This is all happening a little faster than we expected: the Atlanta Braves took over the top spot in the National League East Wednesday night.
Atlanta’s 7-0 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field earned the Braves sole possession of the division heading into Thursday’s series finale. It’s the latest the Braves have been in first place in the NL East since July 20, 2014, which was, for all intents and purposes, the day before Atlanta’s rebuild officially began.
The Braves were dominant in Wednesday night’s victory, as starting pitcher Sean Newcomb was brilliant in seven scoreless innings. The Mets didn’t get a baserunner past second base, and when New York starting pitcher Jacob deGrom left the game with a hyperextended elbow after throwing four innings, the Braves were able to pull away by bashing the Mets’ bullpen all over the field.
For Braves fans, this ascent into first place is a bit ahead of schedule; the Mets and Washington Nationals were expected to be the primary contenders for the division title, while the Braves and Philadelphia Phillies were coming out of their respective rebuilds. Instead, the Nats have struggled to a 14-16 record through Tuesday and the Phillies have gone an impressive 16-13 after a slow 1-4 start.
The Braves will return home for a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants Friday night, and if they can defeat the Mets again Thursday afternoon, they’ll head back to Atlanta with a game and a half lead on the rest of the division.Follow @Sean_Breslin