NEW YORK – Ender Inciarte got his 200th hit of the season Tuesday night when he doubled on the third pitch of the Braves’ 4-3 loss against the Mets at CitiField.
The All-Star center fielder became just the fourth Brave to get at least 200 hits in a season since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966, and the first to do it 21 seasons since Marquis Grissom had 207 in 1996.
“I’m proud of what I accomplished,” said Inciarte, a Gold Glove winner last season who doesn’t like talking about himself, but obliged the media late Tuesday and acknowledged the franchise rarity of a 200-hit season.
“I know,” he said. “Everybody was talking about it. I tried not to think about it but everybody was asking, how many more, how many more? But I did it and hopefully I’m going to finish strong.”
The Braves have five more games including a series finale Wednesday against the Mets and four-game series at Miami starting Thursday.
Inciarte got his 200th hit and also made a run-saving spectacular diving catch in the eighth inning at the same ballpark where he made his famous “Game Ender” catch a year ago when he scaled the wall to rob Yoenis Cespedes of a would-be walk-off homer for the final out in a Braves win.
“Every time I come here something special happens,” he said. “I made that catch last year and now I come and play good defense tonight, got my 200th hit. So I’m starting to see this ballpark as a special home for me.”
The other Braves with 200-hit seasons in the Atlanta era were Ralph Garr, who did it three times in a four-year span (1971, 1973, 1974) and Felipe Alou, who did it in 1966 and 1968. Garr holds the franchise record with 219 hits in 1971, followed by Alou’s 218 hits in 1966.
“That was great,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the 200th hit to start Tuesday’s game. “Everybody on the club is happy for him. That’s a great accomplishment. In order to get that you have to play a lot of games, have a lot of at-bats and have a lot of success, because it just doesn’t happen all the time.”
Inciarte, in his fourth major league season and second with the Braves, began the day tied with his pal, Astros star Jose Altuve, for second in the major leagues in hits this season, trailing only the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon, who played at North Gwinnett High School, Georgia Tech and Young Harris College.
“ I had Altuve talking to me in the (World Baseball Classic) saying, ‘Two Venezuelans haven’t done it in one year, so we’ve got to do it,’” Inciarte said. “I’m happy for what we’ve accomplished.”
Before his leadoff double against Rafael Montero in the first inning, Inciarte had been tied for seventh on the Atlanta single-season hits list with Terry Pendleton, who had 199 hits in 1992, and Andruw Jones, who had 199 in 2000.
The last time a Braves player finished in the NL’s top two in hits for a season was Pendleton in 1992, when he tied for the league lead.
Inciarte started slow but heated up in the last days of April and has pretty much stayed warm to sizzling the rest of the season, batting .321 with a .367 on-base percentage in his past 133 games.
He’s played in 153 of the Braves’ 157 games, after playing 132 games last season and 131 with Arizona in 2015 due to stints on the disabled list each season.
“That’s a good mentality to have -- come here to play, play hard and expect to get two or three hits every day,” he said. “That’s hard to do, especially with such a long season. But I’m proud of what I did and hopefully I’m going to be able to do it again.
“A big part for me was staying consistent and healthy. The last two years I got hurt with both of my hamstrings. Now staying healthy I can see is a really big part of what I can do.”
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