LIVE: Braves can clinch tonight (and it starts with Lowe)

The Braves will do more scoreboard watching, and hope to have another banner to raise.

The Braves will do more scoreboard watching tonight, and hope to have another banner to raise.

Amid all of the angst of the Braves’ collapse (10-18), the injured starters (Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson), the slumping hitters (Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, Brian McCann) and the overused bullpen, guess what? The Braves can actually clinch the wild card tonight.

OK, for that to happen, the Braves need to hit a long-odds parlay: 1) The maligned starter, Derek Lowe, needs a strong outing to defeat the Phillies at Turner Field; 2) The St. Louis Cardinals need to lose for a second straight game in Houston. Those two developments would give the Braves the National League wild card spot for the second straight year, and render Wednesday’s regular-season finale against Philadelphia meaningless.

Few expected the Cards to lose to the Astros Monday night. It happened (5-4 in 10 innings). But the Braves’ postseason chances mostly hinge on Lowe. If he and the Braves win tonight, at worst the magic number is down to one, with Tim Hudson on the mound Wednesday against Joe Blanton (advantage: Braves).

What the Braves need is the Lowe of Sept. 2010, not 2011. Last season, he went 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA (29 strikeouts, three walks) in his final five regular season starts. But this has been the worst season of his career. He’s 9-16 with a 4.92 ERA. He’s 0-4 in his last four starts with an 8.24 ERA (though his last start at Florida was solid).

The other obvious issue for the Braves is a lack of offense. They lost 4-2 on Monday, have scored two or fewer runs in four of their last five games and three or fewer in six of their last 10. They’re also hitting only .239 in the month of September and  .181 (32-for-177) with with runners in scoring position this month.

They’ll need to break out of that against the Phillies’ Roy Oswalt, who has been strong in two starts against the Braves this season (1-0, 2.08 in two starts) but in his career is only 1-3 with a 5.15 ERA.

As you prepare to scoreboard watch, your second favorite team, the Astros, will start Henry Sosa (3-5, 4.68) against the Cardinals’ Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.48).

And with that, I turn it over to you. We wait to see what Lowe gives us.

Can this be an omen? It's a rainbow over Turner Field.

Can this be an omen? There was a rainbow over Turner Field two hours before the Braves' game.

By Jeff Schultz

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

1,258 comments Add your comment

tw

September 27th, 2011
5:10 pm

Joey

September 27th, 2011
5:10 pm

Dang is Lotto $37M?

Gotta go!

tw

September 27th, 2011
5:12 pm

The Braves will get on a hot streak starting tonight all the way to the series!

blazerdawg

September 27th, 2011
5:12 pm

Still love that phrase, “Braves can clinch with a win tonight.”. Never gets old. Win tonight, get some rest, take 3 of the next 5, on to Philly.

gem

September 27th, 2011
5:13 pm

If you think Lowe pitched well last time out. You have Lowe standards. He hasn’t shut anybody down in soooooo long. We need our 15M pitcher to throw a shutout once in a while.

Joey

September 27th, 2011
5:14 pm

Derek Lowe was known, and rightly so, as a big game pitcher when at Boston.

Doubters will doubt, but if, if he could pitch a gem tonight, it could start a fire with the team.

Well, a candle, at least .

Go Braves!

Ernest T. Bass

September 27th, 2011
5:22 pm

You gotta be kiddin

Lynyrd Skynyrd

September 27th, 2011
5:22 pm

Win us a game, Derek Lowe, Derek Lowe.
Well I got your drinkin’ money tune up your dobro
People said he was useless them people all were fools
’cause Derek Lowe was the finest pitcher to ever beat the Phils’!

Ernest T. Bass

September 27th, 2011
5:25 pm

Like I said

Pull the other one.

NO MORE PARRISH

September 27th, 2011
5:25 pm

Only good thing from all this losing is to know Parrish will not be back next year.

david

September 27th, 2011
5:26 pm

matbe a match

We Will Win It All

September 27th, 2011
5:27 pm

Wow…check out that Philly lineup…those guys aren’t messing around…at least we won’t have to hear all the Philly fans whine about a weak lineup when we beat them tonight.

Stinger2

September 27th, 2011
5:37 pm

We really only have hope left on our side. We certainly do not have good hitting or pitching. It was lost about four weeks ago.

Jeff Schultz

September 27th, 2011
5:39 pm

Gem: It wasn’t a dominating performance last time, but relatively speaking, 3 earned runs in 6.1 innings is pretty good. A “quality start,” as they say.

bulldogbubba

September 27th, 2011
5:40 pm

Will Sunny Clusters and Stinky Wintes be there?

Brave4life-1995 all over again???

September 27th, 2011
5:40 pm

Schultz

You think we will win?

Bill Stanfill

September 27th, 2011
5:42 pm

Will the Houston Astros MAKE the Braves accept the Wild Card?? Braves don’t seem to want any cards out of the deck, especially the wild card–and seem perfectly content to let the Cards have all the cards including the wild card!!!

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 27th, 2011
5:50 pm

Cheffy and fam grace the Ted in 24 hours.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 27th, 2011
5:55 pm

Would be nice to see BMac and Marteen bring the “O” .

Bud Wiser

September 27th, 2011
5:55 pm

If Lowe is pitching, I’ll be watching “Dancing With The Stars” early tonight.

Freddi G must be insane to give Lowe the ball.

229 Bravesfan

September 27th, 2011
5:57 pm

It’s time to do this, clinch it and get some rest the next few days. Let’s Go Braves!!!

lanier

September 27th, 2011
6:01 pm

with a chance to clinch i cannot believe they are starting Lowe. this guy is finished, kaput, gone

makes me wonder if baseball is truely fixed

Rabid dawg

September 27th, 2011
6:02 pm

I hope Martinez will be ready to pitch tonight. With Lowe…long relief may very well be needed. I hope that Gonzo does not leave Lowe in for too long if he’s struggling early.

Smiling Jack

September 27th, 2011
6:05 pm

Gotta win tonight, Braves! You have before, just do it again! Go Braves…most of the fans are pulling for you. I know we won’t more disappointed than you will be…. So go beat the Phils and make us all happier!

wins-by-a-link

September 27th, 2011
6:05 pm

Baseball is a game of odds, The odds presently favor the Braves, Two games left to play and Braves have one game lead, Win both games they are in, Win one of the two games and Cards lose one, The Braves are in, Lose both games and Cards win both games the Braves are out, Win one game lose the other and Cards win both games its a tie and one game play off. I think the Braves can split but can Houston win another one from Cards? (odds say no) The odds are in favor of one game play off. The way the Braves have played the odds in play off would probably be in favor of the Cards.

Old Dawg Fan

September 27th, 2011
6:07 pm

I think “Linus” from Charlie Brown said it best when he said “I’m doomed”!!!! The “I’m” being “the Braves”. It is the “Great Pumplin Charlie Brown” and the Braves are a bunch of “pumpkins”!!!
Lowe pitching is like Chipper Jones trying to run fast. Why is Lowe pitching and why is Chipper even playing tonight. He has had a very good year but he can’t run/move. In fact the ball hit to him last night by Vizciano (sic) would have been stopped by anyone who is “not injured”-yes it was hit hard but he “can’t move”!!!!!! This of course reuslted in a double and another RBI by Ibanez. Not that it really matters it just aggravates me to watch such poor decisions by FG.
Getting back to Lowe. They would be better off grabbing the first person who walks thru the gate to pitch. At least that would be fun to watch and that person might actually have a chance to win the game.
In the almost immortal words of “Skip Carey” (whom I did not care for)
Braves Lose!!! Braves Lose!! Braves Lose!!

shawn

September 27th, 2011
6:08 pm

Lowe will get lower and is going to pitch like he has in his last starts. It makes me laugh to think that Lowe will save us..Really? I hope he will and Braves win but I doubt it..

Mike

September 27th, 2011
6:10 pm

Why in the world is Lowe starting? That is all I have to say. Lowe should have be written out of the rotation on the last stop through. They should be at a 4 man rotation.

Dr. Phil

September 27th, 2011
6:10 pm

Could the Braves’ hitting coach be like the hypnotist in “The Natural?”

Boobys' Booger

September 27th, 2011
6:12 pm

the braves have a hitting coach?

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 27th, 2011
6:13 pm

Jeff, did the media buffet lend any clues? I mean, anything starting to go out of date, etc…

The Rainbow

September 27th, 2011
6:14 pm

Means God will not destroy the Braves by flood :)

cb795

September 27th, 2011
6:15 pm

Ok for the fans that believe BLowe will pitch a gem tonight, I will be selling some beach front property in Arizona later.

Ron Roberts

September 27th, 2011
6:18 pm

Your photos make me ask, again: what sort of “look” were the architects of this stadium going for? Oriole Park, (the renovated) US Cellular Field, Comerica Park, PNC Park, New Busch Stadium, Minute Maid Park, AT&T Park – I get it; retro, lots of brick and exposed steel/iron. Progressive Field (Indians), Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, new Marlins Park, Chase Field, Petco Park, too, I understand – unique but modern. Turner Field – sorry, I don’t get it. It’s an over-sized (by 10,000 seats I’d say) hodge-podge of nothing distinct, other than it’s centerfield scoreboard on ‘roids (ironic, given that Andruw Jones patrolled CF for so many years in the stadium’s earliest seasons).

People can bellyache about Braves fans’ apathy at the gate, but the ballpark doesn’t help; going isn’t the ‘experience” it is a Fenway or Wrigley (because it’s not old and an homage to the past), nor is it distinct (like PNC and AT&T Parks are with their bridges and bays “keep it simple” outfield advertising). Supply & demand dictates that the stadium’s too big, outside of the occasional sellout weekend series (and even then, you point to the Mets, Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox fan-bases nudging us over the top).

The Braves got a free ballpark back in 1997; when will they (or the stadium board) start realizing their revenue problem has a lot to do with a flawed, sterile ballpark that doesn’t evoke any passion FROM fans of the team that occupies it?

Joseph

September 27th, 2011
6:19 pm

At least i see some positive comments today! Go Braves lets finish this and see if we can find some Lemke magic in the playoffs. Negative fans go somewhere else! Thank YOU!

Boyz From North Ave

September 27th, 2011
6:20 pm

Derek Lowe and winning shouldnt be mentioned in the same sentence. 15 million down the drain next year too on this dud. Only time more money wqs wasted was on the Obama stimulus package…..wait, I forgot. J Johnson plays basketball in this city.

Batterup

September 27th, 2011
6:21 pm

I’m not joking when I say this, but as another blogger has just asked, “Do the Braves have a hitting coach”?
Lowe tonight: Put that in the “L” column; the Cards win tonight and it’s tied.
Tomorrow night, the final night: Poor Braves lose ’cause the Cardinals just want it a bit more and they have guys that can hit in the clutch.

The ignominious record will have been rightly established and will live with this band of players throughout the rest of their lives. Of course, they COULD win, but, are you ready to place bets on that?

Patrick

September 27th, 2011
6:23 pm

Yeah Jeff, there was a great, simple question asked to you:

Do YOU think the Braves will win tonight?

Bob

September 27th, 2011
6:25 pm

I hope Lowe pitches like he’s paid tonight, and I hope the Braves win; however, I don’t think so. Until we purge the culture of Cox and company (and that means Wren, too), we’ll always be pretenders.

Braves Fan in PA

September 27th, 2011
6:28 pm

Win or lose, post season or not, the Braves and their fans still have more class than the Phillies. I sure hope we pull it out, because Phillies fans are not just poor losers, they’re the worst, most boorish winners. My daughter stopped taking my grandsons to Citizens Bank Park two years ago because she tired of explaining to the guys about “people making bad choices.” Go Braves!

Mike Bibby

September 27th, 2011
6:28 pm

Indians always go to walmart.

Boobys' Booger

September 27th, 2011
6:29 pm

Ron Roberts- exactly.

Bob – Exactly

dawg4u

September 27th, 2011
6:30 pm

Bravos, let’s just say we’re mad as hell and ain’t gonna take the losing anymore – at least for the next two nights!

Bill Stanfill

September 27th, 2011
6:32 pm

Let’s clinch tonight (and be done with potentially the greatest collapse in Atlanta pro sports history).

Players can rest on Wednesday. We’ll even let Linebrink start a game.

sally

September 27th, 2011
6:33 pm

I doubt that DLowe will be able to pull this off tonight. So many times in the past when we have pulled for him to be let down. But what about the hitting!!! Just bordering on terrible. Hey, you high priced ball players, if you can’t hit the ball, please go away and hide your faces. Shame on you. Have you ever let us down. My, My.

Boobys' Booger

September 27th, 2011
6:34 pm

I see Bill Stanfill has had a fill of Kool-Aide tonite

Sonny Clusters

September 27th, 2011
6:36 pm

Bottle of Beer, Pack of Mints, What this team Needs, Is Stinky Wintes!

Bob

September 27th, 2011
6:41 pm

@Bill Stanfill…if you’re the real one, thanks for being a great Dawg. You were one of our best; however, are you sure you want Lamebrain pitching?

Boobys' Booger

September 27th, 2011
6:42 pm

well we have lamebrain managing why not pitching too

TampaGator

September 27th, 2011
6:43 pm

Big game, Derek Lowe. He shuts ‘em down every time. Like Dawg fans, I can dream….and it isn’t even summer yet.