The Juice: Freddie Freeman’s homer clinches Braves playoff spot, Anibal Sanchez pitches Tigers into first-place tie

David Brown
Big League Stew

The Juice is back for its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

No collapse this season: The Atlanta Braves are headed to the playoffs in Chipper Jones' final season, thanks to a game-ending home run by Freddie Freeman on Tuesday night (and all that came before it). Down a run to the Marlins in the ninth with Jones standing at third base and nobody out, Freeman connected for a two-run deep against Mike Dunn, hitting it to straight-away center for a 4-3 victory and setting off a raucous celebration at Turner Field. In 2011, Atlanta went 9-18 in September and blew a big lead in the wild-card race. Let's just say it reminded everyone what not to do this season.

[Tim Brown: Has Ozzie Guillen painted Marlins into corner?]

Olde English D(estiny): The Detroit Tigers moved back into first place in the AL Central, tied with the White Sox for the first time since Sept. 2, after beating the Royals 2-0. Anibal Sanchez, who does stuff like this every once in a while, struck out 10 in his first shutout in more than a year. Helping the Tigers out were the Cleveland Indians, who edged Chicago 4-3 after surviving a terrifying barrage of three solo home runs. Detroit made up three games in a week on the White Sox.

Nats still in their sight: Thanks to the Phillies beating the Nationals 6-3, the Braves pulled within four games of first place in the NL East. Washington and Atlanta have eight games left apiece. (Do you have a sneaking suspicion the Braves are going to the World Series? Well, I might.)

No drama in our lives: Four of the five playoff spots in the NL have been secured. Only the second wild-card spot remains, and the Cardinals lead the pack by 4 1/2 games after beating the Astros 4-0 for their fourth straight victory. The Brewers and the Dodgers, the closest wild-card pursuers, both lost. Johnny Cueto and the Reds, who already locked up the NL Central, beat Milwaukee 4-2. The Dodgers fell 2-1 at San Diego.

Rhymes with "guitarist": George Kottaras has joined Oakland Athletics folklore after his solo home run gave the A's a lead in the 10th, and they held on to beat the Rangers 3-2. Kottaras connected against Mark Lowe (instead of Joe Nathan or Mike Adams) to help keep Oakland two games up in the wild-card race. The Angels beat the Mariners 5-4 and the Tampa Bay Rays (who are three games back) beat the Red Sox 5-2, with David Price striking out 13 and getting his 19th personal victory.

Orioles and Yankees lose: Boone Logan blew a 3-1 lead (with Phil Hughes' base runners) and the Twins roared back to beat New York 5-4. The Bronx Bummers couldn't take advantage of the Orioles falling 4-0 at Toronto to Aaron Laffey and his five bullpen buddies.

[MLB Full Count: Watch live look-ins and highlights for free all season long]

* * *

Quote of the Day:

''They took the attitude last year to try and hang on. This year we took the bull by the horns. We're shooting for the stars. We're still shooting for the division until they close us out." — Larry Wayne "Chipper" Jones.

* * *

Photo of the Day: Freezing Freeman.

[More: Nelson Cruz buys fire truck for his home town in the Dominican Republic]

* * *

Three Facts for the Water Cooler

• Atlanta's Kris Medlen didn't get the victory, but the Braves won for the 22nd straight time he started a game, the longest streak since Whitey Ford and the Yankees did it in 1953 and 1950.

• In Philly's victory, rookie Darin Ruf hit his 40th home run of the season — though the first 39 came in the minors, at Class AA. It was his first major-league hit.

• The Braves have made the playoffs 12 times over the course of Jones' 19-season career (13 times if you count the cup of coffee he had as a pre-rookie in 1993).

* * *

Love baseball? Even like it a little?
Follow @AnswerDave, @bigleaguestew, @KevinKaduk on Twitter,
along with the BLS Facebook page!

Fantasy Baseball video from Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
Brooklyn Nets reveal their dancers' uniforms, which are very different
Replacement officials have been a disaster, but regular referees make mistakes, too
The Qatar Investment Authority's review of FIFA 13
Y! News: Mitt Romney lowers debate expectations

What to Read Next