Dansby homer helps Braves inch closer to Mets

Reigning World Series champs now just half a game back in division

September 14th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the game on the line, who would you want at the plate in a critical situation? For Braves manager Brian Snitker, it's an easy answer: .

"In big spots like that, in those situations, I wouldn't want anybody else up there," Snitker said. "He has a penchant for coming through in those situations, and he's putting together another really solid year, too."

That solid year continued in the Braves' 5-1 win over the Giants on Tuesday night, as Swanson crushed a go-ahead home run and drove in three to help snap Atlanta's season-high three-game losing streak. With the Mets' second straight loss to the Cubs, the Braves jumped up to half a game back of their division rivals with 20 games remaining in the regular season.

Swanson, who drove in both of Atlanta's runs on Monday, again came through in a critical moment, delivering the Braves their first lead of the series with a two-run homer to left field in the third inning. It was Swanson's 20th home run of the 2022 campaign, giving him back-to-back seasons with at least 20 round-trippers for the first time in his career.

The 28-year-old shortstop also provided some insurance with an RBI knock in the top of the ninth inning. Swanson's 41 RBIs with two outs are tied for fourth-most in the Majors.

"I'm still trying to figure out why I can't do that when it's not two outs," Swanson quipped. "I don't even know how to explain that. I just feel like things get a lot slower, and I just breathe a little bit better and see things a little bit clearer. … I don't know, that's just kind of how I've always been, that's how God made me, and I'm here to embrace it."

Swanson is now one RBI away from tying his career high, which he set in 2021 with 88. That also happens to be the most RBIs by a Braves shortstop since 1900.

"There's really no number to evaluate a winner, but that's what he is," Braves starter said. "He gets the big hits when we need them, and that's what he did. He just makes plays and finds a way to get that extra run in there."

Wright picked up his MLB-leading 18th win of the season with 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The 26-year-old righty became the first Braves starter to reach 18 wins in a season since righty Russ Ortiz earned 21 in 2003. Wright has a real shot at joining the vaunted 20-win club in his first full season in the Majors, though he insisted that's not on his mind.

"I'm just worried about the next one," Wright said. "I think at times in this game today, I was thinking too far ahead of myself. I can only control the next pitch, so for me, I'm trying to keep that narrow focus."

Perhaps it's fitting that Swanson's game-winning shot backed Wright's gutsy effort, as the two of them shared a dugout at Vanderbilt in 2015.

"I mean, he's kind of like a little brother," Swanson said. "He's always been one of my favorites. I've always had a lot of belief in him, and for him to embrace that for himself is truly awesome. And it's obviously paid big dividends for our team here in Atlanta."

That chemistry is only a microcosm of what has been driving the reigning World Series champions through the 2022 campaign.

Though the Braves have put together an impressive season that will all but certainly end in another playoff berth, sitting in second place halfway through September was surely not in the master plan.

They have spent most of the season trailing the first-place Mets -- and were as far as 10 1/2 games behind them on June 1. But the Braves have stayed true to their process, and the division is now tantalizingly close.

Atlanta has kept its eyes on the prize, and it will continue to do so all the way down the stretch.

"No matter if you're going good or bad, putting emphasis on winning, it really is infectious for our team to have that mentality," Swanson said. "I think we've done such a good job of that this year. I feel like that leads to consistency because this game is going to have ups and downs; those are going to happen. But you can never have a lull in your mentality to want to win as a team."