Bradley’s Buzz: The Braves’ series win means we’ve got a pennant race

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

The Braves won a pretty big game Thursday, thereby winning a pretty big series. The Mets lead by 3.5 games, but it was only 10 days ago that they led by twice that much.

Had the Braves lost Thursday’s Game 4, they’d have trailed by 5.5 games, which is sizable margin. By winning 3-2 and beating Jacob deGrom in the process, they’ve kept the race for first place alive.

Max Fried returned from a concussion and outpitched deGrom. Dansby Swanson registered his third RBI of the season off deGrom, who has yielded five earned runs. Vaughn Grissom reached on an infield single and scored the winning run on what was basically an infield double by Michael Harris.

A.J. Minter and Raisel Iglesias worked a nervous eighth, Kenley Jansen a strenuous ninth. The Braves benefited from three fielders – Harris, Grissom and Ronald Acuna – being unable to catch a pop fly, turning a bloop single into a fielder’s choice. Baseball is weird.

The teams won’t meet again until the final day of September. They Mets will play three more games at Truist Park in the regular season’s penultimate series. The Braves had lost six of the past eight games against New York entering this week; they’ve now won three of four. This isn’t over.

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A bit of breaking news

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Marcell Ozuna was arrested for DUI this morning in Gwinnett County, the AJC’s Henri Hollis reports. Ozuna didn’t play in the four-game series against the Mets.

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About schedules

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

The Braves finish the week with three against Houston, which holds the AL’s best record. They’ll face a three-game set at St. Louis next weekend. They’ll work a series in Seattle in early September. They have seven September games left with the Phillies, who may be getting Bryce Harper back. The Braves have 19 games left against winning teams. They’ll also face San Francisco, which is 59-59.

The Mets will play four in Philadelphia this weekend, then two at Yankee Stadium. On Aug. 30, they’ll start a three-game series against the Dodgers. Beyond Sept. 1, the New Yorkers will have only six games – three with Milwaukee, three here – remaining against plus-.500 teams. That’s 15 in all.

FanGraphs projects the Mets to win 101 games to the Braves’ 98. The Mets hold an 83.6 chance of winning the division. The Braves have a 99.7 chance of making the playoffs.

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About the playoffs

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Were the postseason to start today, the Dodgers and Mets would hold Round 1 byes. The Braves would be the No. 4 seed and would face No. 5 Philadelphia. The best-of-three series would be played at Truist Park. Should the Braves win, they’d play the Dodgers in the best-of-five NLDS. The other NL Round 1 would pair No. 3 St. Louis against No. 6 San Diego.

The Phillies fired Joe Girardi after starting 22-29. Under interim manager Rob Thomson, they’re 43-23. If you’re picking a team not to face in a best-of-three, they’d be it. They can deploy Zack Wheeler in Game 1 and Aaron Nola in Game 2. Going by FanGraphs WAR, they’ve been the NL’s sixth- and fourth-best pitchers in 2022. (Fried has been third-best.)

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Still more about Deshaun Watson

The NFL didn’t get what it wanted, which was a full-season ban. Nor did Watson get what he thought he had, which was a six-game suspension with no fine. The two sides agreed Thursday to a 11-game penalty with a $5 million fine. Watson saw this as a moment to proclaim his “innocence.” He said: “Settlements and things like that happen and (it doesn’t) mean a person is guilty of anything.”

One reason arbiter Sue L. Robinson docked Watson six games – a decision the NFL appealed – was his apparent absence of remorse. Before Cleveland’s first exhibition game, in which he played, Watson deemed himself remorseful. In a statement released by the Browns on Thursday, he said: “I apologize for any pain this situation has caused. I hold myself accountable for the decisions I made.”

Later, he met with reporters and said: “I feel like through the whole process I’ve been trying to tell my side of the story, but a lot of people just didn’t pay a lot of attention to us.”

Said Browns co-owner Dee Haslam, in what she seemed to consider a teaching moment: “I do think in counseling (which Watson must attend) Deshaun will learn a lot more about himself.”

Watson will be eligible to play in the Browns’ 12th game. It will come against Houston, the team that traded him to Cleveland. Can’t imagine there’ll be any discussion about that one.