Dansby Swanson’s late-inning heroics lift the Atlanta Braves to victory.

Dansby Swanson didn’t care that his Atlanta Braves had no business winning on Monday night.

Atlanta was outplayed the entire evening by the division rival Washington Nationals. Touki Toussaint struggled in his start, allowing four earned runs over three innings while walking a staggering six batters. Though Huascar Ynoa pitched well in his three innings of relief, it wasn’t the best of outings for Grant Dayton or Shane Greene out of the Atlanta bullpen either.

Down 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Atlanta never said die. Outfielder Nick Markakis was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He was then driven home by fellow outfielder Adam Duvall on a two-run blast to cut the Atlanta deficit to one. Third baseman Johan Camargo singled, but a pair of outs by Adeiny Hechavarria and Ender Inciarte left the Braves down to their final out.

Swanson would then crush Daniel Hudson‘s offering to deep centerfield, scoring Charlie Culberson who came in as a pinch runner for Camargo. Somehow, someway, the Braves shocked their division rival by ruining Washington’s night in walk-off fashion, 7-6. This was the first career walk-off home run of Swanson’s career, and it could not have come at a more perfect opportunity.

Dansby Swanson ripped the Washington Nationals’ heart out with one swing.

No matter when they happen, walk-off victories are always a big deal for the winning team. It doesn’t matter if the game is tied up or you have to overcome a sizable deficit like the Braves did Monday night. You can never have enough walk-offs happen for the team you choose to root for. But should you be on the losing end of one, it can have lingering consequences for days on end.

Washington should have won this series opener. The Nationals made better decisions at the plate and led for the entire ball game. Though they weren’t perfect, which allowed the Braves to stick around until the final frame, this was the most crushing part of this defeat for Washington. They had the Braves beat and they let them steal a game from them Atlanta had no business winning.

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Atlanta improves to 14-10 and now takes over possession of first place in the National League East following the Miami Marlins’ blowout loss to the New York Mets. Washington falls to 8-12 on the year and wouldn’t qualify for the eight-team postseason field in the National League if the season ended today. While every loss this season counts for 2.7, this one feels like double that.

The Braves are far from a perfect team, but they keep finding ways to win out of sheer will power.

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