MIAMI -- Although Atlanta entered Monday 5 1/2 games behind Washington in the National League East with 15 games remaining -- and zero against the Nats -- the Braves remain optimistic about their chances of winning the division.
"We certainly haven't given up on the division as of yet," Chipper Jones said. "It's going to be difficult, but I've always told these guys all along, 'Let's set our sights high and let the Wild Card be the byproduct of maybe us coming up just short in the division.'
"We want to go out and put as much pressure on the Nationals as we can."
After finishing a three-game sweep of the Nats, the Braves have done just that. Despite closing in on the division crown, the Braves are still trying to live in the moment, approaching the schedule one day at a time.
That schedule, which includes six games against the Marlins and three each against the Phillies, Mets and Pirates, comes off as less daunting than that of the Nats, whose remaining 16 games include six against the Phillies, four against the Brewers and three each against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
With Washington idle Monday, the Braves had an opportunity to gain another half-game in the standings in their opener at Marlins Park.
"We're mathematically in it, so why would we give up on it?" center fielder Michael Bourn said. "You've always got to fight until they say, 'No, you can't go no more.' [The Nats] don't have an easy schedule closing out, and we don't have one either. We're going to take it one game at a time and see where we end up at the end of the year."