LIVE BLOG: Can Braves keep the miracle run going?

stadium

AT&T Park is the Braves' re-entry point into the postseason.

SAN FRANCISCO — Took a jog along The Embarcadero this morning, the Bay on the left and Coit Tower on my right, and passed a homeless guy (I assume) who sat with a change box and holding this sign: “Let’s be honest. I just need a beer.”

The guy deserved a six-pack just for the honesty, but I didn’t have one on me.

Now some of you are probably going to flip on the Braves’ playoff opener tonight and think, “Let’s be honest. We’re just happy to be here.” And you would be correct. I’ve been in several winning locker rooms after championships before and I’ve never witnessed a greater eruption of pure joy than I saw in the Braves’ clubhouse last Sunday after players watched the San Diego Padres lose to San Francisco on television, enabling Atlanta to clinch the National League wild card berth.

But now that the Braves are here, is it really so far-fetched to think they won’t win this series against the Giants? Not at all. They have a solid chance to move on against (almost certainly) Philadelphia in the NLCS.

The Giants are good but not overwhelming. The Braves have three strong starting pitchers (Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson) and a solid bullpen. Their lineup has been depleted by injuries and their defense has been shoddy, but this is a team that has found unusual ways to win all season and led the majors in final at-bat victories (25) and the National League in come-from-behind wins (46, two less than the New York Yankees).

Besides, Braves’ fans should be aware of how anything can happen in the postseason, particularly in the first round, given the number of NLDS exits during the 14-year division title run (five).

Lowe has been rolling of late (5-0, 1.17 ERA in September) and he’ll need to roll tonight because he’s opposed by the Giants’ two-time Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum. The Braves’ best chance this series is to win low-scoring games. Offensively at least, their key player could turn out to be first baseman Derrek Lee, the late-season acquisition meant to make up for the loss of Chipper Jones. Lee was a member of the 2003 Florida World Series team, as was shortstop Alex Gonzalez.

Another obvious key bat: Catcher Brian McCann: I’ll get into this more later in the game column but McCann is one of only three players on the active roster from the Braves’ last playoff team in 2005. He was a rookie when he hit a three-run homer off of Houston pitcher Roger Clemens in the NLDS. Also on that team was Hudson and reliever Kyle Farnsworth (who obviously left and was reacquired). It’s pretty amazing that the team has turned over that much.

Before I turn it over to you, I have run into some Braves fans here (but not many).

Braves' fan Jerry Brewer, standing in front of the Willie Mays statue.

Braves' fan Jerry Brewer, standing in front of the Willie Mays statue.

Jerry Brewer of Roswell, whose son plays baseball at Centennial High School and trains at the instructional school of Howie McCann (Brian’s father), was outside the stadium Thursday, looking for a ticket. “I was going to be here on business anyway and then  Sunday happened, so lo and behold I’m here,” he said.

Brewer actually planned to attend the Friday game. “I’m literally swinging through town on the way to Stockton,” he said. “I tried to do StubHub but the prices kept going up. So I figured I’d make one last-ditch effort and see if I could find a scalper. My best hope is that the Braves win tonight so prices will go down for [Friday's game].”

Will Lopez lives in San Francisco but became a Braves fan through his grandmother, who originally is from Atlanta. “I started following them when they had Jeff Blauser, Walt Weiss, Fred McGriff,” he said. “I think they’ve got a

Will Lopez (with Antoinette Navarro) became a Braves' fan through his grandmother, who is from Atlanta.

Will Lopez (with Antoinette Navarro) became a Braves' fan through his grandmother, who is from Atlanta.

good chance. They’re a young team and fun to watch. Even though it’s Bobby Cox’s last year, hopefully this will be a trend.”

Braden Bates, 24, who’s from Sacramento, came to the game with his girlfriend Sarah Rodriguez, who bought him a Braves shirt for his birthday. “They’re the first team I can ever remember cheering for,” he said. “I was a pitcher in high school and college so I guess I just latched onto them. John Smoltz was my favorite player.”

His outlook on the series: “They’ve got it in the bag. This  [Giants] team hits  a lot of ground balls and their playing a team that gets a lot of ground balls defensively.”

Way to break it down. Now we’ll see how it really goes.

Any thoughts before the first pitch?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

1,417 comments Add your comment

Mike

October 7th, 2010
7:46 pm

Braves series win in 4.

Jeff

October 7th, 2010
7:46 pm

just win

October 7th, 2010
7:49 pm

lets win one for the skipper…go braves

Jeff

October 7th, 2010
7:50 pm

The Hanson game is pivotal. If he has command of his pitches and can deliver a win, he wil either put us up 2-0, or prevent us from going down 2-0.

Kona Buzz

October 7th, 2010
7:51 pm

Quick question Jeff – who is the 3rd catcher with this 25 man roster? I know I should know, but…

The Temporary Mascot formerly known as Russ

October 7th, 2010
7:58 pm

Enter your comments here

OX

October 7th, 2010
7:58 pm

Kona – matt diaz or emergency call up of boscan

SR

October 7th, 2010
7:59 pm

Long time Braves fan who has been here in the SF Bay Area for 20+ years. Ever hopeful but can’t agree with you man, the way I see this series playing out is Giants will hit and as has been the case most of the season, Braves won’t. Giants pitching will strangle Braves and Braves pitching won’t be able to keep up. Giants will sweep here and Braves might win 1 game in ATL. Will hurt to see it happen but don’t see series coming back here. Now, if they prove me wrong, I will be ecstatic and will man up and eat some crow. Enjoy your stay in the Bay Area. Fleet Week is happening so you will see/hear Blue Angels tomorrow as they start practice runs over the Bay!

The Nature Boy

October 7th, 2010
7:59 pm

JS is meeting new friends and having fun…..hope you resisted the ice cream…(I work in HR for the ajc) come on Braves let’s get a “w”..see the Rangers…for inspiration

DoninTococca

October 7th, 2010
8:00 pm

The only thing I regret is….game time here in Georgia. I gonna try but late games and I are one sided… I start okay but by the 5th or 6th inning I’m gone to dream land. Then I wake up and it’s all over.
So, I’m just saying…….GO BRAVES!!

The Temporary Mascot formerly known as Russ

October 7th, 2010
8:01 pm

Pushing the send button with paws is tricky. I messed up a few minutes ago. I hope it is my last mistake this week. Go Braves.

Tommy Rich

October 7th, 2010
8:02 pm

the power of beer > watching the Braves game

Tommy Rich @ Russ

October 7th, 2010
8:04 pm

Now that you aren’t the mascot it should be dog utopia…no more science diet you can eat Alpo and table scraps…..(and have runny popo) yes..??? you won…

drowningboy

October 7th, 2010
8:05 pm

Bellefay

October 7th, 2010
8:05 pm

This 9:30 something first pitch gives plenty of time to get sufficiently lubricated.

Go Braves. Let’s continue to ruin the city of San Francisco 4 days later.

Business Man

October 7th, 2010
8:05 pm

They are not carrying a third catcher this series.

Fart Gargunkel

October 7th, 2010
8:06 pm

What’s the lineup??

Napper

October 7th, 2010
8:07 pm

My DVR will be working Overtime tonight and Friday Night…Damn these late games!

I'm a Barber

October 7th, 2010
8:07 pm

I want to cut Timmy’s hair…I wouldn’t use scissors….that dammm hippie…all you’d hear is a buzzing sound and him whining like a little girl…boys have short hair….next case your honor

todd grantham

October 7th, 2010
8:09 pm

beating the Giants to eventually face the Phillies is like saying “gee, lucky i avoided that “bridge out” sign” and driving right into the river.

Todd is a bad man

October 7th, 2010
8:12 pm

I was buddies with a kid in HS that put a turrd in the water fountain…Are you him..??

Innocent Bystander

October 7th, 2010
8:14 pm

Haha JS you ran into my dad in San Fran! He called me earlier to tell me he was at the park, but didn’t mention he was gonna have his photo in your article.

todd grantham

October 7th, 2010
8:16 pm

I hope magic strikes for Bobby with a World Series title, but the odds seem to be pretty long.

Oregon Brave

October 7th, 2010
8:18 pm

Never know how a team will respond to the pressures that accompany the playoffs. And how will being off since Sunday affect the two teams? Hopefully the Giants will come out cold and the Braves forget their bad batting habits. Whatever the outcome, it’s a good day to be a fan of this collection of overachievers. Go Braves.

"Chef" Tim Dix

October 7th, 2010
8:20 pm

Goose eggs in the error column will define the Braves performance in the series.

“Naughts” in the first three games equal Braves sweep.

There, the Cheffy said it.

Jeff, stay off the wharf, sea lion attacks up 87% year to date.

Yunel Asscobar

October 7th, 2010
8:21 pm

Jeff – thanks for a good article and for bringing sanity back to the sports page. After Bradley’s read re: UGA winning the SEC east, I thought the AJC had popped for medicinal marijuana as a tool of inspiration to counteract writer’s cramp.

Bellefay

October 7th, 2010
8:23 pm

I just read of Reed’s bet about flying the San Francisco flag if we lose. Does San Francisco UPS us a flag or does Blakes on the Park or Bulldogs just donate one?

DC Braves Fan

October 7th, 2010
8:24 pm

Jeff,

A little surprised to see Diaz starting instead of Hinske or Melky against a righty.

Larry Jr not Chipper

October 7th, 2010
8:24 pm

Okay Bobby … It’s the year of the pitcher … these Braves are not the Braves of old … These Giants are not the Giants of old … It’s time to step out of the box … get inspried and … PLAY SOME SMALLBALL DAMMIT !!! GO BRAVOS !!!

JASon

October 7th, 2010
8:25 pm

Jeff, you are missing a key point in your argument: the braves are 4-3 against San Francisco this season and teed off on Lincecum the last time we faced him. There is no question that we are lucky to be facing them instead of cincinnati. But with our crap defense, you never know what can happen.

Smokin

October 7th, 2010
8:26 pm

Braves win with pitching and well timed hits. Betcha loose count of all those stupid panda hats.
GO Braves!!!!

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJC , ajc sports editor, ajcgatech, Vinny Deuce, Oscar Combs and others. Oscar Combs said: RT @ajc: RT @JeffSchultzAJC: LIVE BLOG: Can Braves keep the miracle run going? http://bit.ly/cR5K6R [...]

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:31 pm

Troy Glaus is the X factor in this series.

Jt

October 7th, 2010
8:32 pm

Got little expectations- lots of hope. Everything is gravy! However, gonna be pissed when they bow out. Giants are very beatable- got to make above average plays on infield defense. Won’t take many hits to win -just some timely ones

kaminari

October 7th, 2010
8:34 pm

Braves win tonight, tomorrow, then take the next one at home. Sweep.

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:35 pm

Gotta be careful Pitching to Posey in This Series..

GT Falcon

October 7th, 2010
8:35 pm

I recently moved to New England and already planned on attending the Falcons Eagles game next weekend. If the Bravos win and the Phills win they will be playing in Philly next weekend. That means I could possibly attend a Braves NLCS game and Falcons game in the same weekend and get a taste of home. Now I’m even more jacked up for a Braves win. GO BRAVOS!!!!!

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:37 pm

What is Huddys all time record vs the giants, im sure being in oakland with interleague play, plus his atlanta years he has to have had a large number of games vs them…?

For that matter what about Hanson and Lowe?

jimmymack

October 7th, 2010
8:38 pm

we have exceeded our talent.anything from now on will be because of heart and a refusal to quit

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:39 pm

GT Falcon, Im thinking about takeing a job in Allentown PA, what is it like up there?

Beach Dawg

October 7th, 2010
8:39 pm

Schultzie,

Glad you’re there relaxing and not continuing your bashing of my Dawgs!! I am really beginning to think that you are Tech Homer.

Braves in 5!!!!

JSS

October 7th, 2010
8:40 pm

@ Jeff Schultz…
Tell Will he is dating up!!! SF homeless can take ATM/Debit st specific locations…

sid's bream

October 7th, 2010
8:40 pm

It’s all on D Lowe bringing the stuff he has had in September, the defense not making errors on the ground balls he gets, and the offense getting to Tim early or the bullpen late.
okay, not rocket science- but it is what it is.

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:41 pm

Beach Dawg.. gonna have another TN vs GA 45-19 win this year? Go Vols…

GT Falcon

October 7th, 2010
8:42 pm

Matt,
It is definitely a little different up here. So far I’ve enjoyed it. I haven’t been through winter though…..

Matt

October 7th, 2010
8:43 pm

Honestly they dont gotta get to the freak early cause the Giants offense is pretty much the same as the Braves, they have sparks every now and then but overall theres a power outage…

make'em believe!

October 7th, 2010
8:43 pm

braves need to be patient against lincecum running the counts up. get to the giants bp, and use the depth of our bp as needed. should be a great watch!

sid's bream

October 7th, 2010
8:45 pm

If they somehow win this series, it would take a frickin miracle for the bravos to get past philly though. baseball gods would definitely have to be shining on them; that or the phillies would have to all come down with swine flu.

make'em believe!

October 7th, 2010
8:46 pm

this team feels like that team from the early 90’s that started it all. its jus atlanta, they’ll fold up like a lawn chair….

Heath

October 7th, 2010
8:46 pm

Somewhere, Chief Noca-A-Homa is dancing.