The Atlanta Braves are officially out of the running for the National League East crown following their 2-1 loss on Monday night. The club recorded just two hits off Jeff Locke and the Pirates bullpen. Paul Maholm was solid for seven innings, and it was a solo homer to Starling Marte in the fifth inning that plated the game-winning run.
The Bravos losing tonight wasn't the worst thing that could happen. The team could use a day or two to recover before the playoffs arrive, and that wasn't going to happen as long as the division title was up for grabs. Now, Fredi Gonzalez can sit nearly all of his starters on Tuesday and play them a couple of innings Wednesday before pulling them in favor of backups. Atlanta cannot improve their seed or standing in the playoffs, so going full-strength at this point would be kind of silly.
Congratulations to the Nationals is in order. For a team no one picked higher than third or fourth this season, they've been top dog in the division since June or so. It was quite a run for Davey Johnson, Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez and Co.
It's officially time to start looking forward to the playoffs, Braves Country. Get ready. It might be over by Friday night.