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Braves savor NL East title

MIAMI — Two days after delivering the critical blow in the National League East race, the Atlanta Braves popped champagne and celebrated what will be considered one of the most memorable and appreciated division titles in club history.

Counted out in June and bruised again in early August, Atlanta has proven to be a resilient squad.

The Braves’ bid to defend their World Series crown was strengthened as they won a fifth straight NL East title with a 2-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday night at loanDepot Park.

“I’ve been lucky to have been part of a lot of special seasons, and this is by far my favorite,” said Braves reliever A.J. Minter, who has been on each of the past five division-winning teams.

“I know how hard it is to win and what we did this year is just the most impressive thing we’ve done.”

The Braves have won every NL East title going back to 2018, and many of their current players tasted ultimate postseason jubilation last year.

But there was plenty to celebrate as the defending World Series champs overcame the odds they had faced when they entered June trailing the Mets by 10 1/2 games, then found themselves still seven games back as late as 10 August.

“They’re are all special and they’re all hard,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker, who has won a division title in five of his six full seasons as Atlanta’s manager.

“This one is right up there, because there was a team that wanted to run away with it. (The players) didn’t get caught up in that we were behind. I told them at one time, ‘It’s not about catching the Mets, it’s about us playing our brand of baseball.’”

By sweeping the Mets over the weekend in Atlanta, the Braves gained a 10-9 win in the season series, which served as the tiebreaker in this year’s division race.

The Mets notched their 100th win by defeating the Nationals, 8-0, in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

It marks the 11th time in Major League Baseball history a 100-game winner has finished in second place dating back to the first World Series in 1903.

The most recent such team to fall short had been the 2021 Dodgers, who went 106-56 to finish a game behind the Giants in the NL West.

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