THIS BLOG GOES LIVE WITH THE FIRST PITCH AT 7:35 P.M.
On the night the Braves can clinch their first postseason berth since 2005, Brandon Beachy is their starting pitcher. How perfect is this?
Beachy was signed as an undrafted free agent. He started this year in Double A Mississippi. He pitched in only eight games at Triple A Gwinnett before being recalled as a game-night emergency when Jair Jurrjens couldn’t make his start because of a knee injury. His first major league start: at Philadelphia.
The Braves open a three-game series against the Phillies tonight at Turner Field. By now, you know the ramifications. The Braves aren’t fighting for the National League East title, as they were going into that series at Philly, but they can clinch the N.L. wild card spot tonight/this morning.
The magic number for eliminating San Diego is two. The Padres play at San Francisco, beginning at 10:15 p.m. EDT. How late will are you willing to stay up?
This entire Braves’ season has been a series of changed plans. So it figures Beachy would be on the mound with so much on the line.
There have been over a hundred lineups, failed experiments in the outfield and a first baseman (Troy Glaus) who went from the team’s MVP one month to off the radar. Shortstop Yunel Escobar went from a franchise building block to a player the Braves felt they needed to move for somebody more stable (Alex Gonzalez).
Injuries? Can’t list them all here. It would shut down the servers. But the key ones have been well-chronicled: Chipper Jones, Martin Prado, Kris Medlen, Jurrjens. Then there were the career devolutions of Kenshin Kawakami and, on another level, Jordan Schafer (remember him?).
So tonight it’s Beachy, who wasn’t even 0n the 40-man roster before being summoned.
If the Braves don’t get it done tonight, the odds of them closing this thing out are heavily in their favor: 1) Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson are scheduled to pitch the next two games; 2) The series means nothing to the Phillies and they’re expected to rest several regulars (tonight’s scheduled starter, Roy Halladay, was pulled for Kyle Kendrick); 3) the Padres seem to have hit a wall — they’re 12-22 since Aug. 26 — and close with a difficult series against West-leading San Francisco.
Then again, nothing about this season has been predictable, so I think I’ll just wait for some finality.
One last thing before I turn it over to you: I’ve heard from several fans who’ve actually said they don’t care if the Braves make the playoffs because their roster is so depleted that they’ll probably get waxed anyway.
I don’t get that. This team has gone five years without a postseason berth. Why would anybody not what their team back in the playoffs? Would the Braves be an underdog to any opponent? Sure. But the point right now is just getting back there, and then you see what happens.
We’ve certainly seen enough strange occurrences in past years to know postseasons don’t always go by the script. I also can think of no better way for Bobby Cox to go out than with one more shot in his final season.
That’s it for now. I’ll check back later. Then we’ll go live with this blog at game time tonight.
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SACK SCHULTZ: Making a little comeback. Went 12-3 last week and I’m at 43-17 through four. Leaders are “JohnDaly” (that one?), “Tuckys,” “Tola” and “Terrijaca” at 52-8. They cheat. Note to all: You’re going down. Want to join the fun? Click here for details and then here to enter.