The Atlanta Braves have claimed the NL East title, defeating the Miami Marlins Tuesday night to cap their incredible comeback.
At one point in the season, the Braves trailed the New York Mets by 10.5 games for the division lead. It has been a wild ride in the second half for the defending World Series champions though, and after a sweep of the Mets this past weekend, they needed just a single win to claim their fifth straight division title.
The Braves head into the postseason with a first-round bye, going straight to the NLDS to await their opponent from the Wild Card Round, which will now be a best-of-three series.
It was a close game in Miami, as the Braves eked out a 2-1 victory. Ronald Acuna Jr. hit an RBI single at the top of the second inning, but Jesus Sanchez tied the game with a solo homer in the fourth inning.
William Contreras would single home Travis d’Arnaud in the next inning, and that would be all the Braves needed to win.
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Despite beating the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of their doubleheader on Tuesday – and currently holding a sizable lead in Game 2 – the Mets will be heading to the Wild Card Round with 100 wins or more (one final game needs to be played on Wednesday).
While they clinched their first postseason berth since 2016, the Mets wanted to avoid the first round if they could. They controlled their own destiny this past weekend, and had their best starters and team on the field at Truist Park in Atlanta to do so. But the Braves, the hottest team in baseball since the All-Star break, ran them out of town.
Atlanta won 5-2, 4-2, and 5-3 from Friday to Sunday, turning the tides as the division lead came down to the wire.
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It was June 1 when the Mets owned that 10.5-game lead. From that date until Sept. 2, New York went 53-31, a very solid record; but Atlanta went nuclear, going 60-24.
The Mets are better than some division winners across MLB, but they did lose games to lowly teams like the Oakland Athletics, Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Nationals in September that allowed the Braves to inch closer and closer as they went on their tear.
There is a chance that both of these teams meet in the NLCS, but the Mets will have to win some games before that can be a reality. The Mets own the four seed despite having a better record than the NL Central-winning St. Louis Cardinals. So they will face the San Diego Padres, the fifth seed.
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