ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Braves on Sunday evening packed up the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Park. The vibe was peaceful, even after a loss. These guys deserve to be proud of their incredible first half.

It ended with a 10-4 loss to the Rays on Sunday.

But the Braves experienced far more good than bad. Records. A terrific overall record. Eight All-Stars. And on and on.

They care about what happens after the All-Star break, though.

Five observations:

1. The Braves are 60-29 as they head into the All-Star break. Barring a second-half collapse, they should win their sixth straight National League East crown. Barring an even greater meltdown, they will make the postseason.

The Braves are happy, but they are not stopping here.

They did not show up in spring training to put together a jaw-dropping first half and leave it at that. No, they have greater expectations.

They want to win it all.

“I said this, I think, a long time ago: There was a point where I’d drive to the ballpark and hope to win. And then I started driving to the ballpark and expecting to win,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “These guys come to the park every day and they expect to win. That’s how they go about it and how they prepare and how they work and the energy that they expend in winning games.

“We expected to do good things.”

At the break, Atlanta has the best record in the majors. They won 27 of their final 33 games before the break. They ended the first half by taking 11 consecutive series.

“Yeah, it’s pretty special,” Travis d’Arnaud said. “In the postseason, all you want to do is win the series, so for us to finish out the first half (with) 11 in a row. To do that at any point during the year is pretty rare, pretty special. It’s motivating for us heading into this little break that we got. We’ll be ready to go starting Friday.”

2. Austin Riley was here when it all started – when the Braves went from an up-and-coming club to an established force.

He played with Ronald Acuña in the minor leagues. He was in instructional league with Ozzie Albies. He crossed paths with Max Fried and Michael Soroka. All of these players, and many more, blend together to create the Braves’ trajectory over the last five years.

“They’ve done a good job of building this core,” Riley said.

And then they added Matt Olson. Then they acquired Sean Murphy. Orlando Arcia is an All-Star.

This is baseball’s best team.

“Guys come to play every day, and I think that’s what’s so cool and unique about this club,” Riley said. “It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday – it really doesn’t. They come in the next day and go right back to work.”

3. Bryce Elder on Sunday logged his worst start of the season. He allowed seven runs over 3-1/3 innings. He was nowhere near his best.

Yes, he expected one like this at some point. Rough outings happen. But he said this one might make the break feel a bit longer.

Does his overall first-half success make Sunday easier to digest?

“I don’t know about that,” Elder said. “I think there’s gonna be those starts, and today was one of them, so I’m not gonna look too much into it. I’m gonna reflect on it and think about why I didn’t have as much success, and move on.”

4. In the fourth inning, Travis d’Arnaud homered to set a record.

His home run marked the 26th straight game in which the Braves hit a homer, a franchise record. The 1998 Braves homered in 25 straight games.

The Braves lead baseball (comfortably) with 169 homers.

5. To close the first half, the Braves took two of three from the Rays, who on Sunday snapped a seven-game losing streak.

Yes, every game matters.

But when you win 60 games in the first half, you can go into the break smiling, even after a loss in the finale.

“The way I look at it, great first half,” Riley said. “This game is kind of (a) wash. The guys had a great first half, so they deserve the next three or four days off, and you kind of get your (sights) ready for that second-half run.”

Stat to know

.674 - The Braves’ .674 winning percentage is their best such mark going into the All-Star break in the modern era (since 1900). They were one win shy of tying the modern-era franchise record for wins before the break. The 2003 Braves were 61-32 in the first half, but they played 93 games, whereas this year’s Braves played only 89.


“Oh my gosh. (The Braves have) been good forever. It’s just like, they retool. They retool and get better, they retool and get better. … Atlanta knows how to win. They know how to win and they know how to retool.”- Hall of Famer Wade Boggs to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (The Rays on Sunday inducted Boggs into their team’s hall of fame)

Up next

After the All-Star break, the Braves on Friday will host the White Sox.