September 2007

It ain’t over till it’s over…

Well it certainly has been an interesting week for the Atlanta Braves. A week full of highs, lows and everything in between.

A nine-game home-stand against NL East opponents began with a back-breaking 3-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets that may well have sealed the Braves playoff fate… so it seemed at the time. Splitting the first two games of their series with the Philadelphia Phillies, the Braves pulled off an improbable seven run comeback in the final two innings of Wednesday’s contest to grab a 9-8 win.

What was different in that game than any other in the home-stand thus far?

The breaks. They finally went the Braves way… and then some.

A string of broken bat, bloop and infield singles fueled the rally that saw the powerful Braves line-up score seven runs without the benefit of a single homer. Matt Diaz provided the final blow, but what was equally amazing about the feat itself was the fact that it came against the Phillies top two relievers, Tom Gordon and Brett Myers.

The Braves can ill-afford another sweep in any series, and still have three games against both the Mets and Phillies before season’s end. Is that enough time and/or opportunity to make the race for the Division interesting? It may well be.

Other than the Mets and Phillies series, Atlanta’s only other game against a team with a .500 or better record is the Milwaukee Brewers (71-68) – who are fighting to win the NL Central with an nearly identical record as the Braves (71-69) coming into Thursday. Milwaukee is just 22-29 since the All-star break and have seen both the Chicago Cubs and defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals re-assert themselves in the race.

The Braves schedule includes this weekend’s series against the Washington Nationals (63-77) and one more trip to Miami to face the last place Marlins (60-80). Atlanta will conclude the season against the Houston Astros (62-78). Add that all up and you have teams that have combined to go 50 games under .500. So there is certainly a chance the Braves could put together some good baseball down the stretch.

Other notes:

Get well soon Edgar: Despite the solid play of Yunel Escobar at short over the past month, it is interesting to note that the Braves are just 14-17 without Edgar Renteria in the line-up. The veteran shortstop is still wary of just how his sprained ankle will respond and is not eager to rush back and re-injure himself for second time.

Wickman still out there: After being let go by the Atlanta Braves on August 24, former closer Bob Wickman has still not found a new home. When the Phillies arrived in town, the overall impression was that Philadelphia would pass on the 38-year old righty despite manager Charlie Manuel’s familiarity with Wickman from their days in Cleveland. However, after the stunning 9-8 loss they suffered to the Braves on Wednesday, they may just re-consider their late inning options.

Hudson honored as Braves Roberto Clemente award recipient: Not only is Tim Hudson enjoying more success on the field in 2007, but he has continued to work hard in his efforts off the field. For the second straight season, Hudson has been chosen as the team’s recipient of the Roberto Clemente award for his outstanding success on the field and his tireless efforts of community service. Hudson will be honored prior to Friday night’s game against Washington and will be one of 30 nominees to be considered for the national Clemente award.

Till next time,