Things couldn't be any different this year.
After clinching a postseason berth on Tuesday and winning again on Wednesday, the Braves will go for a three-game sweep of the Marlins on Thursday night. Atlanta has an NL East-best 16-7 record this month, allowing the club to keep its sights set on making a run at the division title.
The Braves trail the Nationals by four games with seven remaining.
"We can go out now and play a lot more relaxed now that we've got a chance to play a postseason game," said veteran third baseman Chipper Jones. "We got a great opportunity to go out and take it a step further. We're not out of the division yet. Until they close us out, we're going to keep fighting for that top spot."
In order to continue that push and extend their winning streak to five games Thursday, the Braves will need right-hander Tommy Hanson to rediscover his early-season success.
Hanson is 0-4 with a 5.06 ERA over his last seven starts and hasn't earned a victory since July 30, when he improved to 12-5. In his latest outing, Hanson was tagged for five runs over 5 1/3 innings and served up three home runs in a loss to the Phillies.
"I feel like I'm battling my [butt] off to help my teammates out and help my team win," Hanson said. "As of right now, I'm not doing a very good job. ... I'm not pulling my weight around here right now." The Marlins will counter with rookie Jacob Turner, whom they acquired in the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers.
Turner is 1-3 with a 4.03 ERA in five starts since his arrival in Miami. The 21-year-old right-hander has shown improvement of late, going 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in his last three outings.
"I think Turner is more mature [on the mound] than [fellow rookie Nathan] Eovaldi," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I think he's a better pitcher right now. I think he knows what he's doing on the mound. Right now, they're going about the process. They've never pitched this late. Hopefully, that makes him a little stronger, and a little better."
Marlins: Stanton likely out until Friday
Though Giancarlo Stanton originally hoped to be back in the lineup Wednesday or Thursday at the latest, Guillen said he doesn't expect the slugger to return until at least Friday, when the Marlins open a home series against the Phillies.
Stanton, who took batting practice on Wednesday, hasn't played since Sept. 16 because of a strained left intercostal muscle.
"We hope he plays the first game back in Miami," Guillen said. "I don't think he should be ready [Thursday]."
Braves: Bourn hopes to return Thursday
Michael Bourn missed his third straight game with a jammed left thumb Wednesday, but manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes to have the outfielder back in the lineup for Thursday's series finale.
Bourn hasn't played since Saturday, when he jammed his thumb sliding into second base. He took some swings indoors Wednesday while wearing a thumb guard, but still experienced some discomfort.
"He's progressing well," Gonzalez said prior to Wednesday's victory. "I said, 'Let's just take another day. Hopefully today will get you over the hump and we'll get you [back Thursday].'"
Carlos Lee and Jose Reyes are each 8-for-18 (.444) in their careers against Hanson.
The Braves are 13-4 against the Marlins this season and 35-17 in the head-to-head series since the start of the 2010 campaign.