If the Cardinals win out, the Braves would need to win five games to force a playoff, and would need to sweep the Nationals and Phillies to win the wild card outright. If the Braves play .500 ball and split the final two series of the year, the Cardinals would need to go at least 5-2 over their final seven in order to force a playoff or win the wild card. The only problem with this is that St Louis plays the Cubs and Astros, two of the bottom four teams in the National League. Meanwhile, the Braves play a Nationals team that looks to complete a four game sweep of the Phillies tonight, and a Phillies team that always plays Atlanta tough and is in full-on playoff prep mode.
It didn't have to be this way, though. The Braves had plenty of chances to drive a dagger into St Louis' hearts this month, but couldn't do it. Three games weigh heavily on my mind where the Braves normally reliable bullpen couldn't get the job done. The first, and most crucial, loss came in St Louis, where Craig Kimbrel blew a 3-1 ninth inning lead, the first save he's blown since June. Including that game, Kimbrel has allowed five runs in his last 5 2/3 innings after not allowing any for a three month stretch. He's also allowed a pair of homers in his last two appearances after allowing just one all season.
Critical game number two: last Sunday against the Mets. After falling behind 4-1, the Braves rallied to take a 5-4 lead going into the eighth inning. Jonny Venters walked in the tying run, and allowed what would end up being the game winning single to Ruben Tejada one batter later. In a game where the team showed great moxie and was able to rally back after getting into an early hole that shouldn't have been there, the loss was a killer. Like Kimbrel, Venters has also allowed five runs in September. Unlike Kimbrel, Venters is experiencing control problems, walking eight batters in 9 1/3 innings this month.
Finally, there was the absolutely back breaking loss on Monday. Down 4-1, the Braves plated four in the seventh and took a 5-4 lead into the ninth. Kimbrel got a pair of quick outs, and got a ground ball to third for what looked like the final out of the game. But Chipper Jones lost the ball in the lights, as a final FU from the park formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium. The next batter was Omar Infante, and he homered to left to walk off on his former team. It was a devastating loss, especially coupled with the Cardinals win over the Mets later in the evening.
If the Braves win all three of those games, we're looking at a situation in DC where the team can clinch. The lead would be 4.5 games right now, and the magic number would be only two. Instead, here we are...doing a lot of scoreboard watching. It's an absolutely painful situation that conjures up memories of last season, when the Braves got into the playoffs on the season's final day after nearly every regular got hurt over the season's final two months. This year, the only players to get seriously injured were Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens. The Braves have no major injuries right now, and we can't blame them for our failures like we were able to last year. Right now, a pathetic offense is choking the team. The Braves have scored just 3.47 runs a game in September. That's not going to get it done. When your pitching staff has no room for error, it's really tough to win games. And that's where the Braves are right now.
All we can really do right now is hope to god that the Cubs and Astros go on awesome runs over the season's final week, and that the Nationals decide to not play up to the Braves level for once. It's still completely possible that the team clinches before Philly comes to town, but it's very unlikely. That final series will more than likely have a playoff berth on the line....just the way that the schedule makers imagined it when they drew it up last year.
Sphincters are tight in the Atlanta. The Braves' lead in the NL wild card race is down to a game and a half over the Cardinals http://bit.ly/phong-kham-tri-tai-tphcm. The team is playing it's worst baseball of the year in the most crucial time of the year, going 8-13 over the month while the Cardinals have gone 14-5 to pick up an astounding seven games in the standings. A game and a half up with six to play...it seemed farfetched at the beginning of the month that we'd be in this situation, but here we are. The Cardinals have one more game left than the Braves, and are playing that game today against the Mets....well, they're scheduled to. It's currently in a rain delay.
If the Cardinals win out, the Braves would need to win five games to force a playoff, and would need to sweep the Nationals and Phillies to win the wild card outright. If the Braves play .500 ball and split the final two series of the year, the Cardinals would need to go at least 5-2 over their final seven in order to force a playoff or win the wild card. The only problem with this is that St Louis plays http://congtysangoviet.com the Cubs and Astros, two of the bottom four teams in the National League. Meanwhile, the Braves play a Nationals team that looks to complete a four game sweep of the Phillies tonight, and a Phillies team that always plays Atlanta tough and is in full-on playoff prep mode.