15 Oct

now or never

When the Atlanta Braves turned their season around in early June, winning 14 straight games, Austin Riley was a major contributor. The former DeSoto Central High standout batted .271 (16-for-59) with six home runs, 14 RBIs and 13 runs. When the Braves essentially clinched the National League East by sweeping the New York Mets Sept. 30-Oct. 2, Riley chipped in with big hits, going 4-for-11 with a homer and three runs, one in each game. If the Braves are to rally past Philadelphia and win their National League Division Series, they need some Riley. It’s not all on his shoulders, of course, but the big third baseman has been the aircraft carrier most of this season, blasting 38 homers and driving in 93 runs. In the three games against the Phillies, Riley is 1-for-12 with four strikeouts. His lone hit and RBI came in the Game 2 win. He has stranded nine baserunners in this series. Yes, the Braves need a great outing from Charlie Morton today and more offense from Dansby Swanson and Michael Harris II, but Riley looms as the key to their fortunes. It’s now or never for the defending champs in 2022. They need some Riley. As he told mlb.com after the crushing Game 3 loss on Friday, “(we’ll) see what we’re made of.”

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