Braves, Derek Lowe blow up again (but somehow still live)

Derek Lowe might've done better if he closed his eyes while he was pitching. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Derek Lowe might've done better if he closed his eyes while he pitched Tuesday. Or maybe he did. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

(UPDATED: 11:45 p.m.)

So there’s this scene in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” when all of those who have been condemned to death and are hanging from crosses suddenly break into the cheer tune, “Always look on the bright side of life …”

And that pretty much sums up the Braves right now. They are a team of “Brians.” Every ounce of their corpses screams – a blood-curdling scream – that they are condemned for a season without a playoff game, or at the very least without another win.

And yet, they live. They sing!

For a short while, Braves fans actually cheered Tuesday night when their team trailed the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 in the seventh inning. Why? Because team officials – desperate for something to spark a cheer, or at least prevent throwing objects – showed highlights on the video board of Houston taking a 5-0 lead over St. Louis.

This is what Braves fans have to live for these days: Astros highlights.

Hoping to somehow, some way drag their seemingly dead behinds into the playoffs as a wild card, the Braves instead were dismembered by the Phillies 7-1. That makes four straight losses and eight in the last 11 and … well, we’ll stop there. And yes, league rules mandate they must play their 162nd game.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s current favorite team also failed: The Astros botched that 5-0 lead and lost 13-6. So the Braves have dropped into a tie with the Cardinals.

The Braves could be toast soon. Derek Lowe already has pulled the chute. He allowed five runs in four-plus innings. It would’ve been more, but the Phillies couldn’t stop laughing.

Lowe didn’t quite provide $15 million worth of clutch. But given that he is now 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA, maybe there’s a chance the Braves at least qualify for federal disaster relief. He has lost his last five starts, most by several furlongs.

I can’t recall if the Turner Field crowd ever chanted, “Let’s go, Braves!” on Tuesday. But they chanted, “Let’s go, Houston.”

A 105-loss Astros team has a stronger pulse than the home team. The Braves’ game was so over so early that you half-wondered why the marketing department didn’t just mandate that the team leave the field. The could’ve shown the St. Louis-Houston game on the screen. It would’ve kept more fans in the stadium. They would’ve sold more hot dogs.

It’s one thing for a baseball team to fade in the pennant stretch. It’s another to spontaneously combust.

The Braves are 10-19 in their past 29. Yet somehow, they started the night with a magic number of two to clinch the National League wild card. They realized a win would at least clinch a tie with the Cardinals for the playoff berth, thereby forcing a one-game playoff (albeit in St. Louis on Thursday).

But Lowe gave them no chance. And frankly, their bats would’ve given Cy Young no chance. Those are the three absolutes about the Braves these days. They can’t hit. They can’t pitch (save Tim Hudson). The other team is better.

Asked before the game what his thoughts were of Lowe, manager Fredi Gonzalez said, ““My thoughts are he’s going to give us a hell of a pitching performance.”

Did he mean Vaudeville?

There was a rainbow over Turner Field two hours before the game. But any belief that it represented some wonderful fantasy evening ended quickly. The game’s second batter, Chase Utley, cracked a Lowe pitch somewhere over that rainbow. It was 1-0. And counting.

Lowe was booed in the first inning. And in the top of the third when he gave up two more runs. And in the bottom of the third when he came to the plate. And in the fourth when he allowed another run. And in the fifth when he allowed a leadoff single to Jimmy Rollins.

Finally, Gonzalez went out to get him. A mob with pitch forks and torches already had started to form on the field level.

Gonzalez gambled that the struggling Lowe could give him more than rookie Julio Teheran. Consider the gamble an epic fail. Lowe was 0-4 with an 8.24 ERA in his past four losses. Guess what? That wasn’t an aberration.

We can debate just how much should be expected of a 38-year-old starting pitcher who has thrown over 2,500 innings in his career. But when a team is dying on the postseason vine, nobody wants to hear excuses. The Braves needed a strong performance. Lowe face-planted. They all face-planted. But for what it’s worth, postseason tickets are on sale.

By Jeff Schultz

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

518 comments Add your comment

Herschel Talker

September 27th, 2011
10:09 pm

Schultzie:

Time to drop this bum! And while we’re at it, let’s clean house!!! Fire Fredi!!! Fire Parrish!!! Fire Roger!!! Fire all of these losers!!!

HT

RJ

September 27th, 2011
10:14 pm

Anyone could have predicted this, Lowe has been terrible this year. I would have rather seen a rookie run out there tonight. Lowe would be a very good BP pitcher.

Bisher the bum

September 27th, 2011
10:15 pm

Ughhhh! This team stinks.

NO MORE PARRISH

September 27th, 2011
10:16 pm

MAKE A STATEMENT WREN AND FIRE PARRISH TONIGHT!!!!

pete

September 27th, 2011
10:18 pm

Please, Please, Please make Freddie answer the question as to why Lowe started.

Please

NO MORE PARRISH

September 27th, 2011
10:18 pm

Braves offense is so bad they couldn’t even hit Lowe.

Dr. Phil

September 27th, 2011
10:18 pm

In 50 years of watching baseball, I have never seen anything like what has happened to the Braves. There are some talented hitters on the team, and they are all playing like zombies. Is this a voodoo curse?

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:20 pm

Fire Chipper!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hire Justice!!!!!!!!

Yo Dog

September 27th, 2011
10:20 pm

The economy has more spark than the Braves offense. This team’s been cursed since John Schuerholtz told fans they should be happy with division titles.

Ross

September 27th, 2011
10:20 pm

No real sports fan minds losing – it’s part of life. But being an embarrassment is unacceptable. And this sort of thing lasts. Gene Mauch never recovered from the Philly flop in 1964 – even his division winningAngels epically folded to the Red Sox almost 20 years later. He was the guy you were glad was not managing your team.

Well, that’s the future Fredi. He’s just no good. This is a good baseball team but a team cannot play in baseball without some leadership. It may be quiet like Sparky or intense like LaRussa or crafty like Earl Weaver or even just dog stubborn like Cox. Fredi has nothing at all to recommend him as a manager. He’s completely lost. He manages on almost girly emotions and “the book”, a bad combination..

The Phillies needed 12 years to overcome their 64 swoon. Prepare for some long seasons, Braves fans.

IdahoBravesFan

September 27th, 2011
10:21 pm

Can you believe that Fredi thought Lowe could win? That is how out of touch this guy is. Absolute fantasy land!!!

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:21 pm

Hey Freddie Mack how much they pay ya to throw in the towel?

Dereck BLowe

September 27th, 2011
10:21 pm

So i told my wife yesterday, “the braves are sorta like a car wreck, you dont want to watch the carnage, but you cant seem to help yourself.” This is the only reason i can think of to answer the question “why invest valuable time in a team that doesnt deserve to be in the playoffs, and will only embarrass if they do make it”. If they do make the playoffs, its certainly not on their own merits, that’s for sure. But its a car wreck, and we all know….we all look.

Carlton

September 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

Stick a fork in ‘em..even IF they make the playoffs, they’re not going to make any noise. Sorry, non-story Schultz

Michael Bourn

September 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

Why wait for Thursday… I’m already on vacation b*t*he$!!!!!

Eric C.

September 27th, 2011
10:22 pm

Derek Lowe has given Braves fans many highlights and he pitched a heck of a September and LDS last season, and we greatly appreciate him for that, but there have been too many “Lowe”lights this season (had to say that). So if by miracle the Braves sneak into the playoffs, then hopefully this answers the “does Derek Lowe start in the playoffs” question. I feel bad for him, and I wish him the best whereever he is next season.

Ross

September 27th, 2011
10:23 pm

The Braves’ season is in the hands of Houston pitcher Enerio Del Rosario. Isn’t that a character from SNL?

Go Vols

September 27th, 2011
10:23 pm

Awful. No other word to describe it. Worst part is that the losing now seems inevitable. First Braves team to collapse since they’ve been in Atlanta.

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:23 pm

This Bum should be coaching little league baseball?

Ladies and Gents I present you Cox Jr!

Little Jimmy

September 27th, 2011
10:23 pm

Come on Hudson…. 9 innings of shutout ball and a solo HR (by yourself of course!) and we’ll win it!!

Choke

September 27th, 2011
10:25 pm

Scherholz: Please do the right thing and withdraw the Braves from playoff consideration. Post season is a showcase for competitors. Enough said.

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

Hey Freddie, I thought this only happened in the NBA?
Too easy man…..

Big Wally

September 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

^)*^)*&_()&% Now tied.

Braves fan

September 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

Carlton

September 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

Derek Lowe does a great Mike Hampton impression, minus the injuries!!

TN Jeff

September 27th, 2011
10:26 pm

Regarding the Post Season tickets on sale – I think once the Braves are eliminated from postseason tomorrow, the players should be required to return to the stadium on the dates that the home games were to be played and entertain the fools that bought tickets (though even those fools should be given a refund). How would they entertain? Let Lowe & Linebrink (and bring back Proctor for good measure) pitch to the hitless mental midget Superstars like McCann & Chipper and see just who is more inept.

Ross

September 27th, 2011
10:27 pm

Eric C, that’s a good point. I don’t think the entire franchise going back to 1876 has ever collapsed this way.

PhilliesFan

September 27th, 2011
10:27 pm

What can D Lowe say? He had a great career. He is just done. The contract was too much money and too long

Braves fan

September 27th, 2011
10:28 pm

boston choking again now its 8-6 boston was 8-4

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

Derek & Chipper can go fishing this weekend permanently…

Carlton

September 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

BTW-I love everyone on here who are now spitting on Lowe. Halfway through the season it was “Well, he did great last year’s postseason”. So what?? This guy hasn’t been sh** since he came to the Braves. Woo-hoo, he won maybe two gmes last year in the post-season? Can’t wait to get this $15 million dollar cancer off the payroll

Girl Up, Man

September 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

Can Barry Larkin come play SS ?

Go Vols

September 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

Hate to pick nits, but Lowe isn’t solely responsible here. You can’t score 2 runs or less in 5 of the last 6 games and put the blame on the pitching staff. Agree, Lowe didn’t pitch well tonight, but we scored 1 run!

Braves fan

September 27th, 2011
10:29 pm

balt. 1 on o out bottom 9th

ab initio

September 27th, 2011
10:30 pm

Fire Fredi, Larry, and the rest of the bums, Wren.

Then fire yourself. And take Scheurholz with you.

Braves fan

September 27th, 2011
10:30 pm

wow balt.11 pitch vs papplebon

Girl Up, Man

September 27th, 2011
10:30 pm

Exactly. If Lowe woulda gave up only 2 runs they still lose 2-1. Gotta blame the offense mainly.

PhilliesFan

September 27th, 2011
10:31 pm

Go Vols… Lowe might not be the only one to blame but he has been awful 0-4 in September and gave you no shot at all tonight

Buster

September 27th, 2011
10:31 pm

Braves vs Red Sox in the World Series. Braves win in 6.

Braves fan

September 27th, 2011
10:31 pm

IdahoBravesFan

September 27th, 2011
10:32 pm

I know what the Braves can do for post season. They can have an inter-squad game. The problem is that they couldn’t be themselves.

BaseballBuff

September 27th, 2011
10:32 pm

GoVols: “First Braves team to collapse since they’ve been in Atlanta.”

What planet have you been living on? Count on a Tennessee fan to make a statement like that.

PhilliesFan

September 27th, 2011
10:32 pm

Buster… They should play a series but wiffle ball or dodge ball

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:32 pm

Hey freeie you knew this guy had nothing left in the tank… Too easy man…..

Little league for you….

ATL Hoe

September 27th, 2011
10:32 pm

Another typical collapse from an ATL sports franchise… this city is cursed how does anyone not believe it now?

kl

September 27th, 2011
10:33 pm

Cards and Astros tied 6-6 in 7th 2 on, 2 outs Cards batting…

dale morphy

September 27th, 2011
10:33 pm

Some people have said it better, but the decision to start Lowe by Gonzalez was absolutely unconscionable. He has been one of the worst pitchers in the NL since the all-star break. The minute he took the ball the rest of the Braves knew they couldn’t win. I have watched every game this season EXCEPT tonight. When I saw Gonzalez truly intended to start Lowe, I found something else to do. I have lost all respect for Gonzalez’s judgment. In my industry, if the team collapses heads roll, starting at the top! You can’t blame Fredi for Jurrgens and Hanson getting injured (except Hanson’s awful, arm strength-only mechanics no one in the organization can seem to correct), but the great September Swoon of 2011 is and should be laid squarely at the manager’s feet.

No Way

September 27th, 2011
10:33 pm

Go Vols..My team! Lets hope they show better than the sorry Braves.
PhilliesFan…What can DLowe say? He should have said, before the game, ” I shouldn’t be on the mound. My pitching stinks, I need a drink.”
What does Fredi say? I hope its BYE. I would help him pack.

kl

September 27th, 2011
10:33 pm

8-6 Cards…

We can beat those Cheese Steaks..

September 27th, 2011
10:34 pm

Do most of the Braves live in San-Francisco?

I’m just askin?