Braves set for yet another stress-filled finale
Now is not the time to evaluate how the Braves put themselves in this position. There will be plenty more opportunities to dissect what has gone wrong since they entered the regular season’s final month with an 8 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card race.
Instead fans, players and anybody affiliated with the Braves organization should simply embrace their current position, even if it was one they never wanted. I’m pretty sure there are a whole lot of Giants and Angels fans who would love to still be feeling the stress that fans and players from both Red Sox Nation and Braves Nation are feeling today.
The month of September has proven to be far worse than any Red Sox or Braves fan could ever imagined. At the same time, it has been far better than any Rays or Cardinals fan could ever imagine.
Consequently, the next day or two could prove to be as special as any you experience this October.
Like the Braves and Cardinals enter their final regular season games tied atop the National League Wild Card standings, the Red Sox and Rays approach their respective finales tonight tied for the American League’s Wild Card lead.
Major League Baseball could not have asked for a more dramatic finish.
So now that you’ve had plenty of time to digest the fact that the Braves have lost four consecutive games and 17 of their past 25 games, it seems you have no other choice but to sit back and enjoy the stress that engulfs you tonight as the Braves play the Phillies and the Cardinals play the Astros.
For more than a week, the Braves were hoping to avoid using Tim Hudson before the playoffs began. That plan obviously fell apart as they lost eight of their past 11 games.
But now that the Braves find themselves fighting preserve what once seemed to be a certain playoff spot, they are at least fortunate to have the opportunity to send Hudson to the mound to face the Phillies tonight.
This marks the second straight year the Braves have sent Hudson to the mound to face the Phillies in their regular season finale while tied for the NL Wild Card lead. When he was in this situation last year, the veteran hurler limited the Phillies to two hits (two two-run homers) in a determined seven-inning effort.
A few hours later after watching the Padres lose to the Giants, the Braves sprayed champagne and celebrated like they are hoping to do at some point over the next two days.
About an hour after the Braves and Phillies start playing in Atlanta, the Cardinals will send Chris Carpenter to the mound in Houston to oppose Brett Myers and the Astros. Myers is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his past four starts.
If the Braves and Cardinals are still tied at the end of play tonight, they’ll play a one-game play-in game in St. Louis Thursday night to determine which team will serve as the NL’s Wild Card entrant. Brandon Beachy would get the start for Atlanta.
Obviously if the Braves use both Hudson and Beachy during the next two nights, both would be unavailable for Game 1 of the Division Series. My guess is that Mike Minor would get the nod.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has not said how he might align his rotation for the Division Series. Right now, he should just feel happy that he might still have a chance to make these decisions.