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Juggernaut Braves clinch 6th straight NL East crown


PHILADELPHIA — Although they might have never been challenged, the Braves still savored the thrill of capturing a sixth straight National League East crown. They sprayed champagne and began aiming for a long postseason run after claiming a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.  

Austin Riley hit a two-run homer in the first and added a third-inning sacrifice fly to back Spencer Strider, who limited damage during a 36-pitch first and ended up allowing just one run over seven innings. As soon as Kirby Yates recorded the final out of the night, the Braves began celebrating their latest division title on the field where their 2022 season unceremoniously ended.

The Braves increased their MLB-best division title total to 23. This matches their second-earliest clinch date. The 1995 club also sealed the NL East on Sept. 13, and the 2002 team clinched on Sept. 9.  

Benefiting from the MVP-caliber seasons provided by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson, the Braves have owned MLB’s best record for much of the season’s second half. They are four wins away from a second straight 100-win season, which is remarkable given they spent at least three months without Max Fried and Kyle Wright, two of their top starting pitchers.  They also spent the season’s first month without reliever Raisel Iglesias.

But courtesy of Bryce Elder’s breakout, the rotation stayed strong and benefited from one of the most powerful lineups baseball has seen. The Braves were in first place at the end of every one of their games, minus April 2, when they sat a half-game behind the Mets, who had played an extra game at that point. But they didn’t really get rolling until June 3, when they began a seven-game win streak that included a sweep of the then-second place Mets. 

The Braves have gone 63-26 going back to June 3. They exited May with a four-game lead, June with a seven-game lead, July with an 11-game lead and August with a 14-game lead. They ended the race with a 17-game lead over the Phillies.



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