(UPDATED: 5:40 p.m. with quotes below)
(Next post will follow conclusion of San Diego-San Francisco game)
If the Braves made it to the postseason this year, didn’t you just know they would do it in the most dramatic way possible?
After being held to three or fewer runs in eight of their last 11 games, the Braves jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first six innings Sunday and then had to hold on for an 8-7 win over Philadelphia at Turner Field.
The win clinched, well, at least one more game. The Braves won’t learn their fate until after completion of the San Diego-San Francisco game (which started at 4:05 p.m.). Here are the two possibilities:
♦ If the Padres lose, the Braves are in the postseason as the National League wild card and will open the divisional series Thursday night in San Francisco.
♦ If the Padres defeat the Giants, the Braves must wait for those two teams to play again on Monday to decide the N.L. West Division title. Then they will host the losing team for the wild card on Tuesday at Turner Field (a night game is more likely than a day game because the Padres or Giants would be traveling from the West Coast).
The highlight of Sunday’s game was a four-run, five-hit fourth inning that included a run-scoring single by Brooks Conrad, a go-ahead RBI single by pitcher Tim Hudson and a two-run triple by Omar Infante. It was win No. 91 for the Braves and No. 2,504 for manager Bobby Cox.
Hudson allowed only two hits in seven innings — both two-run homers by John Mayberry and Jayson Werth. Werth’s clout closed the scored to 8-4, and the Phillies added three more runs in the fifth off relievers Jonny Venters (two unearned runs) and Billy Wagner. But Wagner then closed it out in the ninth.
As for what happens next, you’re just going to have to wait a little longer.
UPDATE: Back up from the Braves clubhouse. REO Speedwagon is playing on the field. They’re using the main video board in center field while the Padres-Giants game plays on the smaller screen to the left. The line score also is on the left field message board. Braves players are watching on TV in the clubhouse, cheering on the Giants (who as of this update lead 2-0 in the fifth). Meanwhile, here are a few postgame quotes.
♦ Manager Bobby Cox: “We’d rather [clinch a playoff spot] tonight and do our celebrating tonight but if it’s Tuesday it’s Tuesday.”
♦ Pitcher Tim Hudson on clinching at least a one-game playoff on the last day of the regular season: “It’s just become our personality. We just hang around and scrap and just scratch and claw to the very end. We haven’t been a team that’s going to blow your doors off all year. We do the best we can.”
♦ Outfield Matt Diaz, on whether he feels more relieved than excited: “I would say there’s a sense of accomplishment. We don’t want to sell ourselves short in that there’s a lot of teams finishing up their last game of the season and we’re not one of them. If we have to play one more game to get into the playoffs, we’ll do that. We’d much rather be playing one more game than no more games.”
♦ Closer Billy Wagner (who’s retiring after the season): “We’ll watch this game and see if we play a playoff game Tuesday. It doesn’t matter to us. We have one more day to extend our careers.”
Next post will come following the conclusion of the Padres-Giants.