PHILADELPHIA — Although they were never challenged, the Braves enjoyed a sixth straight National League East crown. They popped the champagne and started aiming for a long postseason run after Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Austin Riley hit a two-run homer in the first and was sacrificed in the third inning in favor of Spencer Strider, who limited the damage during a 36-pitch first and allowed just one run in seven innings. With Kirby Yates recording the final out of the night, the Braves began celebrating their latest division title at the stadium that abruptly ended their 2022 season.
The Braves extended their MLB-best division title streak to 23 total. This coincides with their second initial win date. The 1995 club also sealed the NL East on September 13, and the 2002 team won on September 9.
The Braves have MLB’s best record in the second half of the season thanks to MVP-caliber seasons from Ronald Acuna Jr. and Matt Olsen. Four wins away from a second straight 100-win season, it’s notable that they’ve spent at least three months without their top starters, Max Fried and Kyle Wright. They spent the first month of the season without reliever Rhysal Iglesias.
But courtesy of Bryce Elder’s breakout, the rotation was strong and benefited from one of the most potent lineups baseball has ever seen. The Braves were in first place at the end of each game, minus April 2, when they sat a half-game behind the Mets, who played an extra game during that time. But they didn’t really get rolling until June 3, when they began a seven-game hitting streak that included a sweep of the then-second-place Mets.
The Braves are 63-26 through June 3. They blew a four-game lead in May, a seven-game lead in June, an 11-game lead in July and a 14-game lead in August. They finished the race with a 17-game lead over the Phillies.