It wasn’t a total knockout, but the Braves landed enough hits on their opponent to be the champ of the meeting between the two National Leauge leaders, them and the LA Dodgers.
The Braves completed a four-game road series with the Dodgers, winning the first three games and dropping the fourth on Sunday. This is a big accomplishment for the Braves because it does three things for them:
- It pads the Braves NL lead over the number two Dodgers. The Braves started the series 4 games ahead of the Dodgers, now they are 6 games ahead.
- It shows the Braves can beat the tough Dodgers. The Braves likely could face LA again in postseason play, possibly in a battle for the World Series title in late October. Taking the winning end of this series shows the Braves can handle the red-hot Dodgers and beat them for the title.
- It makes the Braves even hotter. The Braves now have a .662 winning percentage rating, putting further distance between them and the #2 Dodgers (.618). On top of that, they are now the only team in MLB that has won 90 games so far this year.
There’s no question that the Braves are the best team in Major League Baseball right now. They lead the entire MLB in the rankings (The AL-best Baltimore Orioles are second at .625.) The Labor Day weekend series in LA helped solidify that reality. The observers get it, the fans get it, and best of all, the Braves get it, even if they are trying not to sound too cocky about it.
“It was a good series,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker to MLB.com. “I feel like our guys feel like they can play with anybody in the game.”
If (or when) the Braves do meet the Dodgers again in postseason play, this past series showed what a matchup between the two teams could look like. One example is the duel between the league’s best hitters, Ronald Acuna Jr., and the Dodgers Mookie Betts. Acuna, an MVP candidate, showed he was up to the challenge by smashing baseballs and record books. He went 6-17 with three homers (one of which was clocked at 121 mph!) a double and two stolen bases. He holds dual records of 30 homers and 60 stolen bases, the first player to score these two feats in the same season.
But Betts is no slouch ether. He leads Acuna in homers, 38-32, good for 5th place in the league. Acuna is tied at 9th place. Betts ranks 3rd in OPS with a 1.025 average, compared to Acuna’s .994 avg and #4 rank. Both obviously have hot bats.
But the Braves have the advantage of practically the whole team (not just Acuna) playing their best baseball at the right time. Matt Olson, Marcell Ozuna, Ozzie Albies, Michael Harris Jr and Orlando Arcia are all .256 in batting averages. On the pitching side, Spencer Strider, Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder and Kirby Yates are all in the 2.73 to 3.56 neighborhood, which isn’t a bad neighborhood to be in.
The Braves are looking to keep this winning momentum going as they face the St. Louis Cardinals in Truist Park this Tuesday. They then face the Pittsburgh Pirates, both three game series. They go to Philedelpia for a four game series (the first is a makeup double header) next week.