Riley socks the Sox with 30th homer, 5 RBIs

Braves gain steam with extra-innings win following tough series in NY

August 10th, 2022

BOSTON -- As an “MVP” chant broke out at Fenway Park in the 11th inning of Tuesday’s series opener, Austin Riley put an end to the back-and-forth game with one swing of the bat.

Riley capped his 3-for-6, five-RBI night with a two-run single to give the Braves the lead for good, snapping their three-game losing streak with a 9-7 win over the Red Sox. The third baseman finished a double shy of the cycle after he opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI triple, then swatted his 30th home run of the season in the third inning.

Riley’s homer gave the Braves a 3-2 lead and tied Hank Aaron’s franchise record, as he became the fastest player to reach 30 home runs and 30 doubles in a season. Both Riley and Aaron (1959) reached the milestone in the 111th game of the season.

“I think my plan was good tonight,” said Riley, who signed a 10-year, $212 million extension on Aug. 1. “Thought I put some good ABs [together] against [starter Rich] Hill. And like I said, I was able to get the ball over the plate and capitalize.”

Automatic runner Michael Harris II scored easily on Riley’s 11th-inning hit, and the speedy Ronald Acuña Jr. -- who singled and stole second to open the inning -- gave the Braves an insurance run with a gutsy headfirst slide at home. Acuña went 3-for-5 with a walk and scored three of Atlanta’s nine runs.

“My mentality is, if I get on base, I'm scoring,” Acuña said through interpreter Franco García. “Regardless or independently of what kind of hit it is -- if it's a line drive, a bloop, whatever -- my mindset is I'm scoring if the ball’s in play.”

The win comes on the heels of a disappointing trip to Flushing, where the Braves dropped four of five to the first-place Mets. Ahead of the series opener in Boston, manager Brian Snitker noted that the series in New York was in the past, it was a new day and the team was focused on moving forward because “it’s what we do.”

With six lead changes over 11 innings, Tuesday represented a microcosm of the Braves’ up-and-down 2022 in the standings. They’ve been as far as 10 1/2 games back from the Mets and as close as 1 1/2 games as recently as July 24. It’s been a season of constant battling for the defending World Series champions.

“It just shows you like we talked about, the resilience.” Snitker said, “and how these guys take it a day at a time and the whole thing. And it was just good to keep battling back tonight. When you're struggling and you're kind of looking for a win, it's never easy. There's not going to be just something that's going to be smooth. But they kept battling tonight, kept coming back and that's a good ballgame to win.”

The resilience was tested once again in the top of the 10th inning. An inning before Riley delivered the game-winning hit, Orlando Arcia drove in automatic runner Eddie Rosario to give the Braves a 7-6 lead before leaving the game with a left hamstring injury. Arcia, who became an everyday player when Ozzie Albies landed on the IL on June 13, was in noticeable pain after he rounded first and attempted to take second, where he was thrown out as he hobbled on his left leg past the bag. Arcia was helped off the field by the trainers and was replaced by Ehire Adrianza at second in the bottom of the 10th. Snitker said Arcia will require an IL stint.

Following this two-game series in Boston, the Braves (65-46) head to Miami for four games against the Marlins before a four-game rematch with the Mets in Atlanta. With a win under its belt, Atlanta hopes Tuesday represents a change in the tide as it looks to keep the division dream alive.

“What happened in New York's in the past,” Acuña said. “We have lots of series in front of us. Just hoping to win them, [and] we won the first [game] today.”