The Atlanta Braves failed to sweep the Washington Nationals today by losing 7-0 in the last game of the series this afternoon. Even without the sweep, the Braves magic number is now down to 4.
The Atlanta Braves dominated the Washington Nationals in the first two games. With the two wins, the Braves would go on to not only win the series but win the season series against the Nationals, 11-8. The Nationals kept ground with the Braves over the summer but were never able to actually overtake the Braves since the All-Star break. It was a dominant season for the Braves over their chief division rival, which is just one of the few reasons the Braves ran away with the NL East as they did.
There was a lot of good over the weekend series for the Braves. In the opening game of the series, Mike Soroka outdueled Max Scherzer. Even with Scherzer not being at his best, it was a very impressive game for Soroka. Nick Markakis returned from injury this series and looked like he hadn’t been out a month with a broken bone. Ronald Acuna Jr. continues to close in on the amazing feat of a 40-40 season. And, the Braves won the series against the Nationals.
Things didn’t go all in favor of the Braves, however. Charlie Culberson, one of the most important bench guys the Braves have, took a fouled bunt to the face over the weekend, breaking his cheekbone and knocking him out for the rest of the season. Losing Culberson is a big blow going into the playoffs considering he could provide a big hit off the bench and defensive versatility.
Another negative, from Sunday, was Max Fried. After putting together some great starts and getting his ERA back under 4, Fried has had two back-to-back clunkers. Today was ugly for Fried. Fried went 2.1 innings giving up six hits and five earned runs. For a guy who looked like a lock for the postseason rotation, Fried is going to have to get his act together going into the playoffs.
The Braves magic number to win the NL East now sits at 4. With the playoff berth already clinched, the NL East is the last hill to climb before the playoffs. Wrapping up the NL East will likely take place this week. The Braves will return home to wrap up the season series with the Philadelphia Phillies. After that, the Royals and Giants await. Expect the Braves to continue to steamroll their way to the playoffs. Now, the question is, can the Braves continue to steamroll teams in the playoffs?