The Atlanta Braves clinched their sixth straight NL East title, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 on Wednesday night behind Spencer Strider’s major league-leading 17th win and Austin Riley’s two-run homer.
Kirby Yates struck out Brandon Marsh to end the game and the players danced in crowds near the mound as Phillies fans booed them off the field.
“Congratulations to the Atlanta Braves 2023 NL East Champions” flashed on the scoreboard.
Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. responded to fans’ boos by raising both arms and motioning with his hands to do so.
“We checked a box,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Atlanta (96-50) won in 146 games, its second-fastest of the divisional era. The division title was the Braves’ record 26th, two more than the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
The Braves have seemingly made winning the East a September rite since the 1990s and this year’s team looks loaded enough to win its third World Series since moving from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966. During this Period, Atlanta has won 11 consecutive NL East titles since 1995-2005, and the World Series in 1995 and 2021.
Yates earned his fifth save.
Atlanta had special satisfaction winning on the same field at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies eliminated them last October in the NL Division Series. The Phillies won that series 3-1 – just like Atlanta won that four-game set.
The Phillies lead the NL wild card and the teams could face each other in October.
For now, September belongs to the Braves.
Riley, one of several big players in the lineup, gave the Braves all the runs they needed when he beat Cristopher Sánchez (2-4) to first for his 35th homer. Sanchez hit a career-high 10 in 7 1/3 innings.
Riley hit a sacrifice fly in the third and Kevin Pillar added an RBI double in the fourth for a 4-1 lead.
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Strider (17-5) took over and won for the fifth time in six starts, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings. Strider struck out nine to bring his MLB-best total to 259. He also gave the bullpen the rest it needed after a tough first three games in Philadelphia, in which Raisel Iglesias gave up game-tying homers in the ninth inning in two of them.
The fact that the Braves had the courage to bounce back and win on the road after crushing blows is just one more reason why they might just be the team to beat in the playoffs.
Riley became the third Braves player to reach 35 home runs, joining Matt Olson (51) and Acuña (37). The Braves are tied for the most players with 35 home runs in a season by any team in MLB history.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson said it would be a “pleasant surprise” if injured first baseman Rhys Hoskins could return to the postseason. Hoskins tried to remain optimistic about his ability to play after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee during spring training. Hoskins is playing on a one-year, $12 million contract and may have played his last game with Philadelphia.
Hoskins will continue to tee off on the road trip to St. Louis. Hoskins hit 30 homers with 79 RBIs last season for the National League champions.
The Braves are off as they head to Florida for a three-game set with the Marlins. The Braves send RHP Bryce Elder (12-4, 3.38 ERA) to the mound. The Marlins have not named a starter.
The Phillies take Thursday off before opening a three-game series in St. Louis. The Phillies send RHP Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.64 ERA) to the mound against Cardinals RHP Zack Thompson (5-5, 4.06 ERA).
Associated Press reporting.
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