The Atlanta Braves had an eventful night on Saturday as they faced the Washington Nationals on the final Saturday of the 2023 season. It was one to remember.
Ozuna's homer earns Strider his 20th win of the season
The Braves ended up besting the Nats 5-3 after Spencer Strider got off to a bit of a rough start. Strider allowed 3 earned runs in the first inning but also acquired 3 strikeouts in the inning. The third strikeout of that inning was a historic one.
Strider was able to get himself together and complete five innings allowing just the 3 ER on 6 hits. He ended up striking out 7 batters and walking 3 of them. His final ERA is 3.86 and thanks to a mammoth 3-run homer from Marcell Ozuna in the 5th inning, Strider earned his 20th win of the season.
Atlanta looks to earn their 105th win of the season on Sunday as they close out the season with Dylan Dodd getting the call and staring the season finale.
Strider and Acuna set more records
Two more individual franchise records were broken Saturday as Ronald Acuna stole his 73rd base of the season making him the modern-day leader for stolen bases in a single season. This broke a record held by Otis Nixon since the 1991 season.
Spencer Strider broke John Smoltz’s franchise record for most strikeouts in a single season. Strider needed just 3 to break the record and ended up getting 7 during Saturday's game. He now stands alone with 281 strikeouts in 2023. John Smoltz even sent a message congratulating Strider on the feat and stated he would likely break his own record in the years to come.
The one record left for Atlanta to break is the MLB team home run record. The Braves need just two more homers to tie the record held by the 2019 Minnesota Twins and three more to top that record. The rate this team can rattle off home runs makes this very doable during the final game of the season.
It isn't the end of the world if they don't reach this but it would be incredible to see them achieve this feat. They have 9 batters who can go deep at any moment so it certainly can happen easily. You definitely want to tune in just to see if they reach the milestone.
Two Highlights from Saturday's Game
We wanted to shed a quick spotlight on Pierce Johnson who had a great inning of relief on Saturday as he struck out the side. Johnson has been an incredible pick-up for the Atlanta Braves. His breaking ball was absolutely filthy on Saturday night.
Ozzie Albies also made an incredible play on Saturday on a ball hit up the middle. He made a quick decision to throw home, cut off the runner, and get the final out of the 8th inning to preserve the Braves 5-3 lead.
That play is certainly top 10 worthy.
Around the League
The MLB playoffs are rapidly approaching us and it has been chaos the last week and a half with the Wild Card race. Just a few weeks ago it seemed like everything was lined up and predictable. However, with the Chicago Cubs' recent collapse, things have changed a bit.
The Cubs were eliminated from contention on Saturday as the Marlins won yet another game. The Phillies and Marlins are now set to face off as the 4 and 5 seeds. The winner of that series would face the Braves in the NLDS.
The Diamondbacks are now the 6 seed and the Brewers are the 3 seed as the NL Central Division winners. The winner of that series would square off with the Dodgers. The only thing uncertain at the moment is the 5 and 6 seeds due to the Marlins and D-Backs being close in record.
If the Marlins win on Sunday, they will remain the 5 seed. However, if they lose and Arizona wins their game, Miami would become the 6 seed and face the Brewers. Arizona would then be tasked with facing off with the Phillies.
It certainly will be an exciting final day of the regular season and the Braves will be pushing for a record while others jockey for position in the playoffs. 2023 has been one of the most exciting seasons to cover in recent memory. I imagine the playoffs will provide even more iconic moments to remember. Hopefully, that includes a World Series title returning to Atlanta.