MLB LOOK AHEAD

Braves phenom Riley looks to do it again vs. Cards

Field Level Media

May 16, 2019 at 7:20 am.

May 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Austin Riley (27) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at SunTrust Park. Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

May 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves left fielder Austin Riley (27) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at SunTrust Park. Photo Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The excitement surrounding of the arrival of Atlanta rookie Austin Riley is expected to carry over onto the final game of the Braves’ three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday.

Riley, a 22-year-old slugger ranked as the team’s top position-player prospect, hit a 438-foot homer Wednesday against St. Louis starter Michael Wacha in his second major league at-bat. Riley was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday morning when outfielder Ender Inciarte was placed on the injured list due to a lumbar strain.

Even though Riley is a third baseman by trade, he will spend most of his time in left field. Atlanta signed free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson in the offseason.

Riley had been one of the hottest hitters in the minor leagues, striking for 15 home runs this season and 10 over the last 13 games in May.

“I don’t expect him to go out there and win a Gold Glove in left field,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told reporters. “We’ll deepen him up enough to where maybe the angles aren’t that big of a deal. He’s kind of what they used to look like. He’s probably better defensively than most.”

Thursday’s pitching matchup features St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright (3-3, 4.15 ERA) against right-hander Julio Teheran (2-4, 4.26). The teams split the first two games of the series.

Wainwright, often bemoaned by Atlanta fans as the one who got away, returns to his home state to start the final game of the series.

Wainwright grew up in Brunswick, about five hours away from Atlanta on the Atlantic Coast. He grew up a Braves fan and was the team’s No. 1 draft choice in 2000. Despite being the team’s top pitching prospect, Atlanta traded him to the Cardinals for J.D. Drew, who was gone after one season. Wainwright went on to be a three-time All-Star, lead the league in wins twice, and help the Cardinals win the 2006 World Series.

Wainwright is coming off one of his best starts of the season. He allowed one run over seven innings struck out eight, one shy of his season high, against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Friday but received no-decision in a game the Cardinals eventually lost. He had not completed seven innings since April 11, 2018.

“Last year it was how do I survive? How do I find a way to get through five (innings) for this team?” Wainwright said. “This year my attitude is back to making pitches, executing pitches and seeing how far you can go. When I’m at my best, my whole career, when I was healthy, was the team knew that I was going at least seven. They knew it. The bullpen had a day off. I’m not changing my expectations.”

Teheran has been good in his past two starts. He threw six scoreless innings against the Marlins on May 5 and allowed one run in six innings against the Diamondbacks last Friday, both games on the road.

Teheran will be making his seventh career start against St. Louis. He is 2-3 with a 3.18 against the Cardinals and beat them 5-1 the last time he faced them, on June 29, 2018.

Wainwright is 9-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 18 career games (13 starts) against the Braves, but he hasn’t opposed them since August 2017.