Riley ties Braves record with homer in 5th straight game

July 23rd, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- You can always count on and the weather to become scorching hot near the end of July.

This month didn’t start well for Riley. But this week has been a special one for the All-Star third baseman, who matched a Braves franchise record when he homered in a fifth straight game on Saturday night at American Family Field. His third-inning blast wasn’t enough to avoid a 4-3 loss to the Brewers, but it did extend one of the best stretches of his young career.

“He’s just such a good player,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “How he handles the adversities and the ups and downs and everything, it just blows me away.”

Riley’s three-run homer off Brewers starter Adrian Houser was his sixth homer in a span of 17 at-bats going back to Tuesday’s fourth inning, making him the first Brave to accomplish that feat. He now stands as one of 10 Braves who have homered in five straight games.

This list of 10 players is headlined by Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Chipper Jones and Rogers Hornsby. It also includes Ronald Acuña Jr., Brian McCann, Ozzie Virgil, Jeff Burroughs, Joe Adock and Eddie Miller. 

Dale Long set the MLB record when he homered in eight straight games. Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey Jr. have since matched that record.

Riley joins Nolan Arenado, Christopher Morel and Jorge Soler as the only MLB players to homer in five straight games this season. 

More impressively, Riley is responsible for creating just the 24th five-game span during which a player has hit six-plus homers and driven in 17-plus runs. The two most recent players to do it were Trevor Story (2022) and Troy Tulowitzki (2010).   

“You just try to try to take it day by day and not try to get too high, because this game will humble you quickly,” Riley said. “I’ve learned that.”

This has been a decent year for Riley, who earned a second straight All-Star selection earlier this month. But he set the bar pretty high after earning top 10 finishes in National League MVP balloting the past two years.

Riley entered Monday’s off-day hitting .261 with 16 homers and .763 OPS. But what really bothered him was the fact that he had hit just .196 with one homer and a .528 OPS through his first 11 games in July (49 plate appearances).

So, he decided it was time to stop worrying and overanalyzing things.

“I told myself to have fun, relax and try to slow the game down as much as possible,” Riley said. “Hopefully, that’s going to allow me to keep this thing going.”

Struggling around this time of year certainly wasn’t normal for Riley. He produced a 1.082 OPS in July 2021 and a 1.344 OPS in July 2022. While going 10-for-21 with a double, a triple and six homers over his past five games, he has raised his OPS in July from .528 to .971. 

And just like that, he created a chance to produce a four-digit OPS in July for a third straight season.

“[Riley] means a lot to our lineup when he’s not going like this, just with his presence and what he brings," Snitker said. "When he’s got it going like this, it’s pretty fun to watch. He’s always going to allow himself a chance to do that. He’s such a professional in what he does.”