Today is the first day the Braves have been able to clinch the National League East title since 2005.
Eight long years since winning 14 in a row, and in just a few hours the boys could be hoisting a 2013 NL East Champions pennant as they soil the Nationals' clubhouse.
With just a handful of games left on the schedule, the Braves are really playing for two things: the NL East, of course, and home field advantage. Their magic number to win the division is four.
Historically, having home field advantage hasn't really mattered too much, but with this club, they absolutely need to be playing as many games at Turner Field as possible. The Braves are 52-22 at home this season, which is, by far, the best mark in the National League. Compare that to their pedestrian 37-38 mark on the road and not much more really needs to be said.
As of Tuesday, the Braves hold a 2.5-game lead over St. Louis and Pittsburgh and a 3.5-game lead over Los Angeles. The Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers all lost last night, dropping them to three, three and four games back, respectively, in the loss column.
Keep in mind, though, that Atlanta has the tiebreaker over all three teams due to head-to-head wins, so the lead for home field advantage is really 3.5 and 4.5 games.
As for the second wild card spot, the Reds are 4.5 up on the Nationals. Cincinnati isn't a threat to catch Atlanta for the best record, but there's a 50/50 shot the Braves will face them if they reach the Wild Card Playoff game. The NL Central race is going to be really fun the next 10 days or so.
Be sure to check back each morning as we update the playoff race.
Schedule for Tuesday
Braves: @ Nationals, 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
Cardinals: @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m.
Pirates: vs. Padres, 7:05 p.m.
Dodgers: @ Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m.
Reds: @ Astros, 8:10 p.m.
NL East Standings
National League Wild Card Standings
|San Diego||69||80||.463||17.5||Won 2|
|San Francisco||69||81||.460||18||Won 3|
|New York||67||82||.449||19.5||Won 2|
(updated 9.16.2013 at 11:01 PM MST)