Spencer Strider dominates as Braves clinch NL East

MLB: JUN 08 Mets at Braves

Every time Spencer Strider faces the Phillies at Citizens Bank Ballpark, the scars from last season will be brought up, but he put those demons to bed with a dominant performance tonight, as the Braves clinched their sixth straight NL East title on the turf of the same division rivals that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago.

Baseball can be poetic, and tonight was one of those moments.

Austin Riley got the party started with a two-run moonshot to dead centerfield that traveled nearly 450 feet off the bat.

Spencer Strider would find trouble in the first inning, however. A couple of walks set things up for Bryson Stott, who singled to cut the Braves lead in half. Strider labored, throwing well over 30 pitches, but he limited the damage, and the rest of the game would prove to be a breeze.

The Phillies didn’t get their next baserunner until the fourth inning. Meanwhile, the Braves added to their lead with a run apiece in the third and fourth inning. Strider was again perfect in the fifth before allowing another hit in the sixth, but it would lead to nothing. At 98 pitches, it looked like his night was over, but Brian Snitker sent him out for one more inning for good measure.

Strider would get Brandon Marsh to strikeout to start the seventh. Nick Castellanos would then single, but again, Strider had all of the answers. Garrett Stubbs would follow with a popout to second, and Johan Rojas struck out to finish the inning, capping of a Cy Young caliber performance for Spencer Strider.

Unlike the previous three games in this series, there were no late game heroics from the Phillies in this one. Brad Hand, the hero from last night’s extra innings victory, set Philadelphia down in order. Kirby Yates then came on in the ninth and did the same, clinching the Braves sixth straight NL East title with 16 games left to play.

The Braves have been doubted in the preseason, and this year was no different. The NL East is one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out, but the crown has not changed hands. From start to finish, the Braves have been the best team in the league. It’s another box checked, but for this group, nothing will feel accomplished until they are holding up the Commissioner’s Trophy six weeks from now.

Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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