COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The Atlanta Braves have clinched their first NL East title since 2013 after beating Philadelphia at SunTrust Park on Saturday. The 5-3 victory assured the Braves of the division title and a spot in the playoffs.
Sparked by Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, the Baby Braves moved closer to the division crown with a 6-5 win over the Phillies on Friday night. On Saturday, the team dominated, getting four runs in the first two innings while leaving the Phillies scoreless until the top of the eighth.
"You could tell after the first week of workouts that we had the talent to do something special," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "Obviously we still needed to put it together. But this is what happens. You win the division after three straight 90-loss seasons. "
A year after going 70-92, manager Brian Snitker and his Baby Braves surged back into the playoffs. A loud crowd at SunTrust Park joined the party when rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. caught a flyball for the final out, setting off another round of the Tomahawk Chop and a big celebration on the field.
"When we started this series, we knew it was within our grasp," Snitker said. "We knew we couldn't lose track of today. I know I'm redundant saying that all the time, but I felt we just needed to stay current and worry about today's game. These guys have done an unbelievable job of that this year.".
Atlanta won its fourth straight game and beat second-place Philadelphia for the third day in a row.
Sept. 22 seems to be a lucky day for the Braves. It was the same day the team clinched the title in 1996, 1997, and 2013.
The Braves skipped Sean Newcomb's spot, moving up Mike Foltynewicz (11-10, 2.90 ERA) to face Jake Arrieta (10-9, 3.77 ERA). Newcomb has a 7.44 ERA over his last seven starts, endangering his place in the possible playoff rotation after he spent much of the season as one of Atlanta's most effective pitchers.
Newcomb will be available out of the bullpen for the remainder of the weekend but could still make another start in the final week of the regular season, according to manager Brian Snitker.
It has not yet been determined who or where the youth-filled club will play in the best-of-five round.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.