“It’s nice,” manager Brian Snitker said. “We just had a little champaign toast in there congratulating the guys. We have a seat at the table now. It’s not what we left spring training to accomplish, because that’s the division, but I think to get in is huge and I wanted to congratulate the guys for getting a seat at the table. Our priority, our No. 1 goal, is to win the division.”
The team’s magic number to clinch its sixth consecutive NL East title is six. The Braves can earn the division crown as early as Tuesday since they’ll be facing the second-place Phillies in the coming days.
2. Fittingly, outfielder Ronald Acuña played hero for the Braves. The NL MVP frontrunner smacked a ball off the center field wall in the seventh, scoring two runs and giving the Braves their first lead of the afternoon. He was showered with “MVP” chants.
The Braves scored four runs in the frame, doing so with just singles and walks. It’s a testament to the team’s offensive versatility; they don’t rely strictly on the home run despite their historically potent power.
“I feel like we’re balanced,” Acuña said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “We have good hitters, good pitching and we’re focused on every pitch until the final out.”
3. For the sake of extra rest, the Braves started Dylan Dodd and Allan Winans over the past two days. While Dodd underwhelmed Saturday, they couldn’t have asked for more out of Winans on Sunday.
The righty, in his fourth career start, allowed two runs on six hits across 6-1/3 innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk.
“I was talking to A.J. (Smith-Shawver) about it, we live together, we were on our way to the field this morning and I was like, ‘Man, I just feel a little bit better. I feel a little more normal, like I’m going to the field in (Triple-A) Gwinnett, which is encouraging,’” Winans said. “That kind of stuff helps when it comes to getting out there.”
Winans has given the Braves a 4.50 ERA over 22 innings. He’s proven quality depth for a team that’s used a handful of pitchers throughout the year due to injuries.
“Walking around in here, looking around and see Snit cheering the entire team, they’ve put a lot of work in all year and they deserve all that’s coming to them,” Winans said. “It’s going to be a fun end of the year. It’s definitely exciting. I’m proud to be a part of this team, put the jersey on and understand how special it is. Today was nice, being able to help them win.”
4. Outfielder Eddie Rosario had a phenomenal homestand. He had a hit in each of the six games, going 10-for-23 (.435). Rosario was a game-changer for the Braves in the 2021 postseason, and his production makes the Braves’ lineup that much more menacing.
5. Acuña is five homers shy of the first 40-60 season in MLB history. First baseman Matt Olson is four homers shy of tying Andruw Jones’ franchise record of 51 home runs in a season. Winans hasn’t taken seeing his teammates for granted.
“Across the league, if you talk to any player, what (Acuña) is doing, what Olson is doing, what (Shohei) Ohtani is doing, those types of guys, all of us are just blown away,” Winans said. “It’s pretty incredible. You heard the crowd tonight chanting ‘MVP.’ There’s a reason why they’re saying that. It’s a special thing to watch and I’m not going to get tired of watching it any time soon. And I don’t think anybody else will, either.”
Stat to know
1 (The Braves’ offense struck out only once Sunday, just the second time that’s happened since 2018. The other occasion was against the Diamondbacks on July 29, 2022.)
“It’s incredible. Any time I hear those chants, I feel like they give me goosebumps. Fortunately, when I heard them, I was able to deliver.” – Acuña on MVP chants
The Braves will face the Phillies in a doubleheader Monday. Charlie Morton (14-11, 3.32) will start one game. The Braves haven’t announced a starter for the other game, but Snitker said Kyle Wright, who hasn’t pitched in a major-league game since May due to shoulder inflammation, is an option. Spencer Strider would’ve started Monday but he’s sick so the Braves pushed him to Wednesday.