PHILADELPHIA – Although they may never have faced a challenge, the Braves still relish the thrill of winning a sixth straight National League East title. They sprayed champagne and began targeting a long postseason with a 4-1 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Austin Riley hit a two-run homer in the first inning and added a sacrifice fly in the third to back up Spencer Stryder, who limited the damage over a 36-pitch first and wound up allowing just one run over seven innings. Once Kirby Yates scored the final home run of the night, the Braves began celebrating their final title on the field as the 2022 season unceremoniously ended.
The Braves increased their MLB title total to 23. That matches the second-closest date for clinching them. The 1995 club also closed out the NL East on September 13, and the 2002 team was clinched on September 9.
Benefiting from MVP-caliber seasons by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Matt Olson, the Braves owned MLB’s best record for most of the second half of the season. They’re four wins away from their second straight 100-win season, which is remarkable considering they’ve gone at least three months without Max Fried and Kyle Wright, two of the team’s best players. They also spent the first month of the season without reliever Raisel Iglesias.
But thanks to Bryce Elder’s run, the rotation remained strong and benefited from one of the strongest lineups baseball has ever seen. The Braves were in first place at the end of each of their games, except April 2, when they sat a half-game behind the Mets, who had played an extra game at that point. But they didn’t really take the lead until June 3, when they began a seven-game winning streak that included a sweep of the then-second-place Mets.
The Braves have won 63-26 since June 3. They exited May by four games, June by seven games, July by 11 games, and August by 14 games. They finished with a 17-game lead over the Phillies.
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