“It’s time to go long right now, it’s time to go deep,” Braves rookie second baseman Ozzie Albies told a teammate in the dugout before leading off the 11th inning. Yes, okay, we never hear about the times a player calls his shot and then pops out weakly to short or whatever. That still only makes instances like these marginally less cool.
Albies, obviously determined to go home after an 80-minute rain delay and extra innings, golfed a first-pitch over the wall in right-center to give the Braves the 5-4 win and snap the Reds’ seven-game winning streak.
It’s Albies’s first career walk-off, but almost certainly not his last. The 21-year-old now has 17 homers, one behind Nolan Arenado and two back of Bryce Harper for the NL lead. And six of his 17 homers have come on the first pitch.
Entering Monday’s game, Albies was swinging on the first pitch 45.6 percent of the time, fourth in baseball.
“He hasn’t seen a pitch yet that he doesn’t like, but he’s on the attack,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s an aggressive hitter, that’s what makes him what he is. He’s having a heck of a year.”
He is indeed. The big little Curacao native (5-foot-7 and all muscle) is leading the league in extra-base hits and has only extended his voting lead to start at second in the All-Star Game. A red-hot start led to a relative hitting slump in May and June, but he appears to be fully back—hitting .455 in his last seven games. Albies is a big part of the Braves’ resurgence. With their win and a Phillies loss on Monday, Atlanta’s lead in the NL East is 3.5 games.