On a night which saw Historically Black Colleges and Universities represented proudly at Truist Park, it was the Atlanta Braves that marched over the Houston Astros, winning 6-2 Friday.
Austin Riley hit a three run home run in the third inning off of Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. The homer was Riley’s 31st of the season. Ronald Acuña Jr and Dansby Swanson scored.
“Whenever a guy has a really good slider you know, I just tried to not really sit on it,” Riley explained. “But you look for one pitch and try and not miss it. And then there’s you know there’s good pitchers you can’t miss. When you do that’s when you dig yourself a hole. So it’s just a matter of hunting one pitch and like I said and not missing.”
Dansby Swanson went three-for-five with two RBIs. Swanson is currently batting .295 with an .809 OPS. Starting pitcher Kyle Wright, who was teammates with Swanson at Vanderbilt, was quick to let everyone know Dansby has the clutch gene.
“He’s kind of always been that guy,” said Wright. “You know, for me, one thing I always go back to is one of our regional games my freshman year. I think we were down and he hit a home run to give us a lead. And then at the time I was closer. I got to say that’s the kind of the guy that he is and I feel like he’s still coming up with those hits. Just when the game starts to speed up, he could slow it down. And I think that that speaks a lot to who he is as a player.”
Meanwhile, aggressive base running has been a staple for the Braves during this stretch that has seen them win ten out of their last eleven games. Rookie center fielder Michael Harris II and recent rookie call-up Vaughn Grissom have adopted the mantra set forth by Acuña Jr and starting second baseman Ozzie Albies: be aggressive and let it fly.
Thursday night, it was Grissom scoring from first that allowed the Braves to win against the Mets and tonight, it was Harris’s double that eventually led to him scoring on the Swanson double in the bottom of the sixth inning. Braves manager Brian Snitker credits the rookies’ intelligence on the base paths to their success.
“I think it’s amazing what you know, like the young guys when they come up,” Snitker said. “It’s playing like that with the energy and the hustle and never taking anything for granted. It does rub off on guys. I mean, it’s infectious when they do that. And then Michael comes out of the box, looking for two and the way he can run and fortunately make a play. It’s really good. It’s really good. I mean, the guys do feed off that.”
Houston left fielder Yordan Alvarez left the game and was taken to the hospital for shortness of breath. According to Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr., Alvarez was bothered by the in-game fireworks.
“I’m glad we got him out when we did because I looked up and he was in the dugout and it was kind of a scary moment because it could be anything,” Baker said. “But they said he’s doing fine at the moment.”
Kyle Wright picked up his 15th win of the season. McCullers Jr, who is working his way back from a strained right flexor tendon, picked up his first loss of the season. He missed the previous 119 games.
Saturday night, the Braves will trot out rookie pitcher Spencer Strider and the Astros will counter with Christian Javier.