ATLANTA – Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos could potentially provide the contract offer that could keep Freddie Freeman in Atlanta for many years to come. But he has at least already offered to have an ice cream machine delivered to Freeman’s.
“We added an ice cream machine to the clubhouse during the year,” Anthopoulos said. “Freddie Freeman really wanted it, so we added sweet serve [machine]. I told him, I think in June we were texting each other at one point, and I said, “If we win this division, I’ll have one delivered to you.” I said to him today: ‘Do you want it? We will have it delivered tomorrow.
Well, Freeman declined the generous offer. But the first-baseman veteran soaked up the other splendours of a division victory after the Braves clinched a fourth straight National League East title with a 5-3 victory over the Phillies Thursday night at Truist Park.
“Four in a row is tough,” Freeman said. “I can’t imagine those ’90s teams and how they did it all. It’s a great feeling. It’s right there with 2018 for me. This year has had so many ups and downs and so much could have derailed the season. “
The Braves have now won six straight games with back-to-back three-game sweeps from the Padres and Phillies. They will host the Mets for three games this weekend. Atlanta is stranded as the NL’s No.3 seed against the second-seeded Brewers, who will host NLDS Game 1 Friday October 8 on TBS.
“The most important thing is to get here and hit your ticket,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Who knows what’s going to happen after all of this. But, we’re going to have the opportunity to do something really good.
No one expected the Braves to win the first of their four straight division titles in 2018, making it just four seasons in what was a massive rebuild. But fewer people expected Atlanta to win this year, especially after Ronald Acuña Jr. underwent right knee surgery that ended the season on July 10.
Marcell Ozuna did not play after his domestic violence arrest in late May and potential ace Mike Soroka has never pitched a pitch this year. But just before veteran wide receiver Travis d’Arnaud and top young starter Ian Anderson end long stints on the injured list in August, Anthopoulos rebuilt his outfield by acquiring Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario ahead of date. July 30 trade limit.
“I feel like I’ve never been in a season that has never had as much adversity as this one,” said the Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. “But I think that’s a good characteristic for this team, to be able to fight and fight for everything. I feel like we’ve won everything we’ve got this year.
Long before the Braves soaked themselves in champagne (then smoked celebratory cigars as some fans stood in the stands almost an hour after Will Smith threw Thursday’s final pitch), Soler stirred the crowd. hometown with a monstrous 465-foot home run against Kyle Gibson. The powerful outfielder has completed 13 of his 26 home runs since acquiring the Royals.
While Soler and Adam Duvall improved the roster’s power supply, Austin Riley powered it throughout his 33-homer season. Riley heard MVP chants from the energized home crowd after punching a fourth inning homerun against Gibson.
“It was pretty special,” Riley said. “Through all the struggles I’ve been through [the past two seasons], I finally see some consistency. It was a pretty sweet moment.
Riley and Freeman will both finish in the top 10 in the National League MVP poll. You could also make a case for Duvall and Ozzie Albies, the energetic second baseman who is tied for the National League lead with 75 more hits. His most recent was a decisive RBI triple in the two-run fifth that gave the Braves the cushion they needed to beat Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homerun to Ian Anderson and JT Realmuto’s solo shot. in the eighth against Luke Jackson.
Charlie Morton started that streak with a seven scoreless innings against the Phillies and Fried lowered his best second-half ERA to 1.74 with seven strong innings on Wednesday. Anderson further boosted hope for the Atlanta rotation by shutting out the Phillies until McCutchen scored a homerun in the seventh.
After losing to the Brewers on August 1, the Braves were in third place and five games away from first place. They then swept a three-game streak in St. Louis to start a streak in which they won 16 of 18 games, including nine in a row against the Nationals, Marlins and Orioles from Aug. 13-22.
The Braves took a five-game lead on August 27, but saw that advantage drop to just 1 1/2 games in early September. They regained the distance with a four-game lead on September 12, but only missed a half-game lead over the Phillies after all games were played on September 18.
By winning 10 of the 11 games that followed, the Braves gradually took control of the divisional race. But when did Anthopoulos really become confident his team would win that fourth consecutive division crown?
“Last night I was not kidding,” Anthopoulos said. “After [Wednesday] night was the first time I felt we had a very good chance of getting there.