Josh Hamilton hopes to return in “two to three weeks”

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Buster Olney of ESPN.com hinted in his column this morning that Josh Hamilton could be back before the end of the month, but now we have it directly from the horse’s mouth.

Hamilton told Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com earlier today that he hopes to be back with the Rangers in “two to three weeks.”

“I haven’t had any pain,” Hamilton said. “Each day I come back, I want to be sore from doing exercises and things like that with no pain and that’s what it’s been so far. All my strength’s back.”

Hamilton, who suffered a fractured right humerus on April 12, has swung a fungo bat each of the last three days and took 125 swings off a tee this afternoon. He actually wanted to use a real bat for the second half of his drills, but the Rangers put the kibosh on that. It will likely be a couple days before he takes that step.

The Rangers originally estimated that Hamilton would be sidelined for approximately 6-8 weeks with the injury, so it looks like he could meet that low end of that timeline.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.