Time for the Braves to start helping themselves

So you woke up yesterday feeling pretty good and went to bed wondering, “Is there really a chance that they’re going to blow this?”

Well consider yourself lucky Braves fans.  The millions who make up Red Sox Nation did not even have the opportunity to wake up feeling good about their team Saturday.

Welcome to this year’s version of September baseball, the conclusion of Wild Card races have been delayed as futility has reigned.

At some point yesterday most Braves fans were likely cursing Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, who was as accurate as a politician’s campaign speech while issuing three walks and uncorking a game-ending wild pitch in a two-run ninth that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 victory.

But as this race has prolonged it has become even more apparent that there is no need for the Braves to worry about what is happening to the Cardinals.   With the start of the playoffs one week away, it’s time for them to start worrying only about themselves.

Yes you can say the Cardinals stole a victory Saturday afternoon in St. Louis.  But if if you say this, you must say they were also robbed of a victory when they did not hold a four-run ninth-inning lead during Thursday’s loss to the Mets.

With four games remaining, the Braves own a two-game advantage over the Cardinals in the National League Wild Card race.   The magic number to clinch sits at three.

The Braves would certainly help themselves if they can clinch before putting themselves in a position where they are forced to send Tim Hudson to the mound to start Wednesday’s regular season finale against the Phillies.

If Hudson has to start Wednesday’s game, he might not  be available to start again until Game 3 of the Division Series.   There’s certainly a chance, he would be brought back on short rest to start Game 2.  Either way, the Braves don’t want to put themselves in a position where he would not available to start Game 1.

Of course to conclude this Wild Card race before Wednesday arrives, the Braves would likely have to win at least a couple games in a row  — a rarity this month.

The Braves have won two games in a row just twice this month and that includes that September 8 doubleheader sweep of the Mets.   In case you were wondering, the Red Sox have not won consecutive games since sweeping a twinbill against the A’s on Aug. 27.

Mike Minor will take the mound for the Braves this afternoon to oppose Ross Detwiler, who allowed three hits while tossing 7 1/3 scoreless innings against the Phillies.   In his only appearance against Atlanta this year, he allowed three runs while working two relief innings.

Oh yeah, Detwiler was born in St. Louis and attended Missouri State University.  You think he’s received a few calls from a few friends/Cardinals fans over the past couple days?

Minor has made incredible strides since the beginning of this season and has impressed since becoming a fixture in the rotation over the past two months.   He made a couple mistakes to Mike Stanton and another to Logan Morrison in Miami Tuesday night.  But he pitched much better than you might have envisioned if you simply saw that he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

After concluding this three-game series against the Nationals, the Braves will come host to host the Phillies, who have lost eight in a row since clinching a fifth consecutive division title.

UPDATED:  The Phillies start Cliff Lee Monday and then plan to utilized their bullpen to get through Wednesday’s game.   Roy Oswalt will start Tuesday in what could be an abbreviated appearance in preparation of the playoffs.

But it’s also seemingly safe to assume Charlie Manuel’s troops are going to want to taste another win or two again before heading to the playoffs.

Once they conclude their three-game series with the Cubs today,the Cardinals will travel to Houston for a three-game series against the Astros, who are already evaluating who they might choose when they have the top overall pick in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

Maybe Astros centerfielder Jordan Schafer will help his former Braves teammates before this week concludes.

But the only sure fire way the Braves are going to clinch this Wild Card is if they start helping themselves.

21 Comments

The Braves had better make the playoffs I had already bought playoff tickets in Milwaukee for games 1&2.

The sad fact is that the Braves don’t act like they want to win, play like they can win and are managed by a guy who seems asleep at the switch in every situation. Beachy’s last 5 starts are losses, Lowe’s lost 4 of his last 5, Delgado, Teheran, and Minor are 5 inning pitchers with an average age of about 21, the bullpen just lost Moylan, Linebrink should have been jettisoned along with Proctor because he too is awful, Sherrill is on the DL and good only against lefties and then only some times and the big three are exhausted. Even if we manage to snatch a post season spot are we really saying Huddy, Beachy, Lowe, Minor/Huddy is going to get us through round 1. Stranger things like the 06 Cards have happened of course but looking at this lackluster offense and it’s lost in space manager I doubt it will happen.

GO SCHAFER!! beat the cardinals!

Can someone please explain to me why Prado and McCann are now horrible? Maybe, they need to put Contanza in LF because at least he adds the element of speed. Prado is now a 250 hitter with limited power and low OPB

As much as I’d love to see us in the playoffs, we do not look like a team that deserves to be there.

They played like they have all year today which just isn’t good enough in a game like this. No fire, no excitement , bad basic situational hitting. Just a mess and not worthy of a post season spot. Maybe they are secretly trying to get Fredi Gonzalez fired. It would explain many things. . .

Embarrassing……

Heads should roll, manager,hitting coach and pithcing coach. This is not acceotable. Not with this talent and the WC lead they HAD.

I’m going to have to agree. Somebody needs to light a fire under these players, and the current management is not getting it done.

Totally agree with junior and speedybream. As much as I love the Braves I would be embarrassed if somehow St.Louis failed to catch the Braves and the Braves continue the way they have in September into October. When you look at all the offensive stats that the Braves are last in it is either a testament to the pitching staff or the ability to catch opposing teams on a bad day. I am still trying to figure out what Heyward brings to the table other than the most consistent outs from “dribble” hits to second base (in fact that is his nickname in these parts “Mr. Dribble”). I do not mean to lay it off all on Heyward however, he is a prime example of the lack of clutch hitting that the Braves have exhibited all year long. Why not play Constanza he is only hitting 300+. The thought that not going after Pence due to the giving up of a future good pitching prospect does not fly when your team is last in several major offensive catagories especially “leaving runners on base” with no outs (not to mention bases loaded). I just do not see the wisdom in that thinking. I wonder where the post season race would be if the Braves could have score 25% of the runners they left on base for September alone. Fredie G. I hope you have learned a couple of things today:when your protecting a lead and you have two outs with a open base 1. Do not pitch Ramos to the inside he’s burned you several times throughout the year because of it. Walk him and go for the pitcher. 2. Morse is a .302 hitter even though he is 0-3 chances are he he is not going 0-4. Walk him and go for the rookie who is batting well below .300.

DOOM………..dooom……….dooooooooooooooooooooooooom

This afternoon we buried my grandfather, who lived to be 83 and was probably the biggest Braves fan I have ever known. Even had a floral arrangement in the image of the Braves’ logo at his funeral.
I had hoped that, to honor him, the Braves would lock up their playoff spot. There’s still time, but y’know, it would have been fitting.

Might be a good time to place a small wager on the Braves winning the world series. I think you can get decent odds.

Taking a break from worrying about the last 3 games and the playoffs.

I know a guy with more Runs scored, RBI, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Stolen Bases, a higher SLG, and more OF Assists, than any Braves. It’s a pity he had to be run out of town because he sucks so bad.

Uggla has more runs scored. Can’t argue with the rest other than he wouldn’t be producing for the Braves the same way he is for KC.

Unless you meant Melky, in which case: WOW. I didn’t realize he was having that good a season.

Nothing like a falling elevator to clear out an hotel.

Your analogy makes absolutely no sense. But I guess it does to they guy who doesn’t think OBP is affected by walks.

Haven’t left the hotel, I’m a permanent resident. As such I can tell management when I think it needs paint and when a renovation might be best. That doesn’t mean I want to move out just that the accommodation needs to be upgraded because the folks who live in it, support it, brag about it and pay good money to to the owners would like the finest quality location with a dedicated, hard working and well led staff. It may yet be hotel of the year for 2011 and I’ll scream loudly and brag a lot if it is. That doesn’t mean those that live here aren’t allowed to recognize the flaws and try to get them fixed.
Officially out of metaphors now…

Win 2 out of 3 and we can’t be eliminated. The Phillies don’t care about these games…to be honest, we’re so awful right now that they’d probably prefer us to be in the playoffs rather than the Cards. I wouldn’t be surprised if they rolled over and let us clinch. What sucks is the fact that the Cards play the Astros, so they are likely to sweep and force us to win some games.

As much as I don’t want it to happen, a major collapse may be they best way to make sure the ownership addresses our problems. Not much consolation to the fans at this time though.

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