Whether or not they clinched a berth in the wild card playoff game Tuesday night, the Braves and manager Fredi Gonzalez are still shooting for the Nationals and a division title.
The prospects are slim, as the Braves trailed them by five games in NL East with nine to play entering Tuesday night. But the Braves know there are benefits to keeping it close.
“It’s going to be difficult catching Washington because we don’t play them anymore,” Gonzalez said. “But at the very least let’s keep an eye on them and make it interesting. If we can get some wins here and make it two or three games closer, it’ll be interesting at the very least.”
The Braves would like to force the Nationals to keep playing their regulars, while building some momentum of their own toward the playoffs. They’d love to avoid the one-game wild card playoff, but if that’s their fate, the Braves want homefield advantage in the wild card playoff. Their magic number to clinch that over the St. Louis Cardinals entering Tuesday night was four.
The Braves have started planning for what their roster would look like for a potential wild card playoff game. They’ve already announced they lined up Kris Medlen to start that game. On Tuesday, Gonzalez said he is planning to carrying three starters on the roster for that game, with two backup starters in case of an illness or emergency.
The Braves are still debating the rest of the roster makeup but are considering carrying seven relievers and 15 position players.
“Do you bring a third catcher because you might have to pinch run for (Brian) McCann late?” Gonzalez said. “We may change it and say let’s carry an extra pitcher because we don’t really pinch hit for any of the position players, and we don’t defend for any of our position players. If we got the starting eight, they finish the game, really.”
War of words
Gonzalez didn’t have much to say Tuesday when asked about the comments Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made about him, calling Gonzalez “classless” for his comments Sunday to the Miami Herald and calling his tenure as the Marlins manager a “colossal failure.”
“No, not that big a deal,” said Gonzalez, when asked if he was surprised by Loria’s comments.
The Miami Herald had quoted Gonzalez as saying: “There’s not a manager dead or alive that Jeffrey thinks is good enough. Not Connie Mack, not anyone.” Gonzalez stood by his quote on Tuesday.
“That’s what I said,” Gonzalez said. “I said it when the guy asked me a question. He’s the owner of the team, a tough guy to please and no matter who is managing his team there’s going to be a certain time when he doesn’t think that’s good enough, and that’s his prerogative.”