Inciarte closing in on 200-hit season

Braves center fielder has 197 after three base knocks Sunday

Inciarte closing in on 200-hit season

ATLANTA -- On Sunday, Ender Inciarte inched closer to an impressive milestone. With his three hits in the Braves' 2-0 loss to the Phillies at SunTrust Park, Inciarte sits three shy of becoming the first Braves' player to reach 200 hits in more than two decades. Marquis Grissom was the last to notch 200 hits for Atlanta back in 1996.

Only Ralph Garr, Felipe Alou, and Grissom rank above him on the Braves' all-time single-season hit list. Garr holds the Braves' record with 219 and reached the 200 mark three times. Alou collected 200 hits twice, in 1966 and '68.

"He keeps getting his hits," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He is having good at-bats and is relaxed."

Inciarte has churned out the offense despite dealing with a left thumb injury that he sustained earlier in September, causing him to miss a couple of games throughout the month. However, he has bounced back into a rhythm at the plate.

"He is a professional hitter and knows what he is doing up there," Braves outfielder Nick Markakis said. "More times than not, he executes and is a great guy to have in the top of your lineup."

Inciarte, who was not available for comment after the game Sunday, ranks second in the National League in hits behind Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon. He could become the first Braves player to finish in the top two on the NL hit list since Terry Pendleton in 1999.

Inciarte has eight games remaining to reach 200, starting with Monday's doubleheader against the Mets. On Aug. 30, he collected eight hits across a doubleheader against the Phillies. There is an outside shot he could reach Grissom's 207 hits by the end of the season.

"He is just disciplined and has a plan when he goes up there," Markakis said. "He sticks to it and doesn't stray too far from it."

Inciarte's season was highlighted by his first All-Star Game selection. The 2016 Gold Glove Award winner has also become a respected presence in the clubhouse in just his second season in Atlanta.

"What he does in center field explains it," Markakis said. "I am glad to have him over here and he is a big part of this team."

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.