The Braves started their road trip on a high note by taking two out of three from the Phillies. Going into Washington with a 5.5 game lead, Atlanta has an opportunity to widen the gap even more.
Coming into Philadelphia, the Braves were limping, losing 6 of their last 9. The offense, the part of the team that has carried the team to their current NL East lead, was stalling for the first time since June. Dansby Swanson, for injury, and Austin Riley, poor performance, was taken out of the lineup in place of Johan Camargo and Ender Inciarte. The results were positive over the weekend.
Over the three-game set, the Braves offense exploded for 28 runs. The biggest fireworks came in the first two games, 9 in the first and 15 in the second. In the third game, the only loss, the team was still able to score four runs off Aaron Nola, who had been dealing up to that point. Most importantly, the contributor list over the week was wide and plentiful. Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Josh Donaldson, Ender Inciarte, Ozzie Albies, even Max Fried, were all big parts in the Braves offensive output from over the weekend.
Unfortunately, the Braves suffered a loss much worse than on the field. On Friday night, Nick Markakis was hit by a pitch on the wrist which led to a fracture of his left wrist. After the game, the Braves placed Markakis on the 10-day IL list, his first time landing on the IL in his five seasons with the Braves. Adam Duvall was called up in place of Markakis. Duvall, who has been killing AAA all season, was able to contribute right away with a home run on Saturday.
The good news leaving Philadelphia is that the Braves took care of their business, taking two of three while maintaining a solid lead over the Phillies and Nationals. With the Nationals next up for a three-game set, the pressure intensifies further by squaring off with the team directly behind you in the NL East. Subsequently, this series will prove to be decisive in deciding the NL East race as the season progresses.
The Braves rotation will be at their full force with Dallas Keuchel, Julio Teheran, and Mike Soroka going in this three-game series. On the contrast, the Braves will have to deal with Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez. Max Scherzer was slated to the start the second game, but after a missed bullpen session on Sunday, that start is in doubt. Always good news when the Braves can avoid Max Scherzer.
On Friday, I touched on the importance of this road trip against Philadelphia and Washinton. With the way the Braves were playing coming into the road trip, things looked like they could have gotten very tight in the NL East. By taking two from the Phillies, the Braves took back their momentum and solidified their beliefs that they are the best team in the NL East and National League. This team needs to keep its foot on the gas in these next three games. With the way things are lining up going into Washington, the Braves have a great chance of doing that.