For the second time in three seasons at SunTrust Park, the Braves’ home schedule won’t end with their final homestand.
The Braves lost their final home game, 4-1, to the Giants on Sunday afternoon. They finished 50-31 at home, their first time winning 50 games in Atlanta since 2003.
It was also a successful season for the franchise’s bottom line. The Braves drew 2,655,100 fans this season, not only the best in SunTrust Park’s brief history but the organization’s fourth-highest turnout since 2000, trailing only 2000, 2001 and 2007. The team had 17 sellouts, going 12-5 in those games.
But that isn’t a wrap on SunTrust Park’s third season quite yet. The Braves will host the first two games of the NLDS - and potentially the fifth - beginning Oct. 3.
Sunday’s result won’t damper the weekend. The Braves clinched the National League East (and homefield in the NLDS) on Friday. Manager Brian Snitker took his foot off the gas, resting some regulars Saturday and Sunday.
“I think this weekend went pretty good,” Snitker said, referencing the team resting its players. “I ride these guys hard. So I thought this worked out well to where we could sit guys a little bit and get them off their legs. We’ll have a day off (Monday) which will be good. We’ll see what Tuesday brings.”
Snitker didn’t sound eager to rest his regulars in Kansas City, where the team will play a two-game series this week. He was happy with the weekend’s management and pointed to Monday and Thursday as off days this upcoming week.
The Braves have no plans to alter their rotation either “as of now,” Snitker added. Julio Teheran and Mike Soroka are scheduled to start the games at Kansas City.
First baseman Freddie Freeman, who left Sunday’s game in the eighth, will be resting however. Freeman was again irritated by a bone spur in his right elbow, so he won’t travel with the team to Kansas City but is expected to rejoin them Friday in New York.
As for the game itself, the offense didn’t provide any support for left-hander Dallas Keuchel. The veteran, who will likely start one of the first two games in the NLDS, pitched five scoreless frames before the Giants struck for three in the sixth.
“In a perfect world, you’d like to see a lot more crispness (from yourself before the postseason),” said Keuchel, who pitched through six frames for the seventh time in his last eight starts. “But the human element of the game doesn’t allow that sometimes. Being in the playoffs a few times, you just want to go in healthy. I feel good and that’s the main goal.”
Adeiny Hechavarria, who’s been exceptional depth since joining the team last month, tripled in the seventh and scored on Freddie Freeman’s grounder, representing the Braves’ only run.
The Braves have five games remaining before the postseason. They’ll have Monday and Thursday off, with two games in Kansas City sandwiches in between. They finish the season with three in New York.