This is the time of season when a fan sits back and thinks: “Wait a minute. You mean we could’ve made the playoffs if we just beat the Nationals, Marlins or Pirates?”
There are 10 days left in the season. As you may have noticed, the Braves are not dead again. The fingers continue to wiggle through the dirt at the grave site. Colorado blew a 3-0 lead and lost at home to San Diego, 5-4, Thursday night. The Rockies’ lead over the Braves in the wild-card race is down to 3 1/2 games.
When things get this close, you start to think of all the what-ifs. For example:
♦ What if the Braves hadn’t lost consecutive series to the Washington Nationals in April and June?
♦ What if they hadn’t been swept by Florida in April and had a better season record against the Marlins than 7-8?
♦ What if they weren’t 6-8 against the Pirates (56-95) and Diamondbacks (66-87)?
Even with the small deficit in the wild-card race, most of the numbers still work against the Braves. But let’s break it down:
Team Record GB Schedule Colorado 86-67 -- (3 StL, 3 Milw, 3 @LAD)
Braves 82-70 3.5 (3 @Wash, 3 Fla., 4 Wash.)
Florida 82-71 4 (3 NYM, 3 @Braves, 3 @Phi)
San Fran. 82-71 4 (3 ChiC, 3 Ariz, @SD) ♦
♦ ELIMINATION NUMBER: 7. That means if any combination of Braves’ losses and Rockies’ wins equals seven, it’s over. The Braves have 10 games left, the Rockies nine. If the Braves go 10-0, the Rockies can still clinch the wild card by going 7-2. If the Braves go 8-2, the Rockies can still clinch by going 5-4.
♦ THE SCHEDULE: Seven of the Braves’ last 10 games come against the Washington Nationals, a team they should sweep on paper. But it never seems to work out that way. Colorado has a seemingly difficult remaining schedule: three each against St. Louis (home), Milwaukee (home) and Los Angeles (road). However, the Rockies swept seven straight road games at St. Louis and Milwaukee in June. They’ve struggled against the Dodgers, losing 12 of 15, including five of six in L.A.
♦ THE ODDS: According to CoolStandings.com, which I blogged about last month , the Braves have a 12.4 percent chance of winning the wild card. The website, which factors in strength of schedule, computes the Rockies’ chances at 79.7 percent, the Giants’ at 4.2 and the Marlins’ at 3.4.
So are they dead or alive? Declare.