Hello. Wasn’t this supposed to be the just-sit-and-relax day?
Two days ago, the Braves arrived at the ballpark believing they had the National League wild card about wrapped up, and so did most of us. Their magic number to clinch was two. They had an upcoming series against Philadelphia, which already had the East Division wrapped up and had scratched two scheduled starters (Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt).
The team chasing the Braves: San Diego, which was reeling and going to San Francisco for three games. This didn’t seem to be an issue.
But here we are. Two Braves losses (11-5 and 7-0) and two Padres wins later, the teams are tied and Turner Field is panic central. The Bobby Cox celebrations have been dwarfed. The Braves have the right guy on the mound today, Tim Hudson. He’ll be opposed by Cole Hamels, but for possibly only two innings. Oswalt also may pitch an inning or two.
The Braves game starts at 1:35 p.m. If they win, they’ll clinch at least a one-game playoff. If they lose, they have to hope the Padres also lose. In either case, they must wait for the end of the Padres-Giants game, which starts at 4:05 p.m. EDT.
OK, here are the four win-lose, Braves-Padres-Giants scenarios:
♦ Braves win; Padres lose: Easy. Braves win the wild card and face the West champion Giants beginning Thursday.
♦ Braves win; Padres win: Mayhem. There is a three-way tie between all three teams and two — TWO — one-game playoffs for the first time in history. The Padres and Giants would play 0n Monday. The winner would be the division champion. The loser would come to Atlanta for a one-game playoff to determine the wild card Tuesday.
♦ Braves lose, Padres lose: Giants win the West and the Braves and Padres have a playoff Monday at Turner Field to determine the wild card.
♦ Braves lose, Padres win: Braves are out and the Padres are in as the wild card.
Here’s the optimist’s view: There’s only one out of four scenarios (Braves lose, Padres win) in which the Braves don’t play at least one more game after today.
Here’s the pessimist’s view: That’s the scenario we’ve witnessed the last two nights.
One more thing: Cox has made a significant lineup change, shifting Brooks Conrad from third base to second base and moving Omar Infante to third. Conrad’s two errors led to seven unearned runs in the first two games of this series.
That’s it for now. I’m heading down to the field for batting practice and I’ll be back up shortly. Chat with you soon.
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