8 numbers that put Braves’ success in perspective

Joshua Adam Donaldson was born Dec. 8, 1985 in Pensacola, Fla. Donaldson’s nickname is “Bringer of Rain” Donaldson was drafted by the Cubs with the 48th pick of the 2007 draft and traded to Oakland the next year. Donaldson's MLB debut came April 30, 2010, with Oakland at Toronto. The next day Donaldson’s first hit was a two-run homer off Dana Eveland of Toronto. Donaldson was a catcher for his first 10 games, but he settled in at third base. Donaldson was the American League MVP in 2015, when he led the

The Braves enter Saturday only 3-1/2 games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the National League. Here are some numbers that look inside what’s become one of the franchise’s best seasons in recent memory.

8: The Braves have won eight consecutive games entering Saturday, tying their season-best streak. They also won eight consecutive June 7-14 and Aug. 17-25. The Braves have won 19 of their past 23.

9: The Braves hold a nine-game lead in the National League East entering Saturday's game against the Nationals. They've also won nine of their past 11 meetings against Washington, which hasn't gained any standing in the division despite surging since late May.

12: The Braves have won 12 consecutive games at home, tying a modern-era record set in 2000. The streak began with Game 2 of the Dodgers series on Aug. 17.

13: The Braves' magic number to clinch the NL East is 13. Each win over Washington dwindles that number by two. Every Braves win and Nationals loss will drop the number by one each. At the current trajectory, the Braves could clinch sometime during their final homestand Sept. 17-22.

18: The amount of games the Braves have swung on the Phillies since that dreadful opening weekend meeting. The Braves were pounded in Philadelphia, starting 0-3 as the Bryce Harper era began with a bang.

That can be looked upon as a valuable lesson. Baseball is a long season full of twists and turns. The Phillies, who opened with an immediate three-game lead, sit 15 games back in the standings as of Saturday.

Philadelphia is clinging onto a spot in the wild-card race, where they sit four games behind the Cubs to qualify for a postseason spot. The Phillies are tied with the Mets, who were left for dead midseason yet clawed their way back to relevancy.

34: The Braves are 34 games over .500 for the first time since 2003, when a similarly potent offense guided the franchise to 101 wins. The Braves are 88-54, putting their first 100-win season since that very campaign within reach.

35: The Braves are the 16th team in MLB history to have five players hit at least 35 homers. Freddie Freeman (38), Ronald Acuna (37) and Josh Donaldson (35) are the trio.

The 2016 Orioles were the last team to achieve such (Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo). The Braves have achieved such twice before, with Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez and Gary Sheffield doing so in 2003 and Hank Aaron, Darrell Evans and Davey Johnson first doing it in 1973.

36: The amount of millions the Braves paid for one year of Donaldson and Dallas Keuchel. Consider it money well spent.

Donaldson is everything one wants in a middle-of-the-order bat. He’s been superb at third base. He’s added a unique dynamic to the clubhouse that proved valuable as the season progressed.

Keuchel, meanwhile, has a 0.87 ERA over his past five starts and brings a resume of postseason success - an aspect the Braves’ less-seasoned rotation otherwise lacks. Keuchel has also been a mentor to younger pitchers, including Max Fried, whom he’s at times pushed to throw more sliders and rely less on his trademark curveball.