PHILADELPHIA — The Atlanta Braves began Tuesday with 90 wins.

Their lineup features 21-year-old Ronald Acuna Jr., the 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, in center field. Their middle infield of Ozzie Albies, 22, and Dansby Swanson, 25, is one of the NL’s best.

First baseman Freddie Freeman is in the prime of his career at 29. He began the day leading the major leagues with 116 RBIs.

Atlanta also boasts a host of young pitchers, including 27-year-Mike Foltynewicz, who shut the Phillies down in Atlanta’s 7-2 win over Philadelphia on Monday night.

It’s clear the Braves aren’t fading from the scene any time soon.

That’s a problem for the Phillies, who must figure out a way to one day surpass Atlanta to have any chance of winning the NL East.

Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper said the Braves play with enthusiasm.

“They take the extra bag,” he said. “They work hard. They play hard. They play really good defense. Their pitching is pretty dang good out of that bullpen. As a group, they come to play every single day, and I think you can learn from a group like that.”

The Phillies and Braves were scheduled to play the second of a four-game series Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Another talented Braves youngster — 25-year-old Max Fried (16-4 with a 3.86 ERA) — was scheduled to pitch for Atlanta.

Philadelphia (74-69) began Tuesday three games behind the Chicago Cubs in the race for the second NL wild card.

The Phillies’ record against the Braves is a big reason why Philadelphia probably will miss the postseason for the eighth straight year.

The Phillies opened the season with three straight wins against Atlanta.

But since then, the Braves have dominated Philadelphia, winning seven of the last nine games between them through Monday. Atlanta had outscored Philadelphia 85-50 in those contests.

“The Braves are a really good offensive club,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “They’ve had success against our pitchers because they’re good at baseball.”

Philadelphia began Tuesday with 19 games left in the season, six of those contests against the Braves.

“They’re the best in our division,” Harper said. “They go out and play their game every single night. I think they’re hitting on all cylinders right now, and I think they have all year.”

Now the question is, can the Phillies ever catch the Braves?

“I think as a club we just have to play better, be better as a team, and just keep going,” Harper said. “If we get into that wild-card game, after that, nothing else matters.”

Can't get enough High School sports? Get the latest scores, game highlights and analysis delivered to your inbox each week

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Contact: 609-272-7209

MMcGarry@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

Staff Writer

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Load comments