PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis and the NL East champion Atlanta Braves are set to open the playoffs on the road.
All they need is an NL West champion to play.
Needing at least a win to have a shot at home field in the NLDS, the Braves lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 3-1 on Sunday.
The Braves needed a win and a loss by both Colorado and Los Angeles to secure home-field advantage when the division series starts Thursday.
The Dodgers and Rockies both ended up winning big, setting up a one-game playoff to decide the NL West. But the Braves’ second straight loss in Philadelphia made those results inconsequential for Atlanta.
Cesar Hernandez hit a leadoff home run, and Rhys Hoskins’ RBI double in the fifth inning helped a Phillies team that was 15 games over .500 on Aug. 5 finish with 80 wins.
Losing home field was a mild disappointment to a Braves team that was a surprising, resounding success under manager Brian Snitker. The Braves had lost 90-plus games in three straight seasons in a rebuild that was expected to see them need at least another season to contend for a playoff spot. Freeman, Nick Markakis and NL rookie of the year contender Ronald Acuna Jr. instead helped them become the first NL team to win 90 games (90-72) after three successive seasons of 90-plus losses.
“I’m happy for all the guys in there that endured all that,” Snitker said.
There’s more work ahead before they play either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Colorado Rockies. Snitker said he’ll meet with the coaching staff and other members of the organization on Monday to determine the 25-man playoff roster. Shortstop Dansby Swanson’s sore left wrist may keep him off that roster. He took some swings on Sunday and continued to receive treatment.
With or without him, the Braves are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
“It’s a good feeling what we accomplished this year; where we came from, where we started to where we are right now,” Snitker said. “There were multiple boxes we needed to check along the way here, and we did. It’s very gratifying. I’m proud of the guys in that room and how they carried themselves and showed up to play every single day.”
Markakis led the way there, playing all 162 games for the Braves, and Freeman led the NL in hits.
Kevin Gausman (10-11) took the loss in a game where the Braves used five pitchers.
Tommy Hunter (5-4) earned the win in relief for the Phillies, and Seranthony Dominguez got his 16th save to end a season where expectations soared in early August only to become unraveled in one of the bigger — but not close to the biggest — late-season collapses in team history.
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