Acuña reaches 40-70 as Braves beat Cubs in extras to secure #1 seed in NL
ATLANTA, Ga. (WTVY) - The Atlanta Braves have checked off one more major team achievement for their impressive 2023 season, while their MVP-candidate star made baseball history with his own statistical milestone.
The Braves (102-56) won a tightly-contested extra innings affair on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs (82-76) by a final of 6-5, the second straight night the boys from Wrigley took the Braves to the brink of defeat after the Braves came back from a 6-0 deficit to defeat Chicago 7-6 on Tuesday.
The game stayed back and forth throughout the night between the two ball clubs, with the Braves taking the initial 1-0 lead with a home run to right center by Ozzie Albies in the bottom of the 1st. The Cubs tied it up the next inning after a passed ball, and added two more runs in the 3rd from long balls by Mike Tauchman and Ian Happ to give themselves a 3-1 lead.
That 2-run lead would stick for the Cubbies until the 7th, when an error on a potential double play got the Braves back within a score. That would then turn into a tie ball game the next inning after an RBI single by Albies brought Ronald Acuña Jr. in to score, this coming after Acuña recorded his 69th stolen base of the season. Chicago did respond with an RBI single of their own in the top of the 9th from Yan Gomes brought Dansby Swanson home to make it 4-3, but a clutch one-out home run from Marcell Ozuna lifted the Braves up and into extra innings.
A sac-fly for Happ brought Tauchman in for Chicago in the top of the 10th to make it 5-4, but the bottom of the 10th is where things would finish up. A one-out RBI single from Acuña brought Kevin Pillar in to score, with Acuña following this up one pitch later with a successful stolen base, making him the first player in Major League Baseball history to record 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a single season.
The ultimate encore then came on the very next pitch, as Ozzie Albies sent the ball to the right field gap and brought Acuña in to score for the second time in the last three innings to walk it off for Atlanta.
With the win, thanks to tiebreakers owned by the ball club, the Braves has secured the #1 seed in the National League heading into the postseason. Atlanta had already secured their postseason ticket on September 10 after a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, following that up three nights later on September 13 when beat the Philadelphia Phillies to lock in their sixth straight NL East division crown.
Atlanta will wrap up their series with the Cubs on Thursday before their final series of the regular season starting Friday against the Washington Nationals. The Braves first scheduled playoff game is set for October 7 in the National League Divisional Series, with their opponent to be determined based on who comes out of the Wild Card Round.
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