15 Jun

turning point?

Fingers are crossed in Braves Nation. “Getting Austin (Riley) involved is huge for us,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told The Associated Press after Friday’s 7-3 win over Tampa Bay. “I’ve been obviously working hard to get it right. To see some results is nice,” former DeSoto Central High standout Riley said after his 3-for-4, three-RBI night. Braves fans are knocking on wood. Did anyone need a big game more than Riley? He entered Friday’s contest in a 1-for-19 skid. He was hitting .185 with no homers and two RBIs over his previous 15 games, which followed a two-week stint on the bench with a side injury. Some critics were already calling it a “lost season.” On Friday, he had an RBI double in the first inning and the next inning blasted a 422-foot home run, his fourth of the year but first since May 3. He boosted his average to .230. This is a guy who hit .281 with 37 homers and 97 RBIs, won a Silver Slugger at third base and was an All-Star for the second time in 2023. The wobbling, injury-plagued Braves (37-30) need his production. Plus, he’s the kind of guy you root for. No bat flips, no showboating. No smack talk, no whining. He just shows up and plays hard, like a modern-day Dale Murphy. The loss of Michael Harris II to the injured list Friday with a hamstring injury makes a return to form by Riley even more vital for the Braves in the coming weeks. P.S. Is Tim Anderson finally escaping his season-long funk? The ex-East Central Community College star had a three-hit game for Miami on Friday and now has nine hits over his last four games. He has lifted his average to .221, though he still hasn’t homered and has just seven RBIs in 52 games for the lowly Marlins (23-46). With the Chicago White Sox, Anderson won a batting title in 2019, a Silver Slugger at shortstop in 2020 and was an All-Star in 2021 and ’22. Marlins fans have not seen that player.

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