The Braves have already secured the National League East title and will host the first two games of the National League Division Series at Turner Field. But there is still a lot left to gain in the final two games of the regular season.
Entering Friday, the Braves were tied with the Cardinals for the best record in the NL with home-field advantage in the playoffs on the line. Those extra home games could make a significant difference, as Atlanta boasts the best home record in the Major Leagues at 55-24. The Braves hold the tiebreaker over St. Louis with a 4-3 edge in the season series between the two teams.
Atlanta and St. Louis both won on Friday to remain in a tie, giving the Braves a magic number of two to clinch home field, opening the possibility of clinching on Saturday with a win and a Cardinals loss to the Cubs.
Kris Medlen pitched a gem Friday night, carrying a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and left-hander Mike Minor will look to pick up where Medlen left off. Minor is winless in his past five starts and has had trouble keeping the ball in the park. He's surrendered 22 home runs this season, including multiple homers in two of his past three starts.
"I thought I pitched pretty well all year and then now, I'm kind of struggling a little bit," Minor said after allowing three earned runs over seven innings in his last outing. "I'm getting by, I'm just giving up too many home runs."
Roy Halladay was originally slated to start Saturday before the Phillies ended his season early due to arm fatigue following his right shoulder surgery in May. Halladay has also been dealing with a recently diagnosed illness related to his diet.
Instead, the Phillies will start rookie right-hander Ethan Martin, who joined the team as a starter in August before moving to the bullpen. Martin is 2-4 with a 6.90 ERA in seven Major League starts. He has been stretched out more than other pitchers in the bullpen, so he could give the Phillies around three innings of work.
With Tyler Cloyd's start on Thursday, Martin's on Saturday and Zach Miner's on Sunday, the Phillies will have used fill-in starters in three of their final four games. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg stressed the importance of depth on next year's team.
"Yeah, depth," Sandberg said Thursday night. "Even starting pitching depth. To have backups at Triple-A, let alone the starting rotation. Long guys, swing men, depth in the bullpen. And depth in the Triple-A level are a need. That is very evident right now."
Phillies: Wells returns with clear vision
The Phillies activated outfielder Casper Wells from the disabled list on Friday.
Wells missed nearly a month with vision problems and had LASIK eye surgery for a second time. The surgery sharpened his vision and allowed him to stop wearing contacts, which dried out his eyes and caused problems on the field.
"The vision wasn't sharp enough for me to see without contacts and perform, so I had to wear them. It was just kind of regressing," Wells said. "Now, I don't have to wear contacts or glasses. My vision is sharp. I was seeing 20/15 on the charts. I feel like I'm seeing comfortably without a strain, so that's good."
Braves: McCann to rest until playoffs
• With the NLDS fast approaching, the Braves plan on resting catcher Brian McCann for the remaining two games of the regular season. McCann left Thursday night's game in the second inning due to tightness near his right groin muscle.
While the injury is not considered serious, manager Fredi Gonzalez said that he would prefer to take a cautious approach.
"I don't think he's going to forget how to hit or catch in seven days," Gonzalez said. "And that's a nice thing to have, too, where you have seven days of treatment and seven days of settling down. Maybe we pinch-hit him if he feels good to pinch-hit on Sunday or something, just to get an at-bat, we'll do that."
• Reed Johnson was in the starting lineup on Friday for the first time since July 25. Johnson played left field and went 0-for-3 at the plate as he continues to return from a left Achilles injury.
• Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has hit safely in 19 of his past 22 games and is batting 31-for-83 (.373) with six homers and 19 RBIs during that stretch.
• The Phillies haven't homered in nine games, their longest home-run drought since 1989.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.