Braves begin critical stretch with big win over the Nationals

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Entering yesterday just 1.5 games up in the NL East over the Phillies, we’ve reached the point in the season where every game has a playoff feel to it. Last night against the Nationals was no different. Washington may be jockeying for position at the cellar, but that’s even more of a reason for the Braves to keep their foot on the gas. There are only so many games left remaining against piss-poor opponents, and if Atlanta wants to win their fourth consecutive NL East crown, they must take advantage of all of them.

Following a tough road trip, the Braves will get a much-needed break as far as the schedule is concerned over the next week or so. They finish up with the Nationals at home and then stay at Truist Park for six more games — three against the Marlins and three against the Rockies. This is when the Braves will have to distance themselves a bit from the Phillies — whose schedule is among the easiest in baseball the rest of the way — because Atlanta’s final five series are a cause for concern.

Following their three-game set with the Rockies, the Braves head back out West to face the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres three times each. The Giants have the MLB’s best record; the Padres are fighting for their playoff lives, and don’t count out the Diamondbacks. Even though the snakes feature one of the worst rosters in baseball, they’ve haunted the NL East all season. The Braves then head back home for their final six games against the Mets and Phillies.

The good news is the Braves control their own destiny; the division will once again run through Atlanta to end the season. The worrisome news is that the schedule greatly favors the Phillies over the final couple of weeks, making this upcoming stretch against nine teams that are well below .500 a pivotal one. If the Braves want to win the NL East, you have to think they need to reel off six or seven wins, and they got off to a good start yesterday with a win over the Nationals.

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