Braves beat Marlins 2-1, clinch 5th straight NL East title

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins
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MIAMI – William Contreras drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single in the fifth and the Atlanta Braves clinched their fifth consecutive NL East title by defeating the Miami Marlins 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Atlanta, the defending World Series champion, earned a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed in the NL, behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Braves were 10 1/2 games behind the New York Mets at the start of June and lost four of five to New York in early August. After sweeping the Mets over the weekend to take the division lead, Atlanta entered the series needing a win or a Mets loss to clinch the division crown.

The Marlins delayed Atlanta’s celebration Monday with a 4-0 win. And the Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Tuesday evening in the first game of a doubleheader, leaving Atlanta in control of its fate in front of a large Braves crowd at loanDepot Park.

Kenley Jansen recorded his 41st save, working a perfect ninth to seal the win.

Starter Jake Odorizzi (6-6) allowed one run in five innings. He struck out six, and gave up only two hits, including a home run by Jesus Sanchez in the fourth.

Reliever A.J. Minter escaped Miami’s threat in the eighth. Jon Berti hit a one-out double then advanced to third after stealing his 41st base of the season. Bryan De La Cruz and Avisail Garcia walked to load the bases, but Nick Fortes, pinch hitting for Sanchez, popped out to end the inning.

The Braves did not take advantage of many chances at the plate to stretch their lead, but their pitchers held the Marlins to four hits.

Collin McHugh and Raisel Iglesias pitched scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh in relief of Odorizzi.

Ronald Acuna Jr hit a two-out single in the top of the second, scoring Orlando Arcia and giving the Braves a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, Sanchez sent Odorizzi’s first pitch over the right field wall to tie the game.

Miami starter Braxton Garrett (3-7) was pulled in the fifth after Contreras hit a two-out infield single, which scored Travis d'Arnaud and allowed Atlanta to retake the lead. Contreras had two hits and an RBI.

Garrett allowed six hits, two runs, walked five and struck out seven.

The Braves, one year after winning their first World Series title since 1995, are playoff bound without All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, who signed with the Dodgers in March as a free agent.

Atlanta also has 100 wins for the first time since 2003 (101-61). The Braves finished 88-73 in the regular season last year.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Michael Harris II notched Atlanta’s first sacrifice bunt of the season in the fourth inning to advance Arcia to second and Contreras to third.

As 160 games went by, it looked like the Braves might be the first team in MLB history to complete a full season without bunting.

The Braves did not score off it, even after the Marlins intentionally walked Acuna in the next at bat to load the bases. Dansby Swanson struck out to end the inning.

ALCANTARA WINS MARLINS MVP

Pitcher Sandy Alcantara was named Miami’s Most Valuable Player, as voted by members of the South Florida chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Alcantara, who has been in Cy Young contention all season, leads the majors with 228 2/3 innings and has pitched six complete games.

BRAVE OF THE YEAR

Third baseman Austin Riley is the repeat winner of Brave of the Year in voting by the Atlanta Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, edging out shortstop Dansby Swanson and rookie center fielder Michael Harris II.

Riley is the eighth player to be named Brave of the Year in consecutive seasons since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966. The others are Phil Niekro, Dale Murphy, Terry Pendleton, Greg Maddux, Chipper Jones, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman.

TRAINERS ROOM

Marlins: Placed RHP Edward Cabrera on the 15-day IL with a right ankle sprain.

UP NEXT

Neither team has announced their starters for Wednesday’s series finale.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.