It was too little, too late for the Atlanta Braves (96-66) as a 12-5 win against the Philadelphia Phillies (73-88) Sunday afternoon did seal the deal on the season ending on a positive note, but also saw them lose the race for home field advantage in the MLB playoffs.
Losing the lead for the best record in the National League after falling to Philadelphia Saturday, Atlanta only played a partial role in their fate going into Sunday’s game, needing a win and a St. Louis Cardinals loss in order to claim home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Atlanta got things underway early in Sunday’s game with starting pitcher Julio Teheran (13-8, 3.20 ERA), throwing a perfect 8-pitch first inning.
Teheran went 3-1 in his previous four starts, with his most recent win coming last Sunday on the road against the Chicago Cubs, when the Braves claimed the National League East Division title.
The Atlanta offense followed suit in the bottom half of the inning rallying to go up 3-0 after a Freddie Freeman single to right field scored Jason Heyward, and a two-run home run by rookie outfielder Evan Gattis, his 21st of the season.
(Gattis finishes the season ranked 1st in RBI (66), 2nd in HR (21), 3rd in slugging (.477) and 4th in extra base hits (42) amongst all rookies in the MLB.)
Phillies pitcher Zach Miner (0-1, 4.40 ERA) only lasted 61 pitches, 2.1 innings, giving up five runs on seven hits.
Miner, who generally makes relief appearances, recently earned two starts in the past two weeks. The former Brave’s previous outing against Atlanta saw him pitch 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Before Phillies first basemen Kevin Frandsen’s single to centerfield in the fourth inning finally put them on the board, left fielder Domonic Brown, an Atlanta native, also contributed with a fourth inning single that helped bring the game to 5-4.
Brown was drafted by Philadelphia in the 20th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft after his tenure at Redan High School in Stone Mountain.
From the bottom of the third inning until the eighth, Atlanta proceeded to increase the run differential.
The rally included shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ RBI double, Jose Constanza singling to center, scoring Gerald Laird and Simmons and a two-run single by Elliot Johnson.
Johnson’s five RBI gave the outfielder a new career high.
Although the Braves managed to pull through the victory, they failed to catch the Cardinals, who won their final game 4-0 at home over the Chicago Cubs.
Next for Atlanta will be the Los Angeles Dodgers, the National League West Champs.
The Braves will still have home field advantage for Games 1, 2, and 5 (if necessary) of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers, with Game One being held Thursday, October 3 (Time TBA) at Turner Field.
Atlanta won the season series against Los Angeles 5-2.