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september-baseball-at-its-finest | August | 2007 Articles

2007 Archives

September Baseball at its Finest

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This next stretch in the Braves schedule is what September baseball is all about. Bobby Cox and the Braves find themselves 4.5 back of the Mets in the East and 5 back in the wild card with one month of the schedule left to be played. This is really a make or break stretch for the Braves who start an 18-game stretch against division rivals and play 21 of their last 28 games in the division. A good month could spring the Braves to the top and a bad month leaves them at home come October for the second straight year. The schedule for the rest of the season breaks down like this: Aug 31st-Sep 2nd: 3 vs Mets Sep 3rd-Sep 5th: 3 vs Phillies Sep 7th-Sep 9th: 3 vs Nationals Sep 10th-Sep 12th: 3 @ Mets Sep 14th- Sep 16th: 3 @ Nationals Sep 17t-Sep 19th: 3 vs Marlins Sep 20th-Sep 23rd: 4 vs Brewers Sep 25th-Sep 27th: 3 @ Phillies Sep 28th-Sep 30th: 3 @ Astros It looks like a tough schedule, but is this really a blessing in disguise for the Braves? The Braves aren't all that close right now but still within striking distance. Playing so many times against the teams ahead of them gives the Braves not only a chance to win, but to make sure the teams ahead of them lose. This is a sprint to the finish line and a chance at the playoffs in this homestretch. Basically everything has to be working to make up the distance and needless to say, that hasn't been happening lately. Andruw and McCann have both been mashing lately. That was a key to the season and it is certainly a key to keep their hitting going. The big guys that need to snap out of slumps are Francoeur and KJ. If this offense is hitting on all cylinders it is unmatched in the National League and can make the pitching staff's job very easy. The bullpen, which had been plaguing the Braves has seen a turn for the better since the departure of Bob Wickman. Rafael Soriano seems much more content and comfortable in the closer's role, logging 6.1 straight scoreless innings, allowing only four hits, no walks, and striking out seven during that span. Both Acosta and Ascanio have provided effective power arms out of the pen as well and we should see some even better talent in the September call-ups. The big question is still going to be starting pitching though. Chuck James is returning in this upcoming series and will likely force Jo-Jo Reyes (who has been devastating against lefties) to the pen after Lance Cormier's strong start last time out. With a rotation that can't pitch a ton of innings, it is going to be helpful to have extra arms in the pen, but they still need to keep Atlanta in the ball games. The Braves have six against the Phillies, who they have won six of nine this season against, six against the Mets, who the Braves have won two out of three in every series against them, and aside from that play bottom-dwellers and a team that is scuffling big time in the Brewers. Remember though that this team has had problems beating the bad teams and giving up games to a team like the Nationals is not an option right now.
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