For the fifth straight season, the Atlanta Braves are the National League East Division Champions. They only scored two runs in an incredibly-nervy performance at the plate, but Jake Odorizzi and the bullpen made absolutely sure that it stood up. Atlanta’s pitching staff only gave up one run and they carried the Braves over the finish line with a 2-1 win over the Marlins.
Coming into this game, the Braves desperately needed a good performance from Jake Odorizzi in order to have a good chance of winning the game. While Odorizzi ended up falling a few innings short of hitting that 110 IP threshold that would’ve netted him a cool million dollars, he gave the Braves exactly what they needed on any given night. On this particular night, it was like finding gold in the river.
Odorizzi finished the night with five innings pitched, two hits allowed, one walk conceded, seven strikeouts (one shy of his season-high) and just one run given up. The run came on what was probably Odorizzi’s only major mistake of the game — he left a meatball right in the middle of the plate for Jesús Sánchez to absolutely crush. Other than that, Odorizzi did his job on the mound tonight. He went through the order twice, ate up five innings and didn’t run into major trouble at any point in this one.
While Odorizzi seemingly had a pretty calm and easy night, it was anything but an easy night for the Braves at the plate. Atlanta had baserunners all night but the problem was getting a big hit with those runners on base. Instead of seeing the long ball that helped power this team so much this season, the Braves were being forced into playing small ball against Miami’s pitching staff.
While Odorizzi did give up a home run in the first inning, Sánchez’s solo shot only tied the game. This came two innings after the Braves scratched together a run after a pair of one-out walks and then Ronald Acuña Jr. laced a two-out RBI single into the outfield. While Acuña was able to rack up his 29th stolen base of the season, Dansby Swanson struck out looking to end the inning. This was a trend for the Braves tonight as they picked up a handful of backwards K’s at the hands of Braxton Garrett.
Things were quiet for Atlanta until the fifth inning, which is when the deadlock was broken in very uncharacteristic fashion for this team. Following a one-out double from Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras hit a little dribbler towards third base that forced Jordan Groshans to put the ball in his pocket with no play available to him. d’Arnaud scampered across home plate and the Braves had scratched and clawed their way into a pair of runs.
That ended up having to be enough for the Braves, as the Miami’s pitching staff continued to slam the door shut on any scoring chances Atlanta had going forward. That meant that the onus was squarely placed on the Braves bullpen to finish off the Marlins. The usual suspects of Collin McHugh, Raisel Iglesias and A.J. Minter all pitched scoreless innings to ensure that Kenley Jansen had the opportunity to close out what had been an extremely nervy game for us fans in the ninth inning.
As it turned out, Kenley Jansen was once again lights out in the closing position for the Braves. He struck out Brian Anderson, he sat down Jacob Stallings on a foul tip and then he got Jordan Groshans to harmlessly fly out to the glove of Ronald Acuña Jr. to catch the final out and complete an absolutely sensational run from being 10.5 games back on June 1 to yet another divisional title by October 4.
Tomorrow’s game starts at 4:10 PM ET but it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They’ll be heading straight to the National League Divisional Series with the second-best division-winning record in the National League and potentially won’t have to worry about seeing the team with the best record in baseball until the NLCS. This team definitely has their sights set on repeating as World Series Champions and they will be roaring into the Postseason after taking the divisional crown tonight.