Braves sweep Philly for fourth-straight NL East title

Friday, October 1, 2021

-Clint Manry

Of course both of my kids had games on Thursday night, causing my attention towards the Braves-Phillies game to suffer. But Atlanta wasn’t waiting on me. After beating Philly 5-3 in the series finale last night, the Braves are — for the fourth time in a row — division champs. 

Atlanta did what it’s done this entire Phillies series — the lineup struck early. In the Braves half of the opening inning, with a full-count, lead-off hitter Jorge Soler nearly hit a 92-MPH fastball out of the stadium to put the Bravos up 1-0. 

The Phillies had an opportunity to answer in the second, following a walk, a double and an intentional free pass, but Braves starter Ian Anderson got Kyle Gibson to cue a bases-loaded groundout to end the threat. From there, Anderson would set down 11 of the next 12 batters. The righty only struck out two on the night, but he did a nice job of keeping the ball on the dirt, inducing seven groundouts in the outing. 

In the meantime, Austin Riley and Dansby Swanson tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth as the former blasted a breaking ball into the Phillies bullpen for a solo-homer and the latter slapped an RBI double.

Through six innings, Atlanta led 5-0 and looked to be cruising to a division clincher. 

But in Philly’s half of the seventh, things got interesting. Brad Miller led off against Anderson with a single, and then Andrew McCutchen somehow got to a perfectly-placed pitch for a golfed two-run homer. Just like that, the Phillies were back in it, down 5-2.

Fortunately, though, Braves manager Brian Snitker went with his dominant-of-late bullpen and gave Anderson the hook. Snitker called upon reliever A.J. Minter and the lefty worked through the frame mostly unscathed. 

Luke Jackson came on to start the eighth, but once again the Phillies added a late-innings run when J.T. Realmuto turned on a hanger by Jackson. 

However, that would be as close as Philly would come to a comeback. Jackson settled down and got a third out to end the inning, and in the ninth, Will Smith set down McCutchen, Didi Gregorius and Ronald Torreyes in order. The Braves did it!

The Braves victory on Thursday guarantees the team an NLDS matchup with the Brewers, who I’ll preview soon. Atlanta has just three games remaining, all with the Mets over the weekend. Hopefully everyone stays healthy and the team’s core players can get some much-needed rest before the postseason cranks up next week. Congrats to this club. It was a helluva regular season!

Ian Anderson and the Braves can clinch a playoff spot tonight  

Thursday, September 30, 2021

-Clint Manry

Just one more win. That’s all the Braves need to clinch a fourth-straight NL East title. With a series finale versus the Phillies coming up tonight at 7:20 PM (ET), Atlanta can punch its ticket to an NLDS matchup. All they have to do is win just one more.

Charlie Morton and Max Fried took care of business in the series first two games, going the distance with back-to-back seven-inning outings that featured a combined 16 strikeouts. Now, coming off the second-best start of his 2021 season (per Game Score) versus the D’Backs, it’s Ian Anderson’s turn to shut down the Phillies.

The 23-year-old Anderson has pitched well against Philly so far this season, going seven innings himself in his most recent outing versus the team (back on June 10). In four total starts against the NL East rival in 2021, Anderson owns a 3.09 ERA to go with 24 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. Phils batters are hitting just .224 against the Braves righty this season, and their .671 OPS doesn’t exactly scare anyone either. Can Anderson keep up the good work?

As many of us are aware, Thursday’s matchup is no doubt the biggest game of the Braves season thus far. With the NL Central already decided by the Brewers’ clinching this past Sunday, Atlanta’s postseason opponent is set. In the West, the Giants and Dodgers are battling it out for first, though both are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. The East is currently the only NL division still waiting for a postseason representative. But that can change tonight at Truist!