Braves still upright despite losing Prado (and so many others)

Eric Hinske (three-run homer) and Brooks Conrad (RBI triple) led the Braves to another unlikely victory. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Eric Hinske (homer) and Brooks Conrad (RBI triple) led another Braves win. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

What exactly are the baseball gods waiting for? For Bobby Cox to scream, “Uncle?”

The question now isn’t just whether the Braves can drag themselves across the finish line of this regular season, the last spasm somehow getting them into the playoffs. It’s whether they’re going to bankrupt their HMO.

The clubhouse is a room of exploding body parts, and yet they endure. They are like Monty Python’s “Black Knight,” who had his two arms severed by King Arthur but responded, “‘It’s only a flesh wound. … I am invincible!”)

Are the Braves? They’ve received more than their share of flesh wounds. The latest came Tuesday, with the news that Martin Prado — who figured to be on the shelf for possibly the season any way with a hip pointer — suffered a torn oblique muscle.

Doctors have ordered Prado to not do too much more than sit on a couch for the next two months. So much for the post season, even if the Braves make it.

This is how the Braves responded to the news: They defeated the Florida Marlins 3-2.

Tim Hudson, pitching on three days rest for the injured Jair Jurrjens, allowed one run in six innings. Third baseman Brooks Conrad, who was starting for Prado, who had been filling in at third for Chipper Jones (torn ACL), was batting .236 when he stepped to the plate in the seventh inning. Then he hit an RBI triple to tie it at 1-1. Two batters later, Eric Hinske hit a pinch hit two-run homer.

It turns out when Martin Prado crumbled to the ground Monday, he had a torn oblique to go with his hip pointer.

It turns out when Martin Prado crumbled to the ground Monday, he had a torn oblique to go with his hip pointer.

They did it again. They still lead San Diego in the race for the National League wild card spot.

Cue the Black Knight, after losing both arms and both legs: “Come back here! I’ll bite your legs off!”

Prado has been the team’s most valuable player this season. He crumbled during his final at-bat Monday night against Florida, after injuring his hip earlier on a diving catch. Understand this about Martin Prado: He doesn’t crumble unless a Chevy falls on his head.

The wonder is that the Braves, even while clearly wearing down, haven’t crumbled with all of these injuries.

They have lost two No. 3 hitters (Jones and Prado). Their entire starting infield is not what it was projected to be. The plans of (right to left) Troy Glaus, Prado, Yunel Escobar and Jones turned into Derrek Lee, Omar Infante, Alex Gonzalez and Prado.

Six different players have started in left field.

Four different players have started in center.

Cox used his 105th different lineup Tuesday. That’s 1-0-5.

Reliever Takashi Saito (shoulder) hasn’t pitched in 11 days. He’s probably done. Jurrjens, who missed two months with a hamstring injury, also might be done with a knee injury. Reliever-turned-starter Kris Medlen had Tommy John surgery. Reliever Eric O’Flaherty: He’s dizzy and has blurred vision.

The team is being held together by duct tape.

Cox said it best Tuesday: “We’ve had a lot of patchwork. … We have a great bench. But now that bench is in the lineup.”

Hitters four through eight in the lineup entered with batting averages of .255, .255, .256, .239 and .232.

Hudson, going down the list of injuries in his head, said: “Two of our best starting pitchers are out. Our starting third baseman. Our starting second baseman. The bullpen. But nobody’s using that as an excuse. You just have to take what you have and go out there and try to win.”

Somehow, they did that again Tuesday. With only four games left on their schedule, maybe we should just stop assuming they’re going to hit a wall.

EARLIER POST

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82 comments Add your comment

elvisaintdead

September 28th, 2010
10:48 pm

D-Day wasn’t this brutal in terms of carnage. wow.

Bat Masterson

September 28th, 2010
10:49 pm

Yeah Jeff, these guy don’t quit. It blows my mind to read all the comments claiming the Braves have choked. Ill those injuries and sending a handful of guys out there that on the best day of their life are half asses. Amazing

Jeff Schultz

September 28th, 2010
10:55 pm

Elvisaintdead and Bat Masterton — Agree completely. To me the leveling off was merely the team being worn down. And for Cox to get criticized is absolutely nuts. Have you seen this lineup? These were the batting averages of hitters four through eight going into tonight: .255, .255, .256, .239, .232.

Gene

September 28th, 2010
11:01 pm

I admire their determination. How long has it been since a playoff team had a starting outfielder batting .190? Lee and Ankeil aren’t much better. If the Braves had Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine in their prime, they would have a chance. Miracles happen. Anyway, Cox can go out on a good note.

Headley Lamar

September 28th, 2010
11:04 pm

Agree 100 % Schultz

wawel78

September 28th, 2010
11:10 pm

no offense, Jeff, but they’ve already hit a wall. They’re just trying to hold on. As a fan, I hope they make it but they do not have a chance of making it out of the NL.

Headley Lamar

September 28th, 2010
11:10 pm

Blog comments are retarded

September 28th, 2010
11:11 pm

I’m making the five hour trip to be there on Saturday. I’m so proud of this team and the manager. In or out, this was a memorable season. My playoff and world series tickets came in the mail today…I’d love to be able to use them. Thankfully I have family in Atlanta.

wawel78

September 28th, 2010
11:13 pm

They’re still 12-14 this month, lost 2 of 3 to a last place team and are going down to the wire against a .500 team. Again, as a fan, I hope they make it but let’s don’t make this something it’s not.

Eric C.

September 28th, 2010
11:18 pm

If the Braves squeak into the playoffs, they do have a chance of getting out of the NL if the Phillies get upset in the first round…and that is not impossible.

Eric C.

September 28th, 2010
11:20 pm

They lost 9 straight earlier this year with all of their cogs in place (minus Jurrjens)…just get into the playoffs and anything can happen.

MIke S

September 28th, 2010
11:22 pm

What the Braves are doing since Chipper and Medlen went down and Troy finally fell apart is actually downright amazing — yes playing .500 ball with the patchwork lineup they have now is a great feat. The truth is this roster should be struggling to match record with the Pirates, Nationals and D-Backs.

To actually still be fighting for a playoff position is nothing short of a miracle.

I don’t think they have any chance of advancing even to the NLCS, but at this point just making the playoffs is enough of an accomplishment to make Bobby Cox’ (greatest manager of our generation) farewell season a success.

MitchC

September 28th, 2010
11:23 pm

Jeff, maybe I’m expecting too much, but I think we need three more wins to assure ourselves the wild card. We need to win tomorrow, and get two of three against the Phillies over the weekend, and I think that should do it.

This team never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes, it seems like we can’t hit a lick. I didn;t think we’d ever score a run tonight. Then, when Hinske’s homer went out, I was like “Hot darn, they’;ve done it again”.

I hope the Cubs can give us some help tonight. It would be nice to go into one of these games with SOME margin for error.

That’s my call. Three gets it done. If we can finish the sweep of the Marlins tomorrow, and win two this weekend against Philly, we will be the NL Wild Card.

Eric C.

September 28th, 2010
11:24 pm

The beauty of this is that the Phillies are on cloud 9 right now without a care in the world other than keeping players free from injury…but come playoff time, if the Braves are there…it’s all 0-0. The Braves were almost always in the Phillies position come this time and the complacency hurt them in the playoffs at times. It could be a good change of pace to be on the other side and actually enter as a wild card.

MIke S

September 28th, 2010
11:26 pm

Good News out west – Cubs are beating SD, Arizona is beating SF.

If the Braves can win tomorrow and both SD and SF lose tonight – Atlanta will enter the weekend series with Philly ahead of both teams — this would be huge as SF and SD play each other. If Atl has a 1 game lead on both then the Braves are garaunteed a minimum of a one game playoff as one of the two will have to go 1-2 for the weekend. ONE braves win against the Phillies would clinch the Wildcard.

Eric C.

September 28th, 2010
11:29 pm

Btw, why are St. Louis and NYM still listed in the wild card standings?

kaminari

September 28th, 2010
11:37 pm

It’s all tied in SD. Yeah, just winning tonight was amazing. As was yesterday. They are held together – and hanging on – by a thread. If we can just win tomorrow, that will be good enough. Having the Phillies come into ATL, with a NL East crown, walking proud etc, but to bust the bully’s lip when he comes into your yard, it will make the year. The WC is just the icing. This Phillies series is going to be the cake, and you bet the players having the chance to play will give it their all.

Yeah, it would be great to start the year over at 0-0 with the Phils. That’s the beauty of the playoffs.

kyle t

September 28th, 2010
11:38 pm

Still listed because at least for the St. Louis, they still had a minute chance. They don’t now that they lost and Cincy won.

kaminari

September 28th, 2010
11:38 pm

Btw, Soriano’s jack makes it 4-2 Cubs in the 6th. Still a ways to go in that one.

Greg

September 28th, 2010
11:39 pm

Our 1-3 pitchers can pretty much compete with anyone when they are on their A game, but the hitting just can’t keep up. Its frustrating to understand how much potential this team had in July and August, and then see them in their state now. They have fought admirably but the injuries are gonna bite hard in the playoffs.

kyle t

September 28th, 2010
11:42 pm

I had picked the Giants to go to the WS at the beginning of the season (not bragging – I also picked the angels). However, it would be a shame to see the padres not make the playoffs after the season they had.

that being said, of course if it comes down to the braves or the padres lets get the braves in. and to get the braves in the best bet is to root for the giants to take the series against the padres. oh well.

kyle t

September 28th, 2010
11:44 pm

if the braves make the NLCS this year then it may just be Bobby’s finest coaching job yet. Or even if the take the NLDS 5 games.

Mountain Dawg

September 28th, 2010
11:50 pm

Watching these guys play in September has been like having a root canal.

Starsky

September 29th, 2010
12:00 am

Please don’t make heroes out of these guys. Did you see the team they BARELY beat the last two nights? Has beens, never-will-be’s and clueless rookies. Gaby Sanchez must have had money on the Braves the way he played tonight.

aswingruber

September 29th, 2010
12:19 am

Did you see the team the Braves rolled out there, Starsky. That’s the point moron.

P Rose

September 29th, 2010
12:25 am

Can Hinske start in left field or first base once in a while? And man, what is wrong with Ankiel — can he even see the ball? He is missing it by a foot. I miss Blanco. This was a huge win tonight, though. Just get into the playoffs and we’ll see what happens. Go Braves!

Ree Roe

September 29th, 2010
12:27 am

HR Soriano!!!

Cubs lead 5-2 in the top of the 8th

-REEveal it to Roe!!

Jeff Schultz

September 29th, 2010
12:32 am

wawel78 –I’ve got no reason to be offended.

Jeff Schultz

September 29th, 2010
12:32 am

MitchC — agreed 3-1 is needed.

Herschel Talker

September 29th, 2010
12:51 am

Schultzie:

Well said. You gotta love the heart and emotion. Even if we lose in the first round, at this point just getting there will be enough. This team definitely is likeable when they’re showing emotion and character.

HT

Herschel Talker

September 29th, 2010
12:52 am

Oh, I almost forgot:

FIRE MARK RICHT

CBBrave

September 29th, 2010
1:10 am

Although its a travesty that we are without Prado, Chipper, Medlin, and Saito for the rest of the season, I do remember a time back in June or July when Prado was hurt, Medlin was not a starter yet, McLouth was at Gwinnett and D Lee was still a Cub. We were filling in gaps with Hinske and Conrad and winning games. I hope Bobby does not feel obligated to play D.Lee every day cause the line up seems to get going when Conrad and Hinske are in it and why not add Glaus to the mix every once in awhile. Tonight was the second night in a row where Hinske came through with a clutch hit to help win the game. To just to interject one more thing, Am I the only one who thinks McLouth looks lost in left? He has also lost his way at the plate as well so get him a seeing eye dog and let him find his way back to the bench!

Pokey

September 29th, 2010
1:11 am

I’m not sure what’s going to happen but if it doesn’t happen soon my wife will probably file for divorce. These guys are driving me nuts but I love it. So many years we went into the playoffs with a huge division lead and then we played with no fire. This year has been a dog fight, The Phils, Reds and Giants have better teams on paper, but I would take this bunch of scrapers any day of the week. Keep fighting Bravos, I’m with you. Bobby Cox for manager of the year!!!!!!

Darryl Blackberry

September 29th, 2010
1:19 am

The Braves get no love from the national media, re: the injuries, because the Atlanta lineup was never imposing to begin with, even on paper. Yet, Boston and Philly are praised — even though one of those clubs is no longer in contention — for doing so well despite having had injured players.

The Atlanta Braves are the walking dead…yet they live on, devouring their opponents with a near-morbid sense of determination. As a Braves fan, I never thought I’d say this kind of thing, but: if Atlanta even makes it to the postseason — come what may — I’ll be happy. To know that we played better than the offense-crazed Rockies or the pitching-surgeons of the Padres or the perennially-praised Cardinals means a lot, especially in what may be Cox/Jones/Wagner’s last season.

5150 P.O.A.D

September 29th, 2010
1:47 am

Jeff did you have a sack dinner for the game tonight? I am guessing some Brie, a Croissant, and a bottle or Bordeaux! No matter whta it was you helped the Braves Mojo. Keep It Up.

Gen Neyland

September 29th, 2010
1:47 am

Simple. Braves must take care of business. The bench has been relied upon all year, so what’s new..? Padres will fold but with a fight. San Fran will do their job. It’s not the upcoming Phillies series that really bothers me tonight, it’s the possibility of who we’ll see in the opening round if the stars align.

Gen Neyland

September 29th, 2010
1:48 am

Enter your comments here

Buzzboy

September 29th, 2010
3:43 am

All the Braves need to do from here on out is to play one game over 500 in each series and they will be World Champs!!!

[...] Braves still upright despite losing Prado Eric Hinske and Brooks Conrad led another Braves win. What exactly are the baseball gods waiting for? For Bobby Cox to scream, “Uncle?” The question now isn’t just whether the Braves can drag themselves across the finish line of this regular season, the last spasm somehow getting them into the playoffs. [...]

Back on the Bandwagon

September 29th, 2010
4:34 am

I admit I have been everything from a disgusted to a rabid Braves fan this year. Regardless of what happens in the next 4 games, I will give this team
the credit it deserves for not folding which could have been excusable under the circumstances.

Win One for the Gimper(s)

September 29th, 2010
5:11 am

interesting to note the opening day lineup compared to the lineup now:

M. Cabrera lf – - O. Infante 2b
M. Prado 2b – - J. Heyward rf
C. Jones 3b – - B. McCann c
B. McCann c – - D. Lee 1b
T. Glaus 1b – - M. Cabrera lf
Y. Escobar ss – - A. Gonzalez ss
J. Heyward rf – - B. Conrad 3b
N. McLouth cf – - R. Ankiel cf
D. Lowe p – - T. Hudson p

Tim

September 29th, 2010
5:33 am

This season just continues to magnify the excellent manager that Bobby Cox is. And, these guys are ballplayers. Whether they make the wildcard not, my hat is off to each of them.

Brad in Jasper

September 29th, 2010
6:55 am

Thank you, Jeff, for quoting one of my favorite and funniest movies of all time. (appropriate as well). If you can slide some Blazing Saddles in there, I’ll really be impressed. Maybe um – “I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, Hinskes, Conrads, Omars, and so on.”

I love these guys, I really do. If the Phils keep up their pitching, though, it frankly doesn’t make a damn who we or anyone else throw at them. Anyhting can happen come October, and that’s why we watch. Go Braves!

rc35

September 29th, 2010
7:18 am

It’s a shame that Prado had to get hurt to get Conrad into the lineup. I don’t want any more injuries, but Bobby needs to get Hinske into the lineup. As weak as his hitting has always been, I’d even like to see Diory Hernandez in for A-Gon at least once during the homestand. Finally, what happened to Ross? It seems a day off for McCann would be in order here somewhere.

Baba O'Riley

September 29th, 2010
7:25 am

If the Braves finish 2-2, they will AT LEAST be in a one-game playoff for the Wildcard

Baba O'Riley

September 29th, 2010
7:26 am

Ross may play today with Andrew Miller pitching.

jo

September 29th, 2010
7:43 am

This team is not very good but they have heart and that can make a poor team be good at times. let’s hope they have enough in the tank because it is a nice story!

dean

September 29th, 2010
7:52 am

If the Braves actually pull this off, I don’t want to be the opposing team. Butch Cassidy said it best, “Who ARE those guys?”

jfreak13713

September 29th, 2010
7:54 am

This Braves team has proven me an idiot more times than I can count this year! I give up! I’m just going to watch and learn.

Jim Clancy

September 29th, 2010
8:01 am

This team is amazing. Back in May I tried to convince my coworkers this team was playing over their heads and would play down to their abilities eventually. Thankfully I was wrong. I’ve never been more convinced BC is the best manager ever. To have this team even in this position just further proves that. And to those who say the Braves have no chance if they get in the playoffs? Look at a team like the ‘88 Dodgers. On paper that’s the worst WS team ever. But they won. Anything is possible.