LIVE: Braves’ improbable road to playoffs almost complete

Yes, Billy Wagner: The Braves are pointed up. (AP photo)

Yes, Billy Wagner: The Braves are pointed up. (AP photo)

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.

Step one of the preparations for the Bobby Cox ceremonies Saturday is complete.

Step one of the preparations for the Bobby Cox ceremonies Saturday is complete.

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Last 3 posts

Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Jackets win (Dogs? Feh)

Falcons vs. Steelers is suddenly a hot Super Bowl pick

Braves may get a helping hand to postseason — from Phillies

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LogoGrass_652173aSACK 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.

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716 comments Add your comment

anderson jones

October 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

Let’s do this baby. I am going to get goosebumps during Bobby’s tribute. Can’t wait!

Byron

October 1st, 2010
12:29 pm

Caleb

October 1st, 2010
12:30 pm

Byron

October 1st, 2010
12:30 pm

well, let’s try second….But go Braves!!!!!

Caleb

October 1st, 2010
12:30 pm

Where is Troy Glaus? Any idea of whether he will figure into this final series or possibly the playoffs?

mechabradzilla

October 1st, 2010
12:31 pm

First..Oh and your Mothra Mr. Schultz :(

BravesFan

October 1st, 2010
12:32 pm

Chanticleer

October 1st, 2010
12:36 pm

For those who say they don’t care if the Braves make the playoffs;I fart in your general direction.

mechabradzilla

October 1st, 2010
12:36 pm

Anyone seeing Hatchet 2 this weekend?

THE CURSE OF DAVID JUSTICE WILL BE BROKEN THIS YEAR

October 1st, 2010
12:37 pm

I TOLD YALL WE WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES AS A WILDCARD TEAM,THE TEAM THAT GETS HOT RIGHT BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS WILL WIN,AND THATS US!

P.S. THE FEELIES WILL RUN RUN OUTTA GAS! BRAVES 2010 WORLD SERIES CHAMPS! YOU HEARD IT RIGHT HERE!

REMEMBER I SAID IT JEFF!

THE CURSE OF DAVID JUSTICE WILL BE BROKEN THIS YEAR

October 1st, 2010
12:41 pm

LET’S GO TROY! LET’S GO TROY!

GLAUS WILL BE THE GUY WE NEED TO GET US OVER THE HUMP DURING THE PLAYOFFS,REMEMBER PEOPLE HE CARRIED US TO FIRST PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON,BEFORE THE LEE TRADE!

P.S. 2010 WORLD SERIES CHAMPS(BRAVES) SPEAK IT PEOPLE

Gonna Miss Bobby, That's For Darn Sure

October 1st, 2010
12:44 pm

Well said Chanticleer! May the Knights Who Say Nee pay those ne’er do wells a visit. . .

JoshTown

October 1st, 2010
12:47 pm

Nicely put, Jeff! Braves Fever in Braves Nation. I’ve been out in LA the last few years unfortunately, but I can promise you I’ll be following the SD game tonight as well. Game 160 baby!

Hankie Aron

October 1st, 2010
12:47 pm

Jeff,
Any “fan” that calls themselves a “fan” should want the Braves to make the playoffs. As a true fan after all this team has been through, making the playoffs is enough for me. I am amazed that somehow we still have a dog left in this fight

GT Trumpet

October 1st, 2010
12:47 pm

Almost hope the WC isn’t clenched by Sunday so that the game I’m attending will mean something. But at the end of the day I just want this rag-tag team back in the playoffs. Go Braves!

hayleydrew

October 1st, 2010
12:47 pm

c’mon guys!!! for Bobby!!

Pete

October 1st, 2010
12:48 pm

Friday’s game against the Phillies is one of the BIGGEST games of Cox’s career, so who does he send out to pitch ??
Some kid named Beachy………. who will probably puke on the mound before the first pitch.

Peachy.

SadDawg

October 1st, 2010
12:51 pm

Right, Jeff. Just get to the postseason and see what happens.

What if Mac and Heyward start hitting at the same time (for a change)? Heinski and Lee? If three of those four get hot, the Braves breeze through the first series.

We’ve seen the better teams fall to less talented teams over and over through the years: Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, Mets, Dodgers, and others.

Traver

October 1st, 2010
12:56 pm

Its Bobby’s best job. Saved the best for the last. On paper, they have no business being in this position given everything that has happened. But that means nothing. They are scrappy and they are resilient. Just like their manager. They could still miss the playoffs but they won’t. And when/if they get it in, there is no telling what might happen. I could see them not winning a game just as easily as I could see them winning it all. Regardless, this season was an awesome job by an awesome manager who took a lemon and made lemonade.

Jeff Schultz

October 1st, 2010
12:58 pm

Caleb — He’s available off the bench but don’t expect him to start.

VinceVanGo

October 1st, 2010
12:59 pm

The Braves can ride their big three starters(Lowe/Hanson/Hudson) and bullpen for a nice ride in the playoffs IF, and I mean IF they get some timing hitting. I’ve been saying it all year and one of the ESPN analysts said it Thursday night–get Eric Hinske in the lineup. Why? He’s a veteran, he hits, and he’s a World series magnet over the last 3 years(my reasons, not the ESPN guy). And put Matt Diaz in there every day too. Matt’s a spark plug and every muscle car I remember had 8 cylinders. That’s eight guys on the field not counting the pitcher. The pitcher is the engine, the team on the field the cylinders. Am I making sense guys. Does McClouth. Ankiel, or Cabrera seem like a spark plug to you? If so they must be fouled up and need replacing, hence Diaz and Hinske. I hope Bobby Cox reads this or gets told about it. The engine and eight cylinders “word picture”. It’s important in baseball too. Get the best(Un fouled) spark plugs on the field with the engine and watch her purrrrrrrr! Okay I’m done.

SadDawg

October 1st, 2010
1:00 pm

No huge Bobby fan here, by Pete, he probably decided we were better off letting Hanson and Huddy pitch on normal rest Sat and Sun, than moving them up for Friday. I can understand that.

Our starting staff really took hits this season with KK tanking, and Jurrjens and Medlen out. The good news is Lowe’s 5-0 record in Sept. Not to bad sending out Lowe, Hanson and Huddy in any postseason series.

ew

October 1st, 2010
1:07 pm

Wild Card would be a fitting name for us if we make the playoffs. YOU NEVER KNOW. If our bats can find a way to come alive, anything can happen. All we need is a seat at the table. LET’S GO BRAVES!

SadDawg

October 1st, 2010
1:09 pm

Jeff, I hope Bobby doesn’t trot out Farnsworth the rest of the season. Ugh, he is terrible under pressure. Surely Bobby won’t, not with Dunn and Martinez performing so well in mid-relief. Kimbrel, Moylan, Venters, Saito and Wagner rond out the very best bullpen in MLB.

SadDawg

October 1st, 2010
1:10 pm

..round out..

bruce mac

October 1st, 2010
1:10 pm

I don’t see Braves getting past the best team I have seen in a long time (The Phiadelphia Phillies) but it still is a couple more chances to go to the Ted and enjoy Major League Baseball and see if the band of blue collar no names can win a few more.

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:11 pm

Glaus hasn’t even sniffed a pinch hit at-bat in a week has he?

JTH

October 1st, 2010
1:18 pm

Are you ready?

Twelfth Man

October 1st, 2010
1:18 pm

I believe. The only opponent that we don’t match up with on paper is the Phillies and anything is possible if Hudson, Hanson & Lowe throw good games. Plus we have the Raw Dog, Brooks Conrad who seems to have a pension for coming through when it’s needed most.

Jeff Schultz

October 1st, 2010
1:19 pm

Kentavo — 1 for 10.

Braves Fan Since "80

October 1st, 2010
1:20 pm

I am not a huge fan of the Braves players individually with the exception of pitching and three position players now…… but I will pull for them until the season is over…. If the won the World Series I would still have questions…….. With that being said I expect Lee, GonZales, Mcann, Nate to play better…… I do not expect the Heyward to struggle but come up with big hits…. this team has been in playoff mode since September and they have faced the best team in baseball more than anyone else

Kevin

October 1st, 2010
1:22 pm

Vince,

There’s no way we could throw both Hinske and Diaz out there at the same time. Heyward is not going to play CF this year and most likely never will unless really needed.

I’d like to see this lineup opening game of the NLDS…..

1. Infante- 2B
2. Heyward- RF
3. McCann- C
4. Lee – 1B
5. Gonzalez- SS
6. Hinske- LF
7. Conrad- 3B
8. Melky/McLouth/Ankiel- CF

It’s really going to depend on who’s hot in CF for Bobby. I personally think Ankiel would be the best option because he plays the best defense and he’s been coming around lately but I think he has to only play vs. rightys and then come off the bench for late inning defense.

jfreak13713

October 1st, 2010
1:22 pm

I’ll start by stating how proud I am of this team and the job Cox has done helping them get to this point. I’m no Cox fan but I don’t hate the guy either. You want to talk about a guy who SHOULD be considered for manager of the year, COX! Terrific job this year Cox, terrific!

Now, lets get to the reality of this situation and put emotions aside. The reality is that the Braves are just to beat up to really pose a threat to the Phillies or the Reds. I think they have a good chance against the Giants because pitching will equal out and the Braves seem to get the BIG hits late in games. But the Phillies and the Reds score 4 runs on nights when the other teams pitcher is pitching lights out. So I don’t think they can score enough to beat either the Phillies or the Reds in a seven game series.

Regardless of potential future events I hope Braves fans will come out in droves to support this team and enjoy whatever happens going forward. I rule nothing out with this team. NOTHING!

Kevin

October 1st, 2010
1:25 pm

Also, Melky has been arguable the best hitter in the lineup for the LF/CF combination but his defense has looked awful lately and I’d rather take my chances with Ankiel in CF than rubber arm Melky who looked terrible on that double to Brad Davis the other day in LF.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by hayleydrew, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Braves' improbable road to playoffs almost complete (and how late will you stay up to watch Padres' game?). http://bit.ly/ah7oPM [...]

Tyler Langmeyer

October 1st, 2010
1:30 pm

bruce mac: I agree the Phillies are very talented, but we can beat them. We had three close games in Philly last week when our two best pitchers didn’t even start. If we play them in the postseason, it’ll be in the NLCS where 3 games will be at Turner Field. I’m pretty sure we’ll win 2 out of 3 this weekend, possibly sweep. It’s looking like we’ll get the Giants in the NLDS, which would match up two even teams. This team is better than everyone is giving them credit for.

K.K.

October 1st, 2010
1:30 pm

I better than Beachy, start me Bobby.

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:31 pm

I’ve watched most of the games this year, so I’ll say the Braves will blow it tonight, and definitely tomorrow since there’s a big celebration for Booby, and will have to pull it out on Sunday, with Hudson pitching a gem.

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:34 pm

As for watching the Pads-Giants, hell yeah, I’m staying up for that; I’ve been staying up for the West Coast games for the last couple of weeks thanks to MLB Networks (which I love, btw); I probably won’t even get a chance to watch the Braves game as I’ve got another commitment; but I’ll be getting home in time to Pads-G-men.

Braves Fan Since "80

October 1st, 2010
1:34 pm

Melky has playoff experience and is a role player, Ankiel and Gonzales both have experience…. we need those guys to play hard and do no harm……. Conrad is a playoff rookie and the wildcard….. He reminds me of one of those guys that bats 460 in the playoffs and not be on the squad the next year…. He needs to do what Infante and Prado have done with opportunities before him…. Good Luck Conrad

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

Melky’s arm is not the problem; it’s certainly stronger than McClouth’s.

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:36 pm

And Conrad’s D at the hot corner has me very nervous.

lawzoo

October 1st, 2010
1:37 pm

Hudson and Beachy and everything’s peachy !( Apologies to Spahn and Sain and pray for rain)

Poetry just ain’t that hard.

balismith

October 1st, 2010
1:39 pm

hope bobby goes out in style with the braves making the playoffs…anything else would be gravey

braveshoo

October 1st, 2010
1:40 pm

I agree with the poster above. Henske and Diaz need to play in LF. Ankiel and McClouth can play CF, but should never bat. Start Ankiel and pinch hit for him with Glaus when its his turn to bat. Insert McClouth in CF and pinch hit the rookie 1B when its his turn to bat. Then insert Melky in CF. You still have DIaz or Henske( whichever one isnt starting to pinch hit in the late innings for the pitcher. I think Lowe, Hudson and Hanson match up well with the Phillies big 3; our hitting isnt as good, but our bench and our bullpen is better, if we will use it. I definitely think we have a chance. I can see us losing in the ist round, or wining it all. The playoffs are a total crapshoot.

Bernard

October 1st, 2010
1:41 pm

Again…just win baby!!!

Kentavo

October 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

Huddy, Hanson and Lowe
After that; I don’t know?

Tucker T

October 1st, 2010
1:42 pm

In the first playoff series the Braves can go with Hudson, Hanson, and Lowe as their rotation. Against either the Giants or the Reds I think they will have a fair shot at winning that series. I would rather play the Reds but the Braves actually played the Giants well this season. Now, I don’t think they would stand a chance against the Phils in the NLCS but just getting there would be a huge accomplishment and who knows, maybe the Phils get beat in the first round. We have all seen stranger things happen.

Chop Chop

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

A couple of things here…

1) The Braves were expected to contend for a playoff spot. This has been true ever since 2005.

2) The Braves were atop the division for two-and-a-half months.

It is true that the way in which the Braves have managed to get here is different than how it would have been predicted by many this offseason, but the results are not unexpected. Now, it would be easy to say that “if the Padres hadn’t lost ten straight, then…,” but the Padres were always much more of a fluke than the Braves this season, right? The Braves’ record may be a little bit better than I would have predicted (I was thinking 87-75…something like that), but I certainly believed they could make the postseason.

In fact, I haven’t entered a season believing the Braves wouldn’t make the postseason since 1991.

I was 11.

Yeah. This team’s been pretty good for a long time, so this is no surprise.

Mitchell

October 1st, 2010
1:43 pm

I honestly cannot comprehend how this team went from having the best record in the National League at the All Star break, while at the same time held onto first place in the division for three straight months only to give it away to the Phillies without anything remotely resembling a fight and yet so many people are lining up to say this is Bobby Cox’s best managing job ever.

We’ve come a long way haven’t we?

It’s amazing.

I mean, it’s not Worst to Wild Card. It’s Worst to First.

You don’t win four Manager of the Year awards by blowing seven game leads in your division.

You definitely don’t win your division by going 35-46 on the road. I think that shows you how much his players did for him this year. What are we at now, 24 wins in the last at-bat?

That’s a team stepping up in the clutch trying to win for their manager. But when it’s comes to yet another must-win game against the Phils, he gives us Brandon Beachy.

Yikes.

We haven’t won anything yet.