Austin Riley hits two 450 foot homers in Atlanta MLBcom

Austin Riley hits two 450-foot homers in Atlanta –

ATLANTA — Austin Riley has been heating up in recent days, then exploded at a thunderous pace on Thursday night as the Braves clinched an 8-5 win over the Phillies at Truist Park.

Riley stole the limelight with two monstrous home runs, but a string of Braves added to the crucial three-run eighth. Marcell Ozuna, who hit a home run in the second inning, doubled before hitting with Travis d’Arnaud’s green two-run single. d’Arnaud’s role was reduced as Ozuna had the most starts while DH and Sean Murphy handled much of the catching duties.

But d’Arnaud continued to add value as he fought for Michael Harris II in that crucial eighth-inning situation.

“I love Travvy,” Riley said. “He’s unique, just a teammate.”

As the Braves celebrated their second straight win, they could watch as Riley returned to the form he’d shown in winning the National League’s top 10 MVP awards the past two seasons. The veteran third baseman posted a .948 OPS in his first 17 games and then built up a .548 OPS in the following 22 games.

This month-long slump has been pushed into the background. Riley has averaged .349 with an OPS of 1.047 in the 11 games since.

“He’s been a big part of this team since I’ve been here [in 2020]’ said d’Arnaud. “To see him turn things around after the little struggle he had is of great importance for us going forward.”

Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. has hit the second-most home runs over 450 feet since his 2018 rookie season. But he’s never done what Riley did Thursday, when he hit a 459-foot home run before Aaron hit Nola in the first inning and then damaged the Phillies veteran with a 458-foot solo shot in the fifth inning.

“It shows how strong he is,” d’Arnaud said. “It’s incredible to do it twice in one game. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my entire career.”

d’Arnaud actually has two such homers, one he hit against David Price in 2019 and another against Max Scherzer in 2017. But hitting two homers that distance in a game is pretty rare.

In fact, Riley is only the third player to hit two 455-foot home runs in a game since Statcast began collecting this data in 2015. The others were Trevor Story from the Rockies (September 5, 2018) and Willson from the Cubs Contreras (September 13, 2019). Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon (May 12, 2019) is the only other player to hit two homers over 450 feet in a game. Blackmon and Story both did so at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

These were the third and fourth longest home runs Riley ever hit. On April 3, in St. Louis, he hit a 473-foot home run that lasted his entire career.

“The biggest mistake was my attitude over the plate,” Riley said. “That has been cleaned up. It’s baseball. This game has its ups and downs. It’s about working every day and just trying to be the best version of yourself.”

Riley’s first two homer game of the year and fifth of his career made for a very productive week. He’s hit four doubles and two homers in his last four games (14 at-bats).

So this certainly wasn’t a good time for Nola to come to town. Riley now has 20 of 45 with five homers against the Phillies hurler.

“He’s a good hitter,” Nola said. “He doesn’t miss too many balls that I throw over the plate.”