Atlanta takes sole possession of first-place; M-Braves’ win streak ends at eight

Monday, August 16, 2021

-Clint Manry

Thanks to three-straight wins and an 8-2 record over their last ten, the Braves are now back on top in the NL East. And a lot of that is because of the play of shortstop Dansby Swanson, who once again finished with a multi-hit performance on Sunday. For the third consecutive game, Swanson went deep in yesterday’s win…

The last month in a half has been an incredible stretch for the 27-year-old Swanson. Since the start of July (a span of 39 games), the Braves shortstop is slashing .327/.369/.622 with 24 XBH (11 HR) and 36 RBI — good for a 154 wRC+. Swanson continues to play at the best level of his career, and there’s no signs of him slowing down anytime soon.

Staying in the Braves infield, third baseman Austin Riley was another big contributor in Sunday’s win over the Nats. Riley finished 3 for 5 with a home run and is also enjoying a career-best stretch of play since July 1. During that span, the 24-year-old has been even better than Swanson, totaling 22 XBH (12 HR) and a 164 wRC+. Riley’s fifth-inning homer yesterday came immediately after Freddie Freeman’s and was his 25th of the season, putting the Braves ahead by two.

Once again, the Atlanta bullpen came through after working with a slim lead. Following four innings by lefty starter Drew Smyly, five Braves relievers allowed two runs from four hits over five innings and struck out five. Over the last seven days, spanning 26.2 innings, the Atlanta bullpen has been solid overall, pitching to a 3.71 ERA to go with 11.8 strikeouts per nine.


Down on the farm, Gwinnett’s Nolan Kingham suffered through another rough start in a loss to the Durham Bulls. At this point it’s just getting out of hand for the 24-year-old righty, who now owns a 10.13 ERA in 29.1 Triple-A innings. After pitching really well with the M-Braves, Kingham has NOT finished one outing with the Stripers in which he’s allowed fewer than two runs. And to make matters worse, over his last three starts, Kingham has now surrendered 18 runs in 13 frames (12.46 ERA). He might need another stint in Double-A to figure things out again.

While Kingham continues to struggle in Triple-A, though, outfielder Travis Demeritte just keeps hitting as he homered yesterday for the 14th time in 2021…

The 26-year-old has been one of Gwinnett’s top hitters all year long, and heading into Monday’s off day Demeritte is hitting a solid .300 to go with a 1.057 OPS in 50 Triple-A games.

Both Cristian Pache and Drew Waters had the day off, and rehabbing outfielder Eddie Rosario finished hitless in four at-bats.


Mississippi’s winning streak died at eight-straight yesterday as they were routed by Biloxi. Prospect pitcher Freddy Tarnok didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday, and the M-Braves offense only managed six hits overall; however, that didn’t stop shortstop Braden Shewmake from absolutely pummeling a pitch in the first inning for his ninth home run of the season…

Shewmake has nearly dug himself out of that horrible hole from earlier this season. He’s still hitting only .238 for the year, but since June 17 he sports a .333 AVG with 19 XBH (6 HR) in 36 games with the M-Braves. Given how deep of a hole it was, if he’s able to finish 2021 with a .250-ish AVG and 10-15 homers, I’d call this campaign a success.


Rome completed a suspended game from August 14 on Sunday, scoring four runs in the final inning to beat Hickory. It was a team effort on offense as every batter in the R-Braves lineup – save for lead-off hitter Luke Waddell – finished with at least one base-hit. Third baseman Beau Philip and first baseman Brett Langhorne led the way with two RBI apiece, while both Michael Harris and Jesse Franklin each contributed with two hits.

Mitch Stallings was slated to start Sunday’s game, but a 1 hour and 30-minute rain delay spoiled his outing, giving way for Jared Shuster. The former top pick (Shuster) managed a strong three-inning start in his place.


Augusta’s pitching kept Kannapolis quiet yesterday, holding the Cannon Ballers to just three hits while striking out 11 overall in the win. On the offensive side, it was GreenJackets’ third baseman Braulio Vasquez who put the team out in front in the third inning with a two-run single…

Vasquez and center fielder Stephen Paolini both combined for three RBI, however, prospect infielder Vaughn Grissom led the way with two doubles and first baseman Cade Bunnell finished with two hits.

Chad Bryant got the start for Augusta, working four innings and allowing three runs from two hits. But it was the young sensation, righty Roddery Munoz, that earned the win. Munoz pitched three hitless frames and struck out three before giving way to two more relievers. It’s been an up and down year for the 21-year-old Munoz, but Sunday’s dominant appearance was his first since going on the IL at the end of last month – a month that featured a 4.76 ERA in 5.2 innings. Hopefully the kid can finish this season strong.


(62-56) ATLANTA BRAVES

W, 6-5 vs. Nationals

SP, D. Smyly – 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, BB, 4 K

SS, D. Swanson – 2 for 5, HR, 2 RBI

3B, A. Riley – 3 for 5, HR, RBI

1B, F. Freeman – 2 for 5, HR, RBI

CF/RF, J. Pederson – 2 for 4, 2B

(50-40) GWINNETT STRIPERS

L, 6-3 vs. Durham

SP, N. Kingham – (L), 5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HR

RF, T. Demerrite – 1 for 3, HR, RBI

LF, T. Gore – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI, R

(53-37) MISSISSIPPI BRAVES

L, 11-3 vs. Biloxi

SP, F. Tarnok – (L), 4 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

SS, B. Shewmake – 2 for 4, HR, 2 2B, 2 RBI

RF, T. Harris – 1 for 4, 2B, RBI, R

(40-49) ROME BRAVES

PPD vs. Hickory

W, 7-5 (F/7) vs. Hickory

SP, J. Shuster – 3 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 4 K, HR

DH, M. Harris – 2 for 3, RBI, 2 R

3B, B. Philip – 1 for 3, 2B, 2 RBI

C, C. Martinez – 2 for 4, 2B

1B, B. Langhorne – 1 for 2, 2 RBI

(40-50) AUGUSTA GREENJACKETS

W, 5-3 vs. Kannapolis

SP, C. Bryant – 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K, HR

RP, R. Munoz – (W), 3 IP, 3 K

2B, V. Grissom – 2 for 4, 2 2B, BB

3B, B. Vasquez – 1 for 3, 2 RBI, BB 1B, C. Bunnell – 2 for 4, R, BB

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