30 Sep

eye on …

Austin Riley, the former DeSoto Central High star, has had a big year for Atlanta, but the MVP chatter surrounding the third baseman has diminished lately. He has a chance to revive it this weekend in the series that’s been circled on a lot of calendars seemingly for months. Just in case you’ve been living under a rock all summer, the New York Mets visit Truist Park for a three-game set that could decide the National League East title. The Braves are down a game in the standings. One of Riley’s main rivals for MVP is the Mets’ Pete Alonso, so that’s a subplot worth watching. Riley is batting .275 with 37 home runs and 92 RBIs. But over his last 15 games, he has hit just .200 with one homer and two RBIs. The Braves need better production this weekend. For the record, Riley is batting .294 with two homers and five RBIs career against Jacob deGrom, New York’s starter in tonight’s opener. … There will also be a spotlight on several other former Mississippi Braves. The immensely talented Ronald Acuna (.275, 15 homers, 28 steals) has hit just .214 in his last seven games. Michael Harris II, the likely NL rookie of the year, is batting .305 with 19 homers, 64 RBIs and 20 bags — but is at .267 with one homer in his last seven. And then there are the starting pitchers in three dream matchups. Max Fried (13-7, 2.50 ERA) faces deGrom tonight, followed by Kyle Wright (20-5, 3.18) against Max Scherzer on Saturday and Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) vs. Chris Bassitt on Sunday. The managerial matchup is also pretty sweet: Former M-Braves skipper Brian Snitker rolling the dice against ex-Mississippi State star Buck Showalter. P.S. The M-Braves, Atlanta’s Double-A club, will play an exhibition game against Jackson State next April 5 at Smith-Wills Stadium, it was announced on Thursday. Proceeds from the Hank Aaron Tribute Game reportedly will go to a fund to improve facilities at Jackson parks and schools. Smith-Wills was the longtime home of Jackson’s Double-A Texas League teams, the Mets and Generals, and now hosts the Hank Aaron Sports Academy. The Generals, a Houston affiliate, played JSU in an exhibition game at Smith-Wills in 1991.

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