Forget division, Chipper says Braves can take Philly in playoffs

Martin Prado is mobbed by teammates after his game-winning hit helped the Braves win Sunday. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Martin Prado is mobbed after his game-winning hit capped Braves' comeback. (Curtis Compton)

It would have been easy for the Braves to slip on their rose-colored Annie sunglasses Sunday and proclaim that they’re going to shake the baseball world at its foundation, storm Philadelphia and miraculously come back to win the National League East title. The numbers say it’s just not going to happen.

“Let’s face it,” catcher David Ross said. “Even if we go in there and sweep them, they’ve still got like a five-game lead with 20 games left. So I don’t think they’re in any kind of panic mode.”

No. But notice the Braves also aren’t panicking? In fact, Chipper Jones would tell you they’re relishing a three-game series against the Phillies that opens Monday and he hopes the teams meet again in the postseason — because he believes the Braves can take them.

Start with this: In terms of the National League East Division race, this series doesn’t carry nearly the significance it did two months ago, when the Braves left Philly before the All-Star break trailing by only 3½ games. Since then, Philadelphia is 31-14 and has overpowered several small nations. The Braves are 7½ out — they gained a game! — after Sunday’s 4-3 comeback win over Los Angeles. They have only 23 games left to play. Division title — not happening.

But this series is not without importance. The Braves are a relative lock to win the wild card spot, and that means there’s a possibility of the teams meeting in the postseason. That scenario served as Jones’ launching pad Sunday. If he didn’t quite throw a flaming spear into the ground, he came close.

“We’re what –10 games back in the loss column?” he said before the Philly lost at Florida (which actually left the team only nine losses apart). “I think it’s safe to say the likelihood of them losing 10 games between now and then is slim. So we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we just want to go in and win the series. We want to play well against them. We want to sweep them. The more pressure we put on them, the better.”

Then this: “The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We’ve beaten their big three [starting pitchers Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels]. I’m not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They’re a great ballclub, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not scared of them. It’s going to be a knock down, drag out [fight].”

The Braves can start thinking about the postseason. They’ve got an 8½ game lead over St. Louis for the wild card. (Their magic number is 15.)  Even if the Braves go only 12-11 in their final 23 games, the Cardinals would need to go 20-2 just tie them. So the playoff berth is safe. (The Braves can’t play the Phillies in the first round because they’re in the same division but they could meet for the N.L. pennant.)

“I don’t think anybody is going to cry to their mom if we make it in as a wild card and not win the division,” pitcher Tim Hudson said.

The Braves have survived a blur of issues this season, most recently a decline in health and performance by their starting pitching. Still, they have gone a solid 28-19 since the All-Star break. That’s just too close to mortal to overtake the Phillies (who were 41-12 before losing the last two).

“We’ve had streaks where we’ve gone 7-1, 8-1, and not gained a game,” Dan Uggla said. “But we’re right where we want to be. Of course, we’d rather be leading the division. But we’re [25] games over .500. We’re doing all right. Our goal has just been to get into the playoffs. Then we’ll see where that goes.”

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

166 comments Add your comment

kevin

September 4th, 2011
6:49 pm

Chipper probly wont even be playing in the series……I hope we win tho

Hunter790

September 4th, 2011
6:50 pm

First!?!?! Go Braves. Bring back Chief Knockahoma!!

kevin

September 4th, 2011
6:50 pm

and first for the first time ever…..thats a victory in itself in light of the misery of UGA getting blown out this wkend

Hunter790

September 4th, 2011
6:51 pm

Crap, second, let’s win this series and build on that confidence going into the postseason!

Bill

September 4th, 2011
6:57 pm

Chipper better worry about beating the Brewers before worrying about the Phillies.

jacketinsc

September 4th, 2011
7:03 pm

Hey Jeff, tell Chipper not to worry. The schedule says they can still catch the Phillies. Right?

Mitchell

September 4th, 2011
7:10 pm

Forget division, Chipper says Braves can take Philly in playoffs

Hahahahahahahahaha!!! Ha ha ha! Man, LOL.

That’s funny.

Wait, he’s serious.

Delbert D.

September 4th, 2011
7:10 pm

I like that photo. These guys are loose, and they handle adversity well.

No One Likes You, Mitchell, So Shaddup

September 4th, 2011
7:12 pm

Mitchell

September 4th, 2011
7:15 pm

Sorry, I thought that was a joke.

Nevermind.

Hey, you know… could happen. Anything’s possible. Every dog has his day.

Maybe if the Phillies have a couple really bad games and cough up one or two here and there then, you know, maybe.

You never know. It’s not im-possible.

Certainly not plausable but you can’t predict the future.

We could win a game or two. We’ll see when we get there.

We’ll just take two in Milwaukee and wrap that series up in three and give it our best shot.

Peter

September 4th, 2011
7:19 pm

Whenever Martin Prado is running away from his teammates, you know it’s a good day. :D

Gordon

September 4th, 2011
7:19 pm

Whew thanks Mitchell. I have been reading your posts forever and that seals it. I now know we have a great chance because you think otherwise. I am getting rich on your baseball knowledge. I just go the other way

Obama

September 4th, 2011
7:23 pm

What else could he said? The Phils are too good? No point of playing? Anyway, Chipper had said lot of things that can be say by a five years old.

Gordon

September 4th, 2011
7:23 pm

Damn Mitchell make up your mind.

Wrecker

September 4th, 2011
7:27 pm

Yeah, the Braves can’t match up well against the Phillies, MItchell. /sarcasm off

Pretty sure that we are 6-6 against them this year.

Mitchell

September 4th, 2011
7:30 pm

Then this: “The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason.

Boys and girls, that’s called bulletin board material because as soon as the Brewers see that they’re going to use it as extra motivation to want to kick our @$$, which they probably will anyway if some of the games in the second half this year in which we’ve blown leads of four and five runs is any indication.

Chipper, better be ready to back it up.

jo1vila

September 4th, 2011
7:32 pm

damn i like chipper,positive atitude.

Mitchell

September 4th, 2011
7:35 pm

Oh yeah, you’re right. We are 6-6 against them. Well, that settles is.

If I recall we had the best home record in the majors last year and lost both home playoff games.

Gosh I’m such a cynic. I wonder why.

Sorry, until the Braves actually win a playoff series I am forced to believe that this year will be no different.

Mitchell

September 4th, 2011
7:40 pm

Honestly though, I would be happy with just getting out of the first round.

I don’t think it’s going to happen but if it does anything we do against the Phillies at that point is fine with me.

iTiSi

September 4th, 2011
7:45 pm

If the Braves get the Brewers first, FG will probably rest 2 or 3 of the “big guns” to get ready for the Phils. That seems to be his ongoing philosophy.

Trapper John

September 4th, 2011
8:02 pm

As proven once again today, the Braves seem to play better against the elite pitchers in the league! As long as the Washington Nationals are not in the play-offs — I like our chances. Chipper, being Chipper, pretty much assumed we would beat the Brewers who would be our first opponent. We can’t play the Phillies as the wild card until the second round. Brewers have almost an identical won-loss record as the Braves as of today. Again, I like our chances. Phillies could lose in the first round to the D Backs, or San Fran, or the Cards. It’s baseball. Anything can happen. Braves have solid pitching and probably the best bull pen in all of baseball. San Fran won the World Series last year as a wild card. Braves know they are the wild card team. They can start planning now — hence the young guys getting some looks. Can’t catch the Phillies — and can’t be caught from behind — 8 1/2 up with some twenty odd something to play. Pretty much an ideal situation. If Fredi doesn’t “pull a Bobby” — we could win it all!! GO BRAVES!!!!!!!!

Nova Scotia Steve

September 4th, 2011
8:07 pm

It’s been a decade since the Braves have won a play-off series.

So Mitchell, I’m with you…as far as i’m concerned it’s hard not to be when it comes to this team and its playoff performance.

Until proven otherwise. If I was a betting man….would you bet for or against the Braves making it to the NLCS???? Its an honest question.

Tana

September 4th, 2011
8:08 pm

I think Fredi will have a lot of decisions on his plate when the time comes to set the roster for the postseason. We just added Diaz and Wilson to a roster that was carrying a platoon in Right Field. Now we have three infieders in Wilson, Conrad, and Hinske. We are running out a pitching staff of 6-7 different guys…the younger of the crew seems to handle things a bit better. Does Fredi take the gamble with Hanson and an iffy shoulder or Jurrjen sand his long ball delimma over a solid and efficient Delgado? Who becomes the middle relievers with the issues Sherril and Linebrink have had? Who starts in RF? There will be a lot of decisions to be made this month….and I think everyone is auditioning for a chance to state the purpose towards October play.

dawg4u

September 4th, 2011
8:37 pm

@ Trapper John – the Giants won their division last year and didn’t win as a wild card. The Braves were the wild card team in the NL last year.

G.Wally

September 4th, 2011
8:40 pm

I like Chipper’s attitude.

The Nature Boy

September 4th, 2011
8:46 pm

@dawg4u..you r correct but I still love Trapper’s post…although I hated Pernell Roberts..he screwed the Bonanza folks..and was 2 liberal 4 me as Trapper John MD…

hmmmmmmmm

September 4th, 2011
8:50 pm

if the playoff series goes 7 games can we safely assume Chipper will play in 3-4 of them?

dawg4u

September 4th, 2011
8:50 pm

I liked Pernell Roberts as Adam on Bonanza and when he left the show the other three said that even though they liked him he was always complaining. I liked his character but he was always the odd one in the bunch. Trapper and Adam seemed like two different people to me but the show was pretty good.

Larry

September 4th, 2011
8:58 pm

The Braves must have both lights out pitching and an offensive explosion in the postseason to overcome this buffoon of a manager who can’t even fill out an logical and balanced batting order.

Joseph Allen McWhorter

September 4th, 2011
9:13 pm

Who cares about winning the division. Wild card teams have won the World Series before and I am sure the Braves would take a World Series championship over a division title any day. Hello? Can you say no-brainer!!!

Herschel Talker

September 4th, 2011
9:22 pm

FIRE MARK RICHT!!!!

Supes

September 4th, 2011
9:24 pm

STFU “Bitchel” or should I say Mitchel.

Just relaying a msg from Chipper Jones, he couldn’t make the blog tonight.

Mets R Best

September 4th, 2011
9:29 pm

Well, well. Avoided the sweep did you? Thought you would like to know that the Mighty Mets won again! After the Phillies finish pounding on you, then the Red Hot Mets will be waiting, licking their chops to pound on you some more.

Tremble, Braves fans, tremble.

JASon

September 4th, 2011
9:42 pm

“And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason.”

Already looking past Milwaukee, huh? This says pretty much all that needs to be said about chipper’s leadership on this team. It has hurt us in ways we may never know fully.

Flowery Branch Yellow Jacket

September 4th, 2011
10:40 pm

I don’t get the sense that Chipper is looking past anyone. Just because he hopes to face the Phillies doesn’t mean he’s looking past the Brewers. It simply means that he hopes to beat the Brewers, and he hopes that the Phils beat the West champion. At that point, since we’ve played the Phillies even at this point in the season, we’ve got as good a chance as anyone to take them in the playoffs. I agree with his position, and love the attitude. I hope the entire team shares his confidence.

Dick Tracy

September 4th, 2011
10:45 pm

Pernell Roberts from Waycross, Ga..was very liberal and a smart a@@..after making it big he forgot his friends and family in Waycross…RIH!

Love chipper…
UGA really sucked yesterday.

Mr. Snarky

September 4th, 2011
11:03 pm

Sure we can beat the Phillies…anything can happen in a short series. Nobody gave the Giants a chance last year and look what happened. I’m not saying the odds are in our favor, but we just need a Cody Ross to step up.
Given that we struggled against the Dodgers, we better look out for the Brewers first though.

extremus

September 4th, 2011
11:56 pm

If the Braves and Phillies do end up meeting come October I think it will be a series long remembered for its intensity, and honestly it could go either way (but that’s a good thing if you’re considered an underdog like the Braves are right now). Chipper is correct in that only the Braves have played the phillies to at least a stalemate so far this season, and that has served to give them needed confidence.

My only words of caution are that such a meeting would not be happening until the NLCS regardless, meaning it is absolutely vital for the Braves not to look past whatever opponent they’d be facing that round. Whether it’s the Brewers, Diamondbacks, or Giants, any one of those teams could pose serious challenges to Atlanta’s chances of advancing (or as we all know in these crapshoot playoffs, even the Phillies).

Whether the wild card is in hand or not, the time for celebration isn’t here now, and it isn’t even should the Braves manage to reach the World Series. Only when the WS trophy is being hoisted into the air and being paraded down Peachtree should this team relax and proclaim “Mission Accomplished”. FAR too many very good teams going into October to look past anyone.

Trapper John

September 5th, 2011
12:13 am

I stand corrected dawg4U. Maybe it was the year before that a wild card team won it all. I’m not a researcher or a historian — just a fan like most of the folks on here! As for Pernell Roberts, how many people does anyone know who made it “big time” in Hollywood, California from Waycross, Georgia?? Not an easy thing to do! He’s prickly, a bit arrogant, but he outgrew the role of Adam Cartwright. I think his quote was “I’m 45 years old and still calling Lorne “Pa”? GO BRAVES!!

Whopper Dawg

September 5th, 2011
12:35 am

Chipper is great, but he needs to shut the heck up. That talk has no benefit.

rlinaug

September 5th, 2011
12:46 am

chipper has been backing it up since about 1995, all the way to the HOF. he’ll be ready… unless he gets hurt between now and then.

Sports desk channel 62

September 5th, 2011
1:02 am

Chipper Jones is your field general, they will take Philadelphia, moving on to college football, Georgia is finished for the season.

reckingball

September 5th, 2011
2:59 am

The Braves did a 4 game sweep on the Brewers the last time they met.
Outscored the Brewers 30 to 11.

Columbus

September 5th, 2011
3:47 am

Mitchell, you must htink baseball is like other sports, its not. Bulletin board material! LOL!

Yeah the Braves lost in the first round last year Mitchell you moron, to the World Champions, in ALL 1-run games! The Braves were over-matched but STILL gave them a HARDER time than the PHILLIES did! Braves are MUCH better this year but YOU dont see the Braves getting out of the 1st round? Wow I guess the seasons over. What was I thinking with the Braves having the BEST bullpen in the majors, the best catcher, a HOF 3rd baseman, 2 rookies of the year, a 2nd baseman with 32 homers, MLB stolen base leader and if the starters get healthy one of the top rotations in ALL of baseball! Wow, what was I thinking? I guess if we were in any OTHER division we would be in first place too, but man I had it ALL WRONG! The Braves dont have a chance. Thank you Mitchell for sharing you wisdom so I will not waste my time watching another second of a team that has NO CHANCE. Man thank you Mitchell. You should be on ESPN picking winners and losers. Man the Braves have no chance against the Dbacks or Giants or Reds or Cardinals or anybody man.

The Braves played their butts off against SF and if not for a couple bad calls, might have won another game or two. Braves were ALL heart with a weak hitting lineup and inferior pitching. Too bad with a MUCH IMPROVED LINEUP, We dont have a chance!

LOL thank you MITCHELL! LOL

Stinger2

September 5th, 2011
5:18 am

Chipper has become the pulse and voice of the clubhouse.
Maybe he was appointed or less likely elected. Some fans will say its entitlement because he has had a long and great career as a Brave.
Whatever the reasons he is now the go to guy for the media, my opinion is he needs to tone down his remarks.
His cockiness could backfire by giving the team the idea that they are better than they really are.

Stinger2

September 5th, 2011
5:19 am

Enter your comments here

Stinger2

September 5th, 2011
5:24 am

My first post was lost. I will make this repeat shorter.
Some of you may not agree, but I believe Chipper needs to tone down his cocky clubhouse remarks. I realize his tenure gives him a sense of entitlement to say what he wants to say. However, he now has a lot and by his comments, has given his teammates too much unnecessary pressure.

Stinger2

September 5th, 2011
5:25 am

Two posts have be ignored. Thats enough for me.

rudy

September 5th, 2011
5:38 am

if philly played washington and florida the rest of the way, atlanta has a chance at the division but making the postseason is the goal….GO BRAVES!!!!!!!

Rowsdower

September 5th, 2011
5:46 am

Chipper isn’t overlooking the Brewers. He is saying that the Brewers don’t have what it takes to beat the Phillies. We do. Simple as that. Anyone that follows baseball knows that. If the Braves somehow make it to the playoffs healthy, we can beat anyone. If we don’t, I still like our chances.

There is no bulletin board material. If the Brewers need motivation against the Braves God help them. Their motivation should come from inside or they’re fuq’d.