Braves lose, Nationals clinch first National League East title

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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.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.