With an opportunity to clinch their third straight NL East title, the Braves sent Bryse Wilson to the mound in place of Cole Hamels, who was placed back on the 10-day IL after just one start and shut down for the remainder of the season.
Wilson’s had quite a forgetful 2020 after a 2019 that wasn’t much better. Entering Tuesday, he boasted an ERA of 7.04 in four games with the Braves (two starts), right around what he posted last year in Atlanta — 7.20 ERA in six games (four starts). The only difference this season is that he didn’t benefit from a minor league season to positively look back on. However, all of that went out the window on Tuesday, as Wilson delivered the best performance of his young career against the Marlins.
Wilson only went five innings, but he struck out a career-high seven batters while allowing just four baserunners (three hits and walk), and that’s all the Braves would need from him as their bats exploded once again.
That’s been the story of 2020 for Atlanta. Despite all the issues with their rotation, the sticks have put the team on their back and helped them run away with the NL East for the third consecutive season.
The offensive action began in the first when Marcell Ozuna hit a no-doubter over the left-field wall with nobody on. Ozzie Albies continued his hot hitting since returning from the IL with another homer to stretch the lead to two, but the Braves busted the doors open in the fifth. Ozuna added two more RBIs to his total with a double. Then Atlanta scored five runs in the seventh, thanks to homers from both Swanson and Freeman.
Once again, the Braves’ bullpen was nearly flawless. Josh Tomlin relieved Wilson, tossing two innings while allowing just one run. A.J. Minter pitched the eighth, and while it was one of his shakier outings, the Marlins weren’t able to cut into the Braves’ eight-run lead despite three hits. Minter’s ERA now sits at a minuscule 0.46 on the season.
The Braves bats weren’t quite done yet. Even with the game well in hand, Freeman doubled to begin the bottom half of the eighth. He finished his night 3-5, raising his average to .347 on the season. Then Marcell Ozuna followed him with his second homer of the night, giving him the NL lead at 17 on the season. His average is also up to .327 after four hits.
Jacob Webb received the honors to close the game out in the ninth with a ten-run lead, and it went about as smoothly as possible. After giving up a single to start the inning, he forced a double play and a line out to clinch the Braves third straight division title and 20th all-time — the most in MLB history.
It’s quite a feat, and it’s always lovely to once again shut up the national media outlets that continue to overlook the Braves each year. However, none of this will mean much if Atlanta cannot get the monkey off their back and finally win a playoff series for the first time since 2001. Another NL East title was expected; the real season begins in just over a week.