It is looking more and more like Bobby Cox’ career is going to be extended into October after all. The Braves now hold a 2 game lead over the Padres in the NL Wild Card race and have a magic number of 2 to clinch a playoff spot. The Padres lost to the Cubs again Thursday (they lost 3 of 4 in the series) and now play the San Francisco Giants to end the year. Now, I don’t want to jinx the Braves, but it does look like the odds are in their favor.
The Braves, coming off a sweep of the Marlins will now end the regular season against the rival Phillies; who just swept the Braves last week in Philly. The good news is that the Phils already have their playoff spot and #1 seed taken care of and have no reason to play their starters deep into games—meaning the Braves have a shot to clinch the Wild Card early to give themselves that same luxury of resting players. It would really be nice if the walking-wounded could actually get a day to heal. Now, I’m not saying the Phils are going to just lie down, I’m sure they’d love to keep the Braves out of the playoffs. But Charlie Manuel is old school and he isn’t going to take any chances on someone getting injured.
Speaking of injuries, the #3 spot in the order is cursed. It looks like Chipper wasn’t injury-prone after all—he was just hitting in the wrong spot in the order. Brian McCann had better watch out. Hey, maybe Nate McLouth should hit third, then I wouldn’t have to cringe ever time I see his name in the lineup. Seriously, why is he still paying? He HAS to have naked pictures of someone—that’s the only explanation.
If indeed the Braves do earn a playoff spot, they will most likely open up on Tuesday in San Francisco…yikes! I have been saying all year, the one team I don’t want to see in a short series is the Giants. Three words—Lincecum. Zito. Cain. That is scary. But, it’s the Post-season; anything can happen! Look at the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals; the only reason they made the playoffs is because the Astros couldn’t win a game at the end of the season. They only had 83 wins, but they got hot with names like Jeff Suppan and Jeff Weaver emerging as heroes. Anything can happen.
The strength of the 2010 Braves has been pitching, and even though they lost a couple guys to injuries, the starting rotation is still formidable and their bullpen is the best in the game in my eyes. Derek Lowe has been pitching out of his mind this month and has tied Tim Hudson for the team lead with 16 wins. Tommy Hanson should have at least that many too, but hasn’t gotten the run support. They will be a solid 3-man rotation in the playoffs and if they can get anything from Jair Jurrjens, it will be a bonus.
Again, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but assuming the Braves are in the playoffs, they just need to win one game in San Francisco and the series will be over. Quote me on that, the Braves will not lose to the Giants in Atlanta. Period. Call it a bold prediction, call it stupid, just wait and see. This team is totally different at home and they are going to show the world. People may have no clue who half of the (healthy) Braves players are, but they will when it is all over.
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Until Next time…Go Braves!