Update: It was a big day for the Braves, who didn’t even play

Glad tidings from a Philly fanatic. (AP photo)

Glad tidings from a Philly fanatic. (AP photo)

Update: The Mets scored six runs in the ninth inning to beat St. Louis 8-6 after the Cardinals’ Rafael Furcal, of whom you’ve heard, couldn’t field a double-play grounder. The Braves lead the Cards by two games with six to play. Big break.

Today is an important day for the Braves, and they don’t even play. (The way they’re going, that’s a good thing.) The Cardinals are scheduled to complete their three-game series against the Mets this afternoon, and what happens in St. Louis will have a direct effect on the Braves’ psyche this next week.

Today’s the day when that half-game in the standings goes away. If the Cardinals lose, they’ll be two back with six to go. That’s still too close for comfort, but it beats the heck out of the alternative, which would be …

One game back, six to go.

The Braves appeared to have steadied last week. They held that 4 1/2-game lead for four days, saw it reduced to 3 1/2 on Friday, pushed it back to 4 1/2 on Saturday. They were positioned to keep it there Sunday afternoon, but Jonny Venters blew a lead and then Craig Kimbrel blew one the next night and suddenly they were only 2 1/2 games in front. After amassing two hits against Javier Vazquez (former Brave) last night while the Cardinals surged past the Mets yet again, the lead’s at 1 1/2.

And nothing’s steady now. The Braves led St. Louis by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 25, by 8 1/2 the day after Labor Day, which was barely two weeks ago. But the Braves have stopped hitting (again) and their rotation has been reduced to Tim Hudson and assorted rookies and the bullpen has started to wobble and …

According to Baseball Prospectus’ playoffs odds, the Braves’ chances of reaching the postseason stand at 70.3 percent. A week ago they were at 95 percent. This time next week they could be at 0 percent.

I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t think they were in real trouble until Monday night. But now I do. They’ve lost consecutive series to teams with losing records. They’ve won one of the past five series. They’ve lost 13 of 20 games. If they’re put in position where one more bad night could mean they’re no longer leading the wild-card race, I’m not sure how they’ll react.

The difference between a one-game and a two-game lead isn’t that much on paper, but with six games remaining a two-game lead could be viewed as almost healthy. A one-game lead could not. For a team that has had little go right this past fortnight, seeing the Cardinals lose today would be a major boost. But those Redbirds don’t seem to be losing much, do they?

The good news: Lefthander Chris Capuano is starting for the Mets, and he can be effective. The bad: He has won only twice in his past nine starts, and both victories, wouldn’t you know, were against the local nine. So the Braves have that going for them, which is … not really nice.

By Mark Bradley

401 comments Add your comment

J.J.M.

September 22nd, 2011
11:51 am

*yawns* if they make the playoffs will it even matter(swept in the first round)

Najeh Davenpoop

September 22nd, 2011
11:51 am

Can you please just predict that the Braves will miss the playoffs already, so that the Mark Bradley Prediction Effect will propel them into the postseason?

mike

September 22nd, 2011
11:52 am

Mark- you seen the deadspin story about the 90s braves today? Is this worth a column?
http://deadspin.com/5842873/if-the-90s-braves-were-doctoring-the-ball-more-power-to-them

markdawg33

September 22nd, 2011
11:53 am

Hand-Raped by Worthless TSA Airport Screeners

September 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

It breaks my heart to see how this 2011 Braves team has simply QUIT on the season.

If we can’t play any better than this, we don’t deserve to make it to the post-season.

Bringing a well-rested John Smoltz down out of the broadcast booth would have been a much, much, much better pre-September-1st rotation addition that Derek “Pour Me Another” Lowe.

PMC

September 22nd, 2011
11:54 am

I can’t help but think this has something to do with Joe Johnson’s contract.

truth

September 22nd, 2011
11:56 am

Mark Bradley

September 22nd, 2011
11:57 am

Their chances to win in postseason will be non-existent if they don’t qualify, J.J.M.

Mark Bradley

September 22nd, 2011
11:58 am

Oh, and kudos.

StottsEra

September 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

a whole article about the difference between 1 and 2!!

dean

September 22nd, 2011
12:02 pm

Braves get Strasburg in Washington tomorrow. Cards get…..the Cubs. At home.

Anybody have a bucket? I have some water to bail.

J.J.M.

September 22nd, 2011
12:02 pm

lol@blame obama

Michael

September 22nd, 2011
12:02 pm

They haven’t quit, but they never could hit much, and now the pitching has crumbled. Don’t think it matters whether they make it to the playoffs or not, they aren’t going far regardless. Time to look forward to how to fix them for 2012. Start with leaving D Lowe at the nearest bus station, then go from there.

Paul

September 22nd, 2011
12:02 pm

I remember last week or so when the stat was, if the Braves go .500, the Cards would have to go 16-4 or something. Looks like the Cards have held up their end of the bargain. Even the Giants have caught up, after designating a couple of good players. I guess you don’t win pennants in April after all??

Coach Scott

September 22nd, 2011
12:04 pm

It seems we lost momentum when the hurricane caused the cancellations in New York.

Najeh Davenpoop

September 22nd, 2011
12:05 pm

I saw Leo Mazzone doing the pregame show in the radio booth at the ballpark a couple of weeks ago. I was very disappointed to see that he wasn’t rocking in his chair. A non-rocking Leo is like a Bobby Cox who doesn’t get ejected, or a fast Brian McCann.

DCBravosFan

September 22nd, 2011
12:09 pm

Going to the game in DC tomorrow. Will be loud! GO BRAVOS!!!

Bob Pettit

September 22nd, 2011
12:11 pm

Everything on the line & they manage 2 hits against the Marlins? Shows you the grit of this bunch. It really doesn’t matter – even if they make it, does anyone really think that they can give Milwaukee the home field advantage & win a series?

Craig Skok

September 22nd, 2011
12:12 pm

Fire Herschel Talker!

Hollywould

September 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Just throw the braves a shoulder high pitch and they will swing every time.

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:14 pm

Pujols 5 year average against Capuano is .611…oh my!

Reality

September 22nd, 2011
12:14 pm

HEY GUYS I KNOW LETS FIRE FREDI GONZALEZ HES DOING SUCH A BAD JOB COME ON AMIRITE

Jason Heyward's Gynecologist

September 22nd, 2011
12:16 pm

Braves 2011 Starting Right Fielder = Jeff Francoeur 2.0 (Minus the Defensive Hustle)

Heath

September 22nd, 2011
12:18 pm

Have you forgotten, Mark? Lowe still has one more start, so it’s in all reality on a 1/2 game lead. Cardinals win tonight and the race is tied.

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:18 pm

the Phillies are gonna take 2 of 3 from the Braves and I think Strasburg might beat us but I think St Louis could collapse and let the Brave back into the PO.

DCBravosFan

September 22nd, 2011
12:19 pm

Fredi has done a credible job. Take a look at this lineup. They need a bat in RF, a bat at short, and a 60 games of a backup bat at 3B.

Under the financial restraints imposed on them by the absent owners, this is about all that you could expect.

Sonny Clusters

September 22nd, 2011
12:19 pm

The answer to this team’s woes may be Stinky Wintes. He could be persuaded to manage this team for the right amount of money. Not many people know that Stinky became one of Coach’s favorites with the time he spent on the bench for not bathing regularly. Over time he picked up a lot of baseball knowledge and he was learning state championships, not little division signs and then out in 3. If the Braves don’t get to the playoffs and to the championship series, we think Stinky Wintes should become the new manager.

Falcons4Eva

September 22nd, 2011
12:20 pm

Imagine all those suckers who bought into the hype about this team during the Spring.
Even more were the poor saps that bought Post Seasons Tickets for this year.

READ MY TEXT – There will be NO post season for the BRAVES this YEAR !

Double Zero Eight

September 22nd, 2011
12:20 pm

If they lose the next game….it’s over.
It will be too late to perform the Heimlich
manuever!

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:21 pm

The Cards just signed Berkman to a 1 yr deal at 12 mil

Falcons4Eva

September 22nd, 2011
12:21 pm

Imagine how Ticked off the Braves front office must be when they have to REFUND those post season tickets…

Chances are, they are going to try and get those who already bought post season tickets to put it towards credit for next season games….

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:23 pm

I predict the Cards lose 3 of their next 4.

Highlands

September 22nd, 2011
12:23 pm

LOLLYGAGGERS!

Carlton

September 22nd, 2011
12:23 pm

I’m surprised that Phillies fan in the picture didn’t bring his other sign that says “Stick a fork in a cheesesteak. I need one”

Falcons4Eva

September 22nd, 2011
12:24 pm

Freddi Gonzalez Last Famous Words after the season is over in one week: You gotta tip your cap to them. They played great!

Hand-Raped by Worthless TSA Airport Screeners

September 22nd, 2011
12:24 pm

I haven’t been this sad as a sports fan since earlier this summer when my beloved Atlanta Thrashers were MURDERED by those sons-of-$!#$+@#$ Atlanta Spirit Group members.

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

Are the Braves in DC now or Atl?

Falcons4Eva

September 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

You just got to “Tip Your Cap” to them…

Heath

September 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

Remember, Lowe still has another start, so in all reality the lead is already down to one game.

Sonny Clusters

September 22nd, 2011
12:26 pm

One time Stinky Wintes showed us all how smart a baseball man he is by catching a foul ball with his eyes closed . . . he knew exactly where that ball would be when it got to him and he caught it with his eyes closed! Compare this to a current Braves player who can’t catch a ball at third base with the lights on. Chipper could never catch a ball in the dark like Stinky Wintes. Having this baseball sixth-sense makes us think Stinky Wintes could help this team in many ways. One thing he would do for sure and that is he would stop all that hugging and fanny patting in the dugout. Nobody seems to want to talk about that going on but we was wondering if it’s healthy?

Hand-Raped by Worthless TSA Airport Screeners

September 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

BELIEVE IT:

The only way this second-half of the MLB season could get any worse for Atlanta fans would be if the Braves were purchased by ANYONE associated with Atlanta Spirit Group.

meh

September 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

hopefully the day off will do the Braves some good. the Braves should just chill and have a beer or two today to clear their heads. then lay a whomping on the Nats tomorrow.

Hand-Raped by Worthless TSA Airport Screeners

September 22nd, 2011
12:31 pm

Enter your comments here

Mike

September 22nd, 2011
12:33 pm

Unless the Phils lay down for them to keep from playing the Cards first round, the Braves are cooked. Especially if the trot Lowe out there. They need to go to a four man rotation of Hudson, Beachy, Minor, and Delgado if they want a chance at this thing, and McCann needs to start hitting again. Also, where is Constanza? Why do we have Heyward still playing? Its time to put the guys in that produce, and leave the media hype and big contracts on the bench. Even if that means putting Ross in over McCann. There is no more room to play around

Sonny Clusters

September 22nd, 2011
12:33 pm

Excessive hugging in the dugout is something we believe should be stopped. That, and fanny patting. This team has players swinging at the first pitch all the time like they want to get back to the dugout for a big hug. How many players run softly to first base for an out so they can make that turn into the dugout for a big hug? We never hugged much when we was playing ball but all our hugging was done with coeds. Hugging and fanny patting is a problem on this team and we think Mark should ask Fredi about it when he comes back to town.

DePort

September 22nd, 2011
12:35 pm

Last year, the Braves had a chip on their shoulder with all the fielder injuries and our good pitching held us together enough to make the playoffs. Now this year, the Braves pitching staff as fallen apart and the bats seem like they dont know how to hit anymore. For a while I thought this team was better than last years depleted team but now im not so sure…

Mike

September 22nd, 2011
12:36 pm

So what are the chances the Braves ownership bites the bullet and goes after Fielder this offseason? With Lowe and Jones’ contracts expiring soon, the long term money should be there. They desperately need a guy like him in at cleanup. With Jones, McCann, Uggla, and Freeman around him, there would be no need to wear the bullpen out by September. They must find someone who can anchor the middle of the order instead of asking guys that should be hitting 3, 5, or 6 to do so.

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:37 pm

has there ever been a playoff team w/3 rookie starters before?

Ted M

September 22nd, 2011
12:37 pm

DawgDad

September 22nd, 2011
12:37 pm

The Braves haven’t “quit”, they’ve been playing hard, they just aren’t performing well as a team. As posted on the other blog, without the Grade-A starting pitching they’ve been exposed as a sub-.500 team. The core veterans are not producing enough to carry the team, I mean Prado, Chipper, McCann, Uggla, and even AGon. They heat up for a week or two, but if you look at their season stats they’ve all under-performed (or, in Chipper’s case, haven’t performed often enough).