(Carroll Rogers is filling in for David O’Brien today.)
Well, here we are. September 1. Thirty games between the Braves and a possible return to the postseason for the first time since 2010. The Braves venture into what was very treacherous territory last year – need I remind you of last year’s E.C. as my esteemed colleague Mark Bradley calls it. Frankly the Braves might as well just get right back into action after last night’s oddly familiar kind of loss to the Phillies (extra innings, blown save by Craig Kimbrel, reminiscent of the last game of the season last year.)
So the 4 p.m. FOX start is probably a good thing today as the Braves didn’t have much time to sit around and think about anything. I do think it was telling when both Chipper Jones and Michael Bourn talked about how they didn’t lose any ground in the wild card last night. At 6 ½ games behind the Nationals, even though Stephen Strasburg has only two or three starts left, and the Braves have three games left with the Nats, I think the wild card is the more realistic goal now.
And looking at it that way, the Braves lead is much less than last year. They were up 8 ½ games in the wild card on Sept. 5 last year. Heading into today’s game, they had a three-game lead on the Cardinals for the first wild card spot, and they’ve got at 3 ½ game lead on the Pirates, 4 ½ game lead on the Dodgers. Of course, two teams make it this year to a one-game playoff, so it’s not the same that way either.
“This is a totally different year,” Bourn said last night. “First of all, we had a way bigger lead last year than we do this year….You have to block that out of your head. You have to take that and throw it in the bag. You have to block it out. Don’t worry about that. That was last year. We’ve got to be able to turn it around this year and show them that we’re a different team.”
The Braves finished August 15-14 and frankly could use a chance to turn the page. As realcj10 said last night “Start the Sept mojo magic tmrw.” That didn’t exactly sound like a team leader who’s apprehensive about the month and what it entails. They’ll need to quickly with both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels to come in this weekend series.
I’m going to make this blog really snappy because I’m dealing with some quick deadlines with college football going on today. So let me get right to matters. As expected, the Braves called up Lyle Overbay, Peter Moylan, Jose Constanza and catcher J.C. Boscan in the first wave of September call-ups. The Braves will add a couple more pitchers on Tuesday after Gwinnett’s season is over. My guess would be Cory Gearrin and Anthony Varvaro.
Moylan was genuinely excited about his return, said it almost brought him to tears the other day when he found out. He didn’t see it coming after he’d struggled with some inconsistency coming off shoulder surgery. It’s proved a lot more challenging than the Tommy John recovery. Be on the lookout for a note about that, as well as Overbay.
Fredi Gonzalez is sitting the left-handed hitting Bourn today and putting Reed Johnson in center field vs. Lee. The numbers make it look like a pretty clear decision: Bourn is 0-for-15 in his career against Lee, while Johnson is 5-for-11 (.455) against him with two doubles, one homer and two walks.
1. Martin Prado LF
2. Reed Johnson CF
3. Jason Heyward RF
4. Chipper Jones 3B
5. Freddie Freeman 1B
6. Brian McCann C
7. Dan Uggla 2B
8. Paul Janish SS
9. Tim Hudson P
Brian McCann did break out the glasses last night and plans to again today. He said he had some problems with the wind in San Francisco and the dry air in San Diego. He put the glasses on back home and he felt better with them, so he’s going to take it day-by-day and use them if he feels the need.
More on the collision
For those of you who thought Chipper Jones should have just slid into home plate last night instead of drawing some serious contact with catcher Erik Kratz, I asked Chipper about that this morning and he didn’t see any of the plate.
“Where am I going to slide?” he said. “He’s going to come down right on top of me and bury me. I didn’t see any plate. I’ve played this game for a long time and I’ve had many opportunities. If he gives me a crease, I’ll take it. But he’s 6-4 he’s 260. He’s a big man and I couldn’t see any of home plate.”
Chipper said it was probably the biggest collision of his career.
“I hit (Mike) Piazza a couple times, nothing like that,” Jones said. “Piazza was more one of those guys who would sit on home plate. He learned under (Mike) Scioscia. He’s pretty hard to move when he’s sitting on home plate. When the throw is high and up the line it gives you an opportunity to get up under there.”
Fredi was just glad it wasn’t somebody shorter like Carlos Ruiz who might have upended Jones at the plate. As it was, Chipper felt fine and ready to play Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of feeling good, shortstop Andrelton Simmons took bp on the field today as he continues to gear up to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment on Tuesday with an eye toward a mid-September return. He’s a pretty happy guy these days as the last two months have been tough on him, out with a broken hand.
“It was a big relief,” Simmons said of getting cleared for all baseball activities Friday by hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie. “I’ve been getting stalled so much. I’m feeling ready to do stuff and they were trying to be careful. I understand why they were trying to be careful but me being me I’m ready to go. I was waiting for the ok to start doing stuff, so getting that ok yesterday was big for me.”
Time to post and get on with things.