Time for the Braves to dig out of another hole

Some of you gave up on them when they lost nine straight near the end of April.  Others chose to exit Turner Field or quit monitoring the May 20 game against the Reds before Brooks Conrad delivered his walk-off grand slam to cap a seven-run, ninth inning. 

Now that they’ve lost 14 of their past 23 and fallen behind in the National League Wild Card race, it once again feels like it’s time to give up on the Braves.

Go ahead.  That’s the way they like it.  This is the same bunch that spent the season’s first five months making last at-bat victories seem as routine as the seventh-inning stretch or a Jonny Venters appearance. 

If the Braves manage to win the Wild Card, they’ll be recognized as a club that has proven capable of digging themselves out of messes.   If not, they’ll be known as a club that dug themselves into one too many holes. 

Losing three straight to the Phillies when they’re pitching Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt might not qualify as a sin.  But losing six of the nine games played against the Pirates and Nationals during the season’s final month is a punishable offense that could lead to solitude once the playoffs begin.  

Last week I said that the Phillies series shouldn’t be viewed as the most important of the season and I stand by that conviction.   If it was so vitally important, then why do the Braves still have life?

With that being said, they are obviously approaching their six most vital games of the season.  Throughout the year, we hear the players talk about the need to simply take two of three to win a series. 

It’s an approach that makes sense until you put yourself in this situation, where you’re a half-game behind in the Wild Card race with just six games to play.  Now it seems better to look at the situation like they have six holes left to play and without room to make another bogey. 

With six games left in the 2009 season, the Braves were two games back in the Wild Card standings and riding the momentum of a seven-game winning streak.   Their next victory would be notched on Opening Day this year.

Now the same Marlins bunch that essentially killed Atlanta’s playoff hopes (with help from a
Matt Diaz baserunning blunder) last year is back at Turner Field for a three-game series that begins tonight.    The Fish have lost nine of their last 13 games and no longer have the luxury of calling upon Josh Johnson every five days. 

I’m guessing that Jair Jurrjens won’t be able to start Tuesday night against Anibal Sanchez.   Still with Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe possibly getting the ball with short rest during the final two games of this three-game set, the pitching matchups seem to favor the Braves. 

Tommy Hanson will be paired against Alex Sanabia.   Hudson and Lowe would be matched up against Sanchez and Andrew Miller in the final two games.   It’s only fitting that the Braves get another crack at Miller, who helped get them in this current funk by limiting them to one run in a 103-pitch, five-inning effort on Sept. 3. 

While going 0-4 with a 12.89 ERA in the four starts that have followed, Miller has looked much more like the guy who went 1-8 with a 6.01 ERA for Double-A Jacksonville this year.

As Martin Prado continues to limp his way down the stretch while dealing with a groin strain that has plagued him for a couple of weeks, the Brave once opportune offense appears lifeless.  They have hit .246 this month (.247 vs. RHP and .240 vs. LHP).

After hitting .254 in close and late situations from May 10-Aug. 31, they have hit just .189 (23-for-122) in these close and late situations this month.   Their left fielders have hit .268 with a .457 slugging percentage from May 10-Aug. 31.  This month they have batted .188 with a .294 slugging percentage. 

Still with all that has gone wrong, the Braves enter this final week with reason for optimism.  
While they’re playing a Phillies club that won’t have much to play for this weekend, the Padres and Giants  will battling each other in San Francisco.

We’ll keep our eyes on how the Padres fare against the Cubs this week and how the Giants do against the D-backs.  But really the only thing that matters this week is what transpires at Turner Field. 

There might ultimately be some room for error.  But for now, the Braves essentially have to approach these final six games in a do-or-die manner.  

It’s not an enviable position.  But this is a club that obviously doesn’t like the comfort it possessed as recently as a week ago, when they possessed a 2 -game lead in the Wild Card standings.

19 Comments

But Mark, this ISN’T the same team it was in April-July.
No Jair Jurrjens.No Kris Medlen.No Chipper Jones.Troy Glaus was replaced by Derrek Lee.Yunel Escobar was replaced by Alex Gonzalez.Brooks Conrad hasn’t seen the field in September.Hinske hasn’t either (mind you he was tearing the cover off the ball in April-June).Martin Prado has a broken hand and a messed up groin.
This is nowhere near the same team it was when we were winning.

Braves squandered every chance they had this year to win the division. That was really their only hope because they need homefield advantage since their road play is terrible. Even if we get it together this week and somehow make the playoffs, it will be an early exit in round one on the road. That might even be worse in my opinion than making the playoffs. The team looks tired, lost leadership when Chipper went down, and their confidence seems to have faded. No one is really stepping up when needed anymore. It’s sad.

Mark: This is what one would expect with this owner, this Gen Mgr. and the talent they assembled.
Phillies jetison Burrell, and sign Ibanez and Polanco. We sign Glaus who had not played in a year and that was it. With Wren giving KK 8 mill, Chipper, with his wonderful legacy not withstanding, he has been injury prone for the last few years, 13 mill or more, Lowe, a 500 pitcher, 15 mill, we had no money to sign any real power hitter, like Dunn, who could have played left. When Chipper goes down, as one woud figure based on history, we have no replacement, and even Chipper was no longer a 30+ home run threat. So now we rely on pitching and defense, but the defense has sucked. Brian, for all of his offense, still cannot block a ball and cannot throw out a runner. We have no speed at the top, something we have not replaced since Furcal left. And our mid season additions have been pretty woeful. When finally the pitching gets suspect, Jurgens has an off year, Hanson has been up and down, and so has Hudson recently, it leaves you not wondering why this team is facing a early vacation, even if they back into a playoff, but have to go on the road.

Chickens beginning to roost. Although I agree with micktheman in the above post – still pulling for the Bravos because I am a fan – however, the team as assembled has not given a good effort at all in this month of September. It will go down as a “slow choke”. We are over matched by the Phils for sure, but this team’s performance against the bottom dwellers is inexcusable. They don’t deserve to be in the playoffs; not the way they have played.

If they happen to win 5 of six and get in, well, they will be lucky to win a game in season 2.

I think there are more phans in the stands in the pouring rain in Washington than there are fans in the stands in Atlanta. What, this game isn’t important enough? If the Phillies were in your predicament, there would be 45,000 beseeching, screeching phans in CBP to support their team.
Quitters. And I don’t mean the players.

Boy, martin is a gamer, but on what planet should he have been in the game? Bobby’s undying loyalty to guys who make it into his lineup has turned into a dangerous situation for a young superstar, not unlike what he does to his favorite BP boy.

It’s time for Brian McCann to throw out a runner at second base. Again tonight, a key run scores after Brian’s throw wasn’t close. Another wasted Hanson outing.

Welcome back Brooks, is it time to say I told you so, yet?

Still was past the 7th inning bill. But maybe Brooks is just the shot in the *** we need. He’ll get his chance now with Prado down. I researched his injury, sounds like a nagger that will shut him down for the rest of the regular season. Maybe even the first round of playoff’s(IF we make it).

Man are you guys a piece of work. We have the third best record in the NL and you’re talking about how much of a joke the team is. They’re beat up and hurt, get over it. It’s pretty difficult to get over having roaming players in 5 positions, and losing 3 starters to either injury or sucking. Glad to see the Braves have such loyalty in their corner. You idiots have been like this all year. Losing streak: “Chipper needs to be forced to retire, thank god bobby is leaving”, winning streak: “wish bobby stayed for another 5 years! chipper too!”, losing streak “it’s time to rebuild”, Lowe pitches badly, “let’s just dump him altogether”, now he’s pitching like the ace “let’s pitch Lowe on 2 days rest!”. You guys are a joke. These guys aren’t giving up, they’re playing their guts out with almost nothing in the tank. Get a new hobby where loyalty isn’t an issue; maybe stamp collecting or arena football. And you Philly Phag trolls who have nothing better to do.. even if you win the NLCS or the WS, your city still smells like piss and sucks *** compared to New York City, Boston, and even Baltimore.
If the Braves don’t make the playoffs, I call the Rangers in 6 in the WS.

Also, we’re a half game up on the wild card, you traitorous turds.

A hip pointer is very painful. But you can’t say he’s out the rest of the season without knowing the severity of the injury. Such as, I could say I have a laceration…that’s anything from a papercut to severing an artery. However, with the way he looked on the field, I’m not too optomistic.

I wonder what y?all think about Bobby for Manager of the Year. On the one hand, getting into the postseason with this ragtag roster of castoffs, has-beens, upstarts, and career utility guys would be as big a miracle as the 2005 Division title. On the other hand, the problems that have the Braves fighting for their postseason lives?bad defense and an absolute lack of situational hitting?are problems that reflect poorly on the coaching.

If there were such a thing as Pitching-Coach-of-the-Year, then surely Roger would deserve it for the performance he?s gotten out of this no-name, revolving-door staff this season.

And as for the Phillie trolls here?. The Phillies have the finest roster money can buy, with a lineup that?s the envy of every team in baseball. They have perennial allstar caliber players at every position except catcher, and Ruiz has put up the best numbers of his career this year. Phillies fans should be embarrassed that it took their team until September to take control of the Division, relieved that they are finally playing the way they ought, and anxious that their underachieving ways might return in the postseason.

Go Braves!

drfill, please explain to me what should be embarrassing about having the best record in MLB. You sound like billreef, who was figuring that the Braves had the division won in July.
vivabeta hit the nail on the head with you guys. You react to little windows all year long as if what they are doing that day is who they are. Not how it works. And anybody who is more than just a reactionary casual fan would know that.

The problem with the offense is the same problem we’ve had since Andruw went into decline: no power. Tex brought it and we went on a run, LaRoche brought it and we went on a run. When we were winning almost every day it was because Glaus was going deep. We never have much problem getting on base, it’s just the instant runs that are provided by the home run that we’re missing. You go into offensive slumps and power gets you out. A cold team that manufactures runs with walks, base hits, no stolen bases, and doubles.. it’s hard to get back on track. One swing of the bat could get you a win in a pitcher’s duel, instead of two to four. That being said, complain all you want about our acquisitions after the break.. the failings of this offense lies on the shoulders of Heyward, Prado, and McCann. It’s also pretty sad that McClouth leads the team in HRs this month with THREE.

Also, soak it up guys. My 2:40am post will (hopefully) be my last drunken rant of the regular season!

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And as for the Phillie trolls here?. The Phillies have the finest roster money can buy, with a lineup that?s the envy of every team in baseball. They have perennial allstar caliber players at every position except catcher, and Ruiz has put up the best numbers of his career this year. Phillies fans should be embarrassed that it took their team until September to take control of the Division, relieved that they are finally playing the way they ought, and anxious that their underachieving ways might return in the postseason.

Go Braves!

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