Ozzie Albies, Braves look for encore vs. Nationals

MLB

Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies continues to put together a historic season.

Albies had a home run and four RBIs on Tuesday in the team’s 8-5 win over Washington. That gives him 27 home runs and 93 RBI. Atlanta has never had a middle infielder drive in 100 runs, and he will have a chance for more Wednesday when the Braves (73-64) host the Nationals (57-81) in the middle game of a three-game series.

Albies has homered in four straight games since returning to the lineup after missing two games with a sore right knee. No Braves’ second baseman has homered in five straight since Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby did so in 1928. Albies has 87 career homers, the most by a Braves’ second baseman.

“He’s been nails since he’s been back,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said.

A switch-hitter, Albies turned around to bat right-handed against Washington right-hander Ryne Harper and hit what proved to be the game-winning two-run homer.

“He came up to me and asked if I thought it was OK for him to hit right-handed,” Snitker said. “I told him to do whatever he was comfortable with.”

Albies is part of an infield that became the second in major league history to have each member hit at least 25 homers. He joins third baseman Austin Riley (29), first baseman Freddie Freeman (28) and shortstop Dansby Swanson (26) to match the mark set by the 2008 Marlins.

Atlanta is 13-4 against the Nationals this season and will go against Washington left-hander Sean Nolin (0-2, 5.71) on Wednesday. The Braves will counter with right-hander Touki Toussaint (3-2, 4.19).

Nolin will be making his fifth start for the Nationals. In his most recent appearance last Friday against the New York Mets, Nolin allowed two runs in five innings and did not figure in the decision. Nolin has never faced the Braves.

“He’s got to make all his pitches count,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “And we talked to him about that. He’s got to use all four quadrants and attack the strike zone. When he falls behind, he gets hit, so he’s got to work ahead.”

Toussaint appears to have supplanted veteran Drew Smyly as the team’s fifth starter. Snitker said Tuesday night that Smyly, who has started 23 games, will be available out of the bullpen. Smyly had allowed seven homers in his two previous starts.

In Toussaint’s start last Thursday at Colorado, he was knocked out after three innings when he allowed five runs, four earned, on six hits.

Toussaint has made five appearances, one start, against Washington in his career, with a 9.58 ERA. He has not faced the Nationals this season.

Washington’s Juan Soto continues his hot hitting against Atlanta. He was 2-for-2 with two walks, a hit by pitch, a run scored and an RBI on Tuesday. He is hitting .353 (12-for-34) and has reached base safely in 29 of 52 plate appearances against the Braves in 2021.

First baseman Josh Bell was 0-for-4 on Tuesday, but has hit safely in 13 of his past 15 games. During that stretch he is hitting .321 (18-for-56) with three doubles, four homers, 10 RBI, 10 walks and six runs scored.

–Field Level Media

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