Sluggin’ Braves keep rolling with another win in Arizona

PHOENIX – For the second straight night, the Braves jumped on the Diamondbacks early and rolled to a win. Their 9-2 victory Wednesday was their third in a row over Arizona, positioning them to potentially sweep the four-game series in the desert on Thursday afternoon.

Here are five takeaways from Wednesday:

1. Second baseman Ozzie Albies hit his 30th home run in the fifth inning, achieving his first 30-homer season one day after third baseman Austin Riley did the same. Albies had three RBIs, also giving him his first 100-RBI season.

“All my hard work is paying off now,” Albies said. “I do it for the team so we can score runs and win games. I’m happy with it. The 30 homers was a goal because I had two 24-homer seasons and wanted to break that. At least 25. I wanted to go 30, that was the goal.”

Albies is the third Braves second baseman to hit 30 home runs in a season, joining Davey Johnson (43 in 1973) and Dan Uggla (36 in 2011). Albies is the first primary middle infielder in franchise history to collect 100 RBIs in a campaign.

“I got a hug from (first baseman) Freddie (Freeman) saying, ‘Hey, that’s special,’” Albies said. “So now I know how it feels and it feels great.”

Albies’ 90 career home runs are already the most for a Braves second baseman.

Manager Brian Snitker on Albies’ season: “What an accomplishment. In the storied history of the Atlanta Braves, to be the first guy to do that is pretty cool. That’s really neat. He’s just a little fella, you know? I’m happy for Oz. ... Ozzie is that boring pro, just the same thing every day. I never see that guy have a bad day. His attitude, it’s off the charts. It’s unbelievable. He’s such a cool young man.”

2. The first inning featured one of the most confusing plays one will see. Outfielder Adam Duvall launched what would’ve been a three-run homer, with the ball grazing Diamondbacks center fielder Jake McCarthy’s glove as it landed just over the wall.

The umpires didn’t signal it was a home run. Duvall had just made it past first base, and a confused Riley began retreating to first. The players crossed paths, resulting in Duvall being out. After a few minutes of confusion amongst everybody involved, the play was a ruled a two-RBI single for Duvall.

Duvall didn’t get his 38th homer, but he added to his league lead in RBIs, bringing his total to 109. His night became even odder when he nearly doubled on a ball hit off the left-field wall. He was thrown out at second, a questionable call that was upheld upon review. In total, Duvall had two singles worth 786 feet.

“He was safe,” Snitker said. “I’m sitting there looking on the field and it looked like the umpire was looking at it. I’m thinking, ‘We don’t need (the review from) New York.’ He was clearly safe. I guess he wasn’t safe enough.”

3. Riley made sure there wasn’t any cross up after his next at-bat. The third baseman smashed his 31st homer of the season in the third inning to expand the Braves’ lead to 4-1. Riley has 95 RBIs, the fourth-highest total in the National League but third on his own team behind Duvall and Albies.

After a quiet start to the month, Riley looks like an MVP candidate again. He hit .200/.283/.350 across the first 11 games of September. He has an eight-game hitting streak since, hitting over .350 in that stretch while adding two homers, four doubles and six RBIs.

Riley has an extra-base hit in four consecutive games after going six straight without one. He doubled Sunday, doubled three times Monday and homered Tuesday and Wednesday.

4. Braves starter Ian Anderson, working with plenty of early run support, allowed one run on two hits in seven innings. It was the deepest he’s pitched into a game in five starts since returning from the injured list.

Particularly encouraging was Anderson’s eight strikeouts. The right-hander failed to record a strikeout in his first two starts back from a lengthy stint on the injured list. He’s fanned 24 over his last three outings while walking just five, including only one Wednesday.

“That’s a good sign,” Anderson said of the strikeouts. “That’s the way I pitch, so when they weren’t coming, it wears on you a little bit. You start thinking about it. I think it’s been good to get back into the swing of things. It was my first time going through an injury like that (shoulder inflammation), so you’re never quite sure how you’ll be coming back. I’m very happy with where I am right now. If I can be the guy I was tonight going forward, down the stretch, I think things will be good.”

5. The Braves’ magic number to win the NL East dropped to nine with their victory. The second-place Phillies kept pace with a 4-3 win over the Orioles, remaining three games back.

Stat to know

24 years, 258 days (Albies became the youngest second baseman in MLB history to record a 30-homer, 100-RBI season.)


Freeman hit his 31st homer in the ninth. It was his first home run since Sept. 12. Freeman is tied with Riley for the team lead in homers. He also had two doubles Wednesday.

Up next

A pair of veterans known for their postseason success face off in the series finale Thursday afternoon. Braves right-hander Charlie Morton (13-6, 3.49) opposes Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner (7-10, 4.56).