ATLANTA – Freddie Freeman stood soaked in champagne with music blaring and his teammates jamming in celebration.
This was just how the longtime star first baseman envisioned it when the Atlanta Braves began spring training seven months ago.
“You could tell after the first week of workouts that we had the talent to do something special,” Freeman said. “Obviously we still needed to put it together. But this is what happens. You win the division after three straight 90-loss seasons.”
The Braves capped a most surprising season by clinching their first NL East crown since 2013, with Mike Foltynewicz taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.
A year after going 70-92, manager Brian Snitker and his Baby Braves surged back into the playoffs. A loud crowd at SunTrust Park joined the party when rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. caught a flyball for the final out, setting off another round of the Tomahawk Chop and a big celebration on the field.
“When we started this series, we knew it was within our grasp,” Snitker said. “We knew we couldn’t lose track of today. I know I’m redundant saying that all the time, but I felt we just needed to stay current and worry about today’s game. These guys have done an unbelievable job of that this year.”
The Braves will make their first postseason appearance since 2013 on Oct. 4 in the NL Division Series.
Yankees 3, Orioles 2 (11)
In New York, Aaron Hicks and the Yankees reached the playoffs the same way they played the regular season: They got hurt, stood up and kept on going.
Hicks doubled home the winning run in the 11th inning, just after a foul ball to his ankle sent him sprawling to the dirt face-first in pain, and the Yankees clinched an AL wild card for the second straight year with a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
“It hurts. It’s going to be sore tomorrow, that’s for sure,” Hicks said after limping to his locker, his left ankle taped. “I think after I hit the ball, it was kind of all adrenaline.”
In Other Games
Athletics 3, Twins 2
Blue Jays 5, Rays 2
Astros 10, Angels 5
Mariners 13, Rangers 0
Indians 5, Red Sox 4
Tigers 5, Royals 4
Marlins 5, Reds 1
Cubs 8, White Sox 3
Pirates 3, Brewers 0
Cardinals 5, Giants 4
Dodgers 7, Padres 2
Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 1
Nationals 6, Mets 0