April 14, 2024

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason after beating the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Thursday night, ensuring no team will win more than their 103 games.

The Baltimore Orioles can also get to 103 wins, but Atlanta owns the tiebreaker by virtue of its 2-1 head-to-head record.

“It’s huge,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said after completing the sweep of the Cubs. “Our fanbase here is electric. It’s a huge advantage for us. I’ve been on the other side where the fans get all over you. It makes for a tough night of sleep and an uncomfortable game.”

Once again, the Braves were powered by the long ball, as first baseman Matt Olson slugged his major league-leading 54th home run and drove in two runs, bringing his season total to 136 to break the franchise record set by Eddie Mathews, who drove in 135 in 1953.

“I think it’s cool,” Olson said. “I think when you’re in the middle of the season you don’t think about it too much. Maybe in the offseason, I’ll enjoy a beer over it.”

D’Arnaud added: “We were sitting in the bullpen saying Olsen needs to do this in his first at-bat. Hit a two-run homer and get it over with. It worked out that way. This organization has such a rich history, for him to have the most RBI and home runs speaks volumes of the season he’s having.”

Olson’s home run was the team’s 304th of the season, three shy of the MLB record set by the Twins in 2019.

The Braves were aided by two unearned runs, as the Cubs played poor defense all series. According to Elias, it’s the third time this season the Braves swept a series despite trailing in every game, the most such series for any team since the 2019 Astros and the most for the Braves since 1999.

Atlanta will host the opening games of the NLDS, NLCS and World Series if it continues to advance.

“That’s big for us to have home field throughout the whole playoffs,” third baseman Austin Riley said. “It’s something that we were hoping for, and fortunately we did it with time spare.”

The Braves are 51-27 at home with three games remaining at Truist Park in the regular season. They’ve also hit the most home runs of any team in its home stadium.

“Our guys played just like we were the ones fighting for that playoff spot,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of the sweep. “They got after it. I expect nothing less from this group. They understood what was at stake. That was a good club coming in here, and we played really well for those three games.”

Before the game, the Braves announced they would allow fans to attend workouts next week in preparation of the division series. The team is attempting to keep the energy high after losing in its opening round matchup with the Philadelphia Phillies last year.

“Knowing where you’re going to be, that’s a huge advantage,” Riley said.

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