Braves lose, Nationals clinch first National League East title


It didn’t happen exactly the way the Nationals would have drawn it up, but they’ll definitely take it.

The Braves fell 2-1 to the Pirates tonight, ensuring the Nationals their first-ever National League East title. The news of the Braves’ loss flashed on the scoreboard at Nationals Park after the top of the ninth inning, which was met with pandemonium in the stands and a celebration in the dugout. The Nationals ended up losing 2-0 to the Phillies, but it was almost secondary to the buzz in the air and in the dugout.

There will be playoff baseball in D.C. for the first time since 1933. As for the Braves, they will officially play in the one-game Wild Card playoff on Friday. The Cardinals currently hold a two-game lead over the Dodgers for the second Wild Card spot.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.