Riley is heating up. The Braves’ third baseman cranked a two-run homer to left center for No. 30 on the season. Riley doubled Sunday, doubled three times Monday and then homered Tuesday. After a quiet start to September, he’s catching fire again to finish his breakout campaign with a bang.
“That’s pretty cool to say (that I’m a 30-homer hitter), no doubt” Riley said. “After last season and the way 2019 ended, you have your doubts and stuff. But to be able to put together a pretty good season so far, it’s special. We have other things on our mind - winning ballgames, trying to make this run deep - but other than that, it was cool.”
Riley hasn’t allowed himself to think about the National League MVP race, but a strong finish would only further strengthen his candidacy. “I don’t (look at that) at all. I just come here every day and put in the work. Whatever happens happens. I’m thankful that we’re getting that momentum back to where we need to be and we’re winning ballgames. That’s my main focus.”
2. Second baseman Ozzie Albies added a two-run shot in the third. With the two home runs Tuesday, the Braves’ infield draws closer to history. Albies needs one more homer and slumping shortstop Dansby Swanson needs four more for the Braves’ infield to become the first in MLB history in which each starting member hit 30 home runs.
3. The Braves’ bullpen game was an unconventional success. Reliever Jesse Chavez started and issued two walks while recording the first four outs. Lefty Drew Smyly followed, allowing one run over 3-1/3 innings. Smyly was effective in the outing, although his fastball velocity remained down at 91.5 mph. Jacob Webb, Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson and A.J. Minter kept the Diamondbacks scoreless over the final 4-1/3 innings.
“They all did a great job,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Jesse, he’s done it before (be an opener) with us. Drew threw the ball extremely well. Really good. That was huge that he could extend the game like he did and get us to that point. Jacob Webb has been pitching big innings for us for a while now. He’s just been really, really solid. They bridged the game to the guys we wanted to get the game to.”
4. Among the most underappreciated stories on the Braves is Webb. The right-hander fell apart in mid-May, when he hit Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar with a pitch in the face in a gruesome scene, then allowed runs in his next two outings, leading to a demotion.
Webb pitched only four times from June through August. He rejoined the club when rosters expanded Sept. 1, and he’s since been a linchpin in the bullpen. He pitched 1-1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday. Webb, 28, hasn’t allowed a run in 10 appearances this month and has a 13-game scoreless streak dating back to June 18. His re-emergence has further fortified a solid bullpen.
5. The Braves’ magic number dropped to 10 with the win. The Phillies defeated the Orioles 3-2 in 10 innings, keeping them three games back in the National League East.
“I saw the Phillies snuck one in there tonight,” Riley said. “We just have to continue to come out and take care of business (Wednesday).”
Stat to know
30 (Riley achieved his first career 30-homer season.)
“It’s something pretty special. From where he started and what he’s been through, I feel like he has one more he wants to get: that 100 (RBIs). I’m really proud of him. You love that kid, to see how he’s hung in there and gave himself a chance. Look at the year he’s had. It’s really, really good. Big time.” - Snitker on Riley
Outfielder Adam Duvall’s career-best 16-game hitting streak ended Tuesday when he went 0-for-4. Duvall hit .281/.313/.734 over the run. Eight of his 18 hits over that time were home runs.
Swanson has two hits
Swanson was hitting .109 in September entering Tuesday. He had his second multi-hit game this month, topped with an RBI single in the ninth. It was Swanson’s third multi-hit game since Aug. 18.
“It was really good to see,” Snitker said.
Ian Anderson (7-5, 3.75) will start against Diamondbacks righty Merrill Kelly (7-10, 4.41) in the third game of the series Wednesday.