Braves face Reds in playoffs; Red Sox win Roenicke finale

Atlanta Braves’ Marcell Ozuna runs the bases on a home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)

ATLANTA (AP) — Jackie Bradley Jr. homered and made a leaping catch as the last-place Boston Red Sox won their final game under manager Ron Roenicke, beating the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves 9-1 Sunday.

The NL East champion Braves wound up as the No. 2 seed and will face Cincinnati in a best-of-three playoff series starting Wednesday. All games will be played in Atlanta.

Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. was scratched with left wrist irritation and right-handed reliever Chris Martin exited with right groin discomfort.

Renewed soreness in Acuña’s wrist is cause for concern. He was on the 10-day injured list due to soreness in the same wrist from Aug. 12-25.

Braves manager Brian Snitker said he is confident Acuña will play Wednesday.

“That wrist thing was biting a little bit,” Snitker said. “Not bad. He wanted to play. He said it was a little sore so there was no reason for him to play. He can get treatment today, tomorrow and the next day and be ready to go.”

Snitker said Martin’s status is day to day.

Bradley had three hits, including a go-ahead home run, and made another superb play in center field.

The Red Sox announced before the final regular-season game that Roenicke will not return as manager next season. Boston won two of three from the Braves and finished 24-36.

Bradley, heading toward free agency, gave Boston a 2-1 lead with his fourth-inning homer to left-center off Will Smith (2-1).

J.D. Martinez had a two-run homer, the biggest hit in Boston’s five-run seventh off Luke Jackson. Xander Bogaerts and Jonathan Arauz also homered. Arauz had three hits and drove in three runs.

Bogaerts said he decided before the game he wanted to hit a homer for Roenicke and then give the manager a “big hug before I go to all the other guys.”

“Everything just happened so quick and I kind of just forgot,” Bogaerts said. “But I told myself I was going to try to hit one for him and win this game for him.”

Roenicke said managing his last game with the Red Sox “was fine. It’s still concentrate on what I had to do.”

He said the postgame “was a little tough in the clubhouse. Some guys spoke. So that was a little tough, a little emotional.”

Nick Pivetta (2-0) allowed one run on four hits and two walks in five innings.

Marcell Ozuna hit a 468-foot homer, his NL-leading 18th, off Pivetta in the first. Ozuna also led the NL with 56 RBIs and hit .338.

Freddie Freeman (.341) and Ozuna finished second and third, respectively, behind NL batting champion Juan Soto (.351) of Washington.

Bryse Wilson gave up one run on five hits in three innings for Atlanta. He could work out of the bullpen in the wild-card series, when only three starters will be used. The right-hander could be considered as a No. 4 starter if the Braves advance past the wild-card round.

Bradley’s leaping catch came near the 400-foot mark in center field of a long drive hit by Ozzie Albies in the third. Bradley’s glove was near the yellow line atop the wall as he made the grab before hitting the wall and falling to the warning track.

The Red Sox were 84-78 and third in the AL East last year.

The Braves (35-25) won their third straight division title under Snitker.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: LHP Max Fried (sore ankle) threw on the mound before the game and is expected to be ready for Wednesday’s Game 1 of the wild-card series. Fried also tested his ankle by fielding grounders and throwing to first. … 3B Austin Riley (sore quadriceps) took some swings from Fried as he sat out for the second straight day.

AUDITION FOR SANDOVAL

Pablo Sandoval started at third base and had two walks after his contract was selected from the Braves’ alternate training site. Atlanta signed Sandoval, 34, to a minor league deal on Sept. 14. He was released by the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 10.

Sunday’s start was an audition for a bench spot in the postseason. It does not appear that decision has been made.

Snitker said Sandoval “was moving around good. He’s aggressive, I know that. It was good to put him in the clubhouse with everybody. … If we decide to put him on the roster, it was good to see him right there.”

Referring to Sandoval’s postseason history, Snitker said Sandoval would add “a wealth of experience in what we’re getting ready to do.”

To make room for Sandoval, LHP Tucker Davidson was optioned to the alternate training site and LHP Cole Hamels (left shoulder fatigue) was moved to the 45-day IL.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: Boston will open its 2021 spring training game schedule on Feb. 26 against Northeastern University in Fort Myers, Florida.

Braves: Fried is expected to start when the Braves open their wild-card playoff series on Wednesday.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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