definitely kind of creates that box that you can play in and allows you to just be you. He makes everything about winning just like you do.”
Added Spencer Strider: “Just his calmness and the confidence he exudes as a result. Early on, we were sort of scuffling, there was never any panic. You know that he’s at the helm and he’s confident, and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be as well.”
The 66-year-old Snitker is the fifth manager in Braves history to reach 500 victories. Three of the other four – Bobby Cox, Frank Selee and Bill McKechnie – are in the Hall of Fame. Snitker is the 138th manager in MLB history to reach the feat.
2. Strider said he and Austin Riley have had many conversations about what would occur if Strider faced Riley.
“We’re on the same page as to who would have the upper hand,” Strider said with a smile.
Hint: It’s the guy who leads the majors with 56 extra-base hits and is tied for third with 28 home runs.
“His presence in the box at this point – with every hit, with every at-bat, he gets more dangerous and you can see it in the way guys approach him,” Strider said. “You try and get ahead but you’re challenging him, so you’re risking yourself there. And then you try to be careful, but you fall behind and now you’re in trouble. It just seems like there’s no good way to go at him, and he’s just rolling.”
Riley doubled twice on Tuesday. The first scored a run. His 18-game hitting streak is the longest active streak in the majors.
3. Asked after the game what he wanted to accomplish during it, Strider said: “Just attacking, filling up the zone and trying to get three outs as quick as possible each inning.”
Check, check and check.
Strider tossed six innings of one-run baseball, the lone run being Kyle Schwarber’s sixth-inning solo homer. The rookie retired 14 of his first 15 batters. He struck out six, walked one and threw 90 pitches.
Will Smith allowed a two-run homer in the ninth, but Kenley Jansen closed the door.
4. A night after not doing much, the Braves’ offense ensured there would be no wild finish to this game. The lineup scored five runs off Aaron Nola over seven innings.
“I feel like we just put up consistent at-bats,” Swanson said. “He’s obviously a really, really good pitcher, and I feel like we were able to put some tough pitches in play for some base hits. The biggest thing is when he makes mistakes – which is very few and far between – we were able to capitalize on those tonight.”
Michael Harris homered in the third inning and Matt Olson blasted a two-run shot in the fifth. The latter gave the Braves a five-run lead.
Another good sign: Eddie Rosario, who has struggled at the plate, dumped an RBI single into right field in the fourth.
And then there was Riley, who provided his usual pop.
5. Tuesday’s win means the Braves are still the only team in the majors to not have a three-game losing streak at any point this season.
“Don’t be putting that bad juju in there,” Swanson said.
“I don’t even realize that until you guys bring it up all the time,” Snitker said. “It’s not something I worry about or whatever. That’s good. That shows you can put a defeat behind you and still come out and play a really good ballgame, when you get down to it.”
The Braves’ run marks the deepest a club has gone into a season without a three-game skid since the 2009 Dodgers didn’t lose three in a row until games No. 98-100.
Stat to know
22 - Snitker’s 22 postseason victories are tied for No. 26 in MLB history. Among managers with at least 15 postseason games under their belt, his .595 winning percentage in the playoffs ranks 11th all time.
“I’m proud to be here, and to have done it all here, too, with the Braves. This is my home.” - Snitker on reaching 500 wins
The teams close the series with Wednesday’s finale at 12:35 p.m. Atlanta’s Charlie Morton will face Philadelphia’s Kyle Gibson.