How Braves will balance rest vs. chasing home-field advantage for playoffs
Bello plays well in first Atlanta United start
More than 72,000 at Atlanta United vs. Real Salt Lake
Brian Snitker’s journey reaches latest apex: the playoffs
The Braves have a message for the rest of the National League: Bring it. Fresh off securing the NL East title, the Braves were talking postseason while being drenched in champagne. A common message: They don’t plan to take our foot off the gas.
The Braves are back in the postseason. They secured the National League East crown with a 5-3 win over the Phillies on Saturday. It was their 18th division title, the most in MLB history. It was an emotional clubhouse after the game, led by manager Brian Snitker, who’s in his 42nd season with the Braves organization. The victorious group was as ecstatic as imaginable.
The wondrous part was that, at the end, it didn’t seem wondrous at all. The best team in the National League East clinched its division with eight days to spare. If you saw these Braves in three games against second-place Philadelphia this week, you’d have thought, “What’s the big deal? This club is miles ahead of that one.” But that’s the thing.
The Braves’ ‘magic number’ is zero. The Braves beat the Phillies 5-3 Saturday afternoon and clinched the NL East title. The Braves did it with seven games to spare in the regular season. The Braves also upped their East Division lead to an insurmountable 8 ½ games in the standings.
Exactly five years ago, the Braves celebrated their last division title before soon embarking on baseball’s latest trend: a complete teardown. One done with the promise of sustainable success, done in hope of recapturing the mystique of the 1990s and devising a roster with embraceable talents and well-renowned flair. Mission accomplished. The Braves are National League East champions.
The Braves are on the verge of winning their first National League East title since 2013. Here are a few reasons why: One run games: The Braves are 22-12 in one-run contests. That’s the best record in the NL, and third best overall. They went 19-24 in close contests last season.
The day is coming. It may be Saturday or Sunday – that would be the easiest finish – but it’s at worst two wins away. After a half-decade of retooling, the Braves will win the National League East. They’re primed to experience jubilation unknown to most of the roster, with Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran the only two remaining from the last edition to spray champagne.
The champagne is on ice. The Phillies punched. The Braves counter-punched. And the latter was a near-knockout blow. The Braves scored five times in a wild seventh inning, capped by a two-run single by Johan Camargo, for a 6-5 victory Friday night at SunTrust Park. The win reduced the Braves’ magic number to clinch the National League East to two over the Phillies.
The weekend pulls in too many directions. Prepare to be cleaved and conflicted. There are some very good reasons why this Tour Championship is moving to August.
Arodys Vizcaino was not available to the Braves out of the bullpen for Friday night’s game against the Phillies. After pitching a perfect eighth inning in a key win Thursday night, the goal is to get the closer to pitch back-to-back days before the end of the final homestand of the regular season and, hopefully, for the postseason. Vizcaino returned from the 10-day disabled list on Sept.
Sean Newcomb is out of the Braves rotation. For now. The left-hander was skipped from a scheduled start Saturday during this week’s final homestand of the season. Braves manager said the young pitcher will work out of the bullpen for now and the situation re-evaluated following an off day Monday before a regular-season ending six-game road trip.
This is what the Braves’ rebuild has been all about. Just ask Nick Markakis. He’s been here for much of it. Markakis is in his fourth season with the Braves, after nine with the Orioles, after signing as a free agent in 2014. After winning 96 games in 2013 – the last time the Braves reached the playoffs – the win totals were 79, 67, 69 and 72. Here are the new Braves.
The Braves led the National League East by two games at the close of business Aug. 31. They now lead by 6-1/2 games and are positioned to clinch the National League East with two more victories this weekend. Credit them for doing what needed doing, even as they’ve had a three-game losing streak and a four-game skid in September, a month that has seen them go 11-8.
The Braves’ biggest late-season series in five years got off to a good start Thursday night at SunTrust Park. The Braves broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning on back-to-back doubles by Dansby Swanson and pinch-hitter Lucas Duda, added four runs in the eighth inning and defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 8-3 in a meeting of the top two teams in the National League East.
For many weeks, this series has been circled on the Braves’ schedule. It arrived Thursday and continues through the weekend: the Braves vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at SunTrust Park in a late-season collision of the top two teams in the National League East.
The Braves are closing in on their first playoff appearance since 2013, and they could secure the berth on their home field this weekend. When the Braves last played in the postseason, they weren’t even in the same stadium they’re playing in now.
The Braves and the Phillies begin a four-game series Thursday night at SunTrust Park. The teams play again in a three-game series in Philadelphia Sept. 28-30. The seven games will help decide which is the best team in the NL East Division this season. Right now, the standings say the Braves are, by 5 ½ games. The stats say it too.
The Braves play a 162-game schedule, each game counting as one. In the grand scheme, Game No. 152 carried no more weight than Game No. 52. But in the here and now – here being SunTrust Park after four wretched losses, now being September – this felt … “Huge,” said Bobby Cox, who won 14 consecutive division titles as Braves manager.
No one told the Braves they were at home Wednesday. The offense produced, the bullpen protected a lead and jollification was abound. “It’s nice to know what winning feels like again,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. Touki Toussaint, in his fourth start, was tasked with the stopper role. He played it well, keeping the Cardinals at bay into the sixth inning.
Atlanta Braves look to avoid sweep by the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, at SunTrust Park in Atlanta.
Listen up local sports fans, the next four days will be action-packed with championship golf to high school football. The Braves could put the finishing touches on a division title before the weekend is over. Tiger and Phil are in town, and Drew Brees will be here shortly. Here’s a guide to the some of the top events over the next four days: - Braves vs.
Math heavily favors the Braves winning the National League East. Of course, it also favored the Falcons up 28-3, and the Bulldogs up … Anyway, the Braves carried a 5-1/2 game lead into play Wednesday. They defeated the Cardinals, 7-3, to avoid a sweep. The Phillies faced the Mets later that night.
I’m not backing off my prediction. (Actually, it’s one prediction made a half-dozen times, but who’s counting?) The Braves are not – repeat, ARE NOT – going to blow this. But they do need to start winning again posthaste. The past four games have marked the nadir of these Braves. They’ve been outscored 32-12.
The Braves’ losing streak reached four games with Tuesday’s 8-1 loss to the Cardinals. It dropped them to .500 (38-38) at SunTrust Park. It gave up precious ground in the National League East. Hey, at least they had seven walk-free innings. Until two came around to hurt them in St. Louis’ four-run eighth. In all, this short stretch will probably be a blip on the radar.
Anibal Sanchez and the Braves enter Tuesday trying to snap a three-game skid and hand the Cardinals their first loss at SunTrust Park (4-0). Here’s a rundown before the game: 1. The Braves have lost 13 of 17 at home, falling to 38-37 in Atlanta. They own the 10th best home mark in the National League, complemented by the best road results (45-30).
The Braves have a walking problem, but there’s still little reason to overreact to a brief rut. From distressed social-media postings to the questions manager Brian Snitker faced in Tuesday’s pregame, there’s been a level of exaggerated concern about the Braves’ latest slump, if it can even be called such.
Austin Riley and Touki Toussaint were named the Atlanta Braves Minor League Players of the Year for 2018, the team announced Tuesday. Riley, the Gwinnett Stripers third baseman, received the Hank Aaron Award for player of the year. Riley was also named the Stripers’ Player of the Year. Toussaint, the right-hander now with the Braves, received the Phil Niekro Award for pitcher of the year.
Bad news: The Atlanta Braves’ pitching has collapsed. Good news: They’ll still win the division. The Philadelphia Phillies must be kicking themselves, although if they kick the way they hit, they’d miss their own rear ends. Philly has lost consecutive games to the Marlins and the Mets, teams playing for nothing, and has been outhit 23-11 over the two.
When the Braves went to St. Louis in a series spanning late May and early June, the Cardinals were in disarray. The Braves swept, outscoring the Cardinals 22-10 while their starters posted a collective 0.00 ERA. These aren’t those same Red Birds. St. Louis was reinvigorated after a managerial change, leaping into wild-card position.
Braves manager Brian Snitker and his team subscribe to the “one day at a time” mantra, but that’s not what we’re going to do in this exercise. The Rockies and Dodgers are meeting in Los Angeles this week, a series that carries significant weight in the National League West race – and in sculpting the Braves’ postseason fate.
As postseason auditions go, the weekend turns of Julio Teheran and Sean Newcomb weren’t encouraging. Teheran issued a career-worst six walks in four innings Saturday; a day later, Newcomb yielded five runs in three.
Johan Camargo rejoined the Braves lineup on Monday after a four-game absence. The Braves opened a three-game series with the Cardinals. Camargo exited the Sept. 11 game in San Francisco with left-groin tightness. The Braves felt the third baseman could’ve returned over the weekend but took a more cautious approach.
This week at the East Lake Golf Club, they are inviting the paying public to come and enjoy a beer that hasn’t just been brewed, but rather “crafted.” Maybe, too, take a hack on a swing simulator, get up close with a baby alligator, watch a little football on a big screen. And that’s before moving on to the Bloody Mary and grilled oysters part of the program.
At least the past two days have helped the Braves in evaluating their postseason rotation plans. Sean Newcomb lasted three innings, exiting in a five-run hole his offense was unable to combat, and the Braves lost 6-4 to the Nationals on Sunday. After winning six of seven on their western trip, the Braves returned home and dropped a series to the Nationals.
Growing up in Alabama, Hank Aaron didn’t play Little League baseball. And in 1955 he was just beginning his professional career, playing his second season with the Milwaukee Braves.
Arodys Vizcaino pitched in his first game since July 11 on Saturday, delivering a scoreless ninth in the Braves’ 7-1 loss to the Nationals. Vizcaino recently came off the 60-day disabled list for throwing shoulder inflammation, missing 55 games. He’d recorded a 1.65 ERA with a career-best 15 saves in 32-2/3 innings.
The A-1 headline of the Atlanta Journal on Oct. 4, 1991: “It’s Title Time in Tomahawk Town.” It was brilliant in every way – pithy (six words), alliterative (four T-words) and mood-of-the-city-capturing (that was our summer of foam tomahawks).
The Braves struggled to wake up Saturday, when their offense went on walkabout for the longest time and the pitching staff walked just about as many as you can in a 7-1 loss to the Nationals. SunTrust Park was left wanting for the team that rode a season-high, six-game winning streak into the game.
The contest Friday night between established greatness and limitless possibility was really no contest at all. What a rout. Get outta the way, establishment. Ronald Acuna Jr. is playing through. The Braves rookie took batting practice off three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer this night – and really complicated Scherzer’s campaign for a fourth.
Tommy McDonald, the small, speedy and sure-handed receiver who teamed with quarterback Norm Van Brocklin to help the Philadelphia Eagles win the 1960 NFL championship, has died. He was 84. His death was announced Monday by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Details were not disclosed. McDonald played one season for the Falcons. In 1967, he had 33 catches and four touchdowns in eight games.
The Braves announced that single-game tickets for a potential National League Division Series will go on sale Wednesday. The Braves lead the National League East Division by 7-1/2 games over the second-place Phillies entering play Friday. The Braves’ magic number to clinch the East is 10.
1. The Braves (82-64) did not play Thursday. 2. The Phillies (74-71) also did not play Thursday. 3. The Braves lead the Phillies by 7 ½ games in the NL East. 4. The Nationals (74-73) are just a game behind the Phillies, 8 ½ behind the Braves. 5. The Braves’ magic number to clinch the East title is 10.
The Braves traveled to Phoenix with a 3.5-game lead in the National League East, a fortunate outcome after they were devastatingly swept at home by the Red Sox. Their flight back East was much more exultant. The Braves went 6-1 over the week-long escapade, swiping three of four from Arizona and sweeping the reeling Giants in California.
Wednesday was an afternoon of missed scoring chances and men stranded on base. The Braves just barely scraped by with their last chance. In the ninth, Charlie Culberson sat at third with two outs for Tyler Flowers. Flowers grounded out to third, but first baseman Brandon Belt’s foot slipped off the bag as he received the throw.
For the third time this season, you won’t find the Braves’ game on television. Today’s 3:45 p.m. game from San Francisco can only be viewed on Facebook. » More: Find today’s Braves-Giants game here
Mike Foltynewicz understandably hasn’t given it any thought, but when the Braves play their first postseason game since 2013, it’s likely going to feature him on the mound. The righty took the mound Tuesday in San Francisco’s 62-degree weather with a pleasant breeze.
Ronald Acuna has been the talk of baseball over the past 51 games. The Braves rookie outfielder has surged ahead in the rookie-of-the-year race, and his offensive breakout in the leadoff spot has propelled his club into first place. Here are notables that define Acuna’s first season: 1. Acuna is one of seven players to launch 25 homers before turning 21 years old.
Utilityman Charlie Culberson, who wasn’t even set to play Tuesday, corralled a ball through the light San Francisco breeze towards the renowned lit-up Coca-Cola bottle in left field. The home run came just moments after Juan Soto’s gave Washington a 7-6 lead over Philadelphia, quite possibly ripping the remaining soul out of the fading Phillies.
Braves third baseman Johan Camargo exited in the second inning of Tuesday’s game in San Francisco with left-groin tightness, according to the team. Camargo was running up the first-base line and grabbed his left groin in pain. He reached on an error, but left the game shortly thereafter. Charlie Culberson replaced him and homered in the fifth inning.
Before Ronald Acuna made his major-league debut, everyone had a comparison. Hank Aaron. Alex Rodriguez. Roberto Clemente. Ken Griffey Jr. The theme: Superstar athletes, face-of-the-franchise talents, Hall of Famers. Acuna came in with the heaviest of expectations, and so far he’s fulfilled his promise. That stems beyond his on-field performance.
Ozzie Albies might be the Braves’ secret weapon, which sounds absurd when revisiting his first half. The second baseman was April’s MVP, setting a franchise record with 22 extra-base hits. He was the Braves’ mini-superman, packing punch exceeding his smaller frame. Before Ronald Acuna debuted, Albies was the 20-year-old star warranting all the buzz.
The Braves’ heads-up baserunning has been crucial in their leap to contention. Ozzie Albies, among the more aggressive runners on the team, illustrated how dangerous his team can be on the paths Monday night. Albies appeared to hit a routine single to begin the seventh, but sprinted to second as Gorkys Hernandez’s throw sailed over first baseman Brandon Belt.
Jose Ramirez was already a long-shot to join the Braves’ bullpen. That far-fetched proposition has been eliminated. Ramirez will be shut down for the rest of the season, manager Brian Snitker confirmed Monday. The righty’s rehab outing with Single-A Rome didn’t go well: He allowed four runs on four hits while recording only one out in Rome’s 6-0 elimination loss.
The Braves’ taxed bullpen has help on the way. Arodys Vizcaino will rejoin the team when it begins its next homestand Friday. He hasn’t pitched since July 11 due to shoulder inflammation, thus removing one of the more valuable pieces for the backend of the bullpen. Vizcaino recorded a career-high 15 saves before the injury.
Ronald Acuna’s accomplishments during his rookie season keep piling up. Last month, the Braves’ rookie outfielder became the youngest player in history to hit a home run in five consecutive games. His eight lead-off homers are the franchise record.
If you’re betting against these Braves, you haven’t been watching. They’ve taken punch after punch only to reiterate with a bang. Remember the Colorado four-game sweep? They swept Pittsburgh on the road in response. Their latest demonstration of resiliency: Losing three to the Red Sox, including the finale in excruciating fashion, only to go take three of four in Arizona.
Ender Inciarte attempted to bunt with two on and none out in the ninth, his Braves trailing 4-3 Sunday afternoon. He was unsuccessful. Then faced with two strikes, he had to swing - and the ball still hasn’t landed. Inciarte’s long three-run homer jump-started a six-run inning as the Braves pulled away for a 9-5 win.
The Braves are going for their first series win in Arizona since 2012. Touki Toussaint faces Robbie Ray in Sunday’s finale. Here’s what to know entering the game: 1. The Diamondbacks were already bit by Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte on Saturday, and Toussaint could complete the trifecta. Arizona took him with their first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
Since he was drafted last June, Kyle Wright has harped on the privilege of joining the Braves, the franchise which helped him grow to love baseball. Wright, 22, is through two outings in the majors after a mad-dash up the minor league ranks. He pitched a pair of scoreless innings against Boston and after a clean seventh inning, got knocked around by the Diamondbacks in the eighth.
Ender Inciarte plated the Braves’ fifth run – one that’d prove the difference – Saturday night with a triple in extras. In the bottom of the 10th, Dansby Swanson fired a rocket to home plate that ended the game. The Braves defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-4, in a postseason-worthy thriller Saturday. But that was a microcosm of the Braves’ superior victory.
It was the best and worst Braves game you’ll see. Thrilling moments have painted the picture of the first-place Braves’ season. Their latest win, a 5-4 victory in Phoenix, was perhaps the most dramatic of them all. “That was a good one,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “I might be 28-years-old with some gray hair now, but that was an exciting ballgame.
Braves relievers Arodys Vizcaino and Jose Ramirez pitched for Single-A Rome in the postseason Friday night as both work their way back from injuries. Vizcaino has been sidelined by shoulder inflammation. He hasn’t appeared in a major league game since July 11, and A.J. Minter has since assumed closer duties.
If this is Johan Camargo’s showcase to secure the Braves’ starting third base job beyond 2018, he’s been doing a remarkable job. Camargo didn’t assume the regular third base role until late May. Injuries derailed him early in the season. His rookie season was a pleasant surprise, but detractors pointed to his luck, specifically his favorable results with the ball in play.
A faulty night was bound to happen for Kevin Gausman. And his offense didn’t have enough juice to bail him out. Gausman has been brilliant since the Braves acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline. Rejuvenated in a pennant race, he’s flashed the qualities one would expect from a former top-five draft selection. He exhibited the traits of an ace.
Kevin Gausman and the Braves oppose Patrick Corbin and the Diamondbacks on Friday night, trying for their second win in Phoenix to start the weekend. Here’s what to know before the game: 1. The Braves’ 40-29 road record is the best in the National League. They have 12 road contests remaining, and one more win secures them their first non-losing road campaign since 2012.
After 17 pitchers were relied upon Thursday, the Braves and Diamondbacks take on additional challenges in managing their bullpens for the remaining three games in Phoenix. The Braves bullpen is a bit taxed, which shifts responsibility to youngsters Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson. Almost all their usual options need rest, with six games remaining until a Sept. 13 off-day.