Four in a Row: Braves clinch NL East, sweep Phillies at home

The Atlanta Braves topped the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night, claiming their fourth consecutive National League East division title.

Let’s be honest, none of us saw this coming. All of us at various points during the season thought the Atlanta Braves were not going to even sniff the playoffs this year (much less win the division), and there was so much that happened for you to believe it.

Maybe it was when the team started the 2021 season 0-4, or could not get over .500 as if it was a glass ceiling as the season rolled on. Maybe it was the troubling news about Marcell Ozuna’s arrest. Maybe it was the season-ending injuries to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mike Soroka, the latter his second straight season-ender.

In short, this had the makings of being a lost season for the Braves, but not anymore.

The Braves took down the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday with a final score of 5-3 to secure the NL East division and their fourth in a row dating back to 2018.

Jorge Soler got the game going with a very, VERY long leadoff home run. That was his 13th homer since joining the Braves and 26th overall on the year.

MVP candidate Austin Riley broke glass like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out on Monday Night RAW to stun Vince McMahon when he took Phillies’ starter Kyle Gibson deep in the 4th inning. That was his 33rd homer on the year and 104th RBI.

Here’s a live look at Austin Riley to his fellow NL MVP candidates and MVP voters:

Ozzie Albies had an RBI triple in the 5th inning that scored Freddie Freeman. Joe Girardi would remove Kyle Gibson from the game following that hit.

Rookie Ian Anderson went 6 innings and allowed two runs, both coming off an Andrew McCutchen home run in the 7th inning. All of Atlanta’s starters in this series pitched remarkably well.

Lots of people deserve credit for this turnaround, especially GM Alex Anthopoulos . When Ronnie went down with an injury, he knew he had to wheel and deal to get some depth for the outfield and the struggling Atlanta bullpen.

Beginning with Joc Pederson shortly after the All Star break, AA acquired outfielders Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Jorge Soler, and relief pitcher Richard Rodriguez. Since July 15 (when Pederson was traded to Atlanta), the Braves have gone 42-27, thanks in no small part to these new acquisitions.

These players did more than simply produce on the field, they brought new energy to a dugout that desperately needed a boost with the demoralizing 2021 the Braves were having.

Now, with the NL East under their belts, Atlanta can begin looking ahead to their NLDS opponent, who will be the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves were 3-3 against the Brewers this season, and this should be an exciting series of baseball, with both teams sporting some very good starting pitching.

Previews for the NLDS will come soon enough, but let’s celebrate the resilience of this team to overcome every odd set against them to take home the NL East yet again. Truly this season won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

See you in Chop-tober. Go Braves.