The Braves continued their excellent month of September by picking up a 5-2 win over the Phillies to complete the sweep over their NL East rivals. The game was tied at one until the eighth inning, which is when Matt Kemp and the Braves broke through to score four runs and pull away. The Braves have won 10 out of their last 11 games now, and are absolutely ending the season on a high note.
Meanwhile in the AL Wild Card race, the Detroit Tigers are still alive. They’ve got a packed schedule ahead, and that includes a trip to Atlanta to help the Braves close Turner Field. The Tigers will need to win every game that they can this weekend, but with the way the Braves have been playing this month, none of these games are even close to being a ‘gimme’ for the Tigers and Lynn Henning of The Detroit News is aware of this.
They’re playing the Braves this weekend. You remember them. Last-place team in the National League East. Pretty much everyone’s whipping boy. And, yahoo, Tigers fans might have whooped, Detroit gets to play a gang of doormats precisely at the point Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus’ guys dream of a dandy weekend sweep in their quest to win a wild-card playoff spot next week.
The rub is obvious to anyone who has studied the Braves since midseason. They’re now pretty good. In fact, they’re hot. Which isn’t the brand of team Ausmus’ crew will appreciate, especially when to beat Atlanta these days it’s absolutely essential you have starting pitching that can lasso and hog-tie hitters who have been as rambunctious as the Braves offer.
The season will be over after Sunday, and that will probably mark the beginning of intense speculation as to who will be the next manager of the Atlanta Braves. Brian Snitker has done a fine job as the interim manager, and per a report from David O’Brien of the AJC, Snitker has one player firmly in his camp: Ender Inciarte.
“I’ve never been so comfortable playing for anybody in my career, and I’m really pushing for him to stay here; everybody here in the clubhouse really likes him,” said Inciarte, who has hit .351 with 21 extra-base hits and a .406 OBP in 68 games since the break, including .355 with a .905 OPS in his past 40 games.
“We all respect him, so you really want a guy like that on your team. You really want to play for him. I think everybody here has been doing that.”
The crew over at MLB Daily Dish recently gave their take on the Braves season, and they’ve seen what everybody else is seeing — the Braves may have an awful record, but the 2016 season was productive for Atlanta in every other way. This team is trending forward as we head into 2017.
The St. Louis Cardinals are still very much alive in the National League Wild Card race after picking up a walk-off 4-3 win over the Reds last night. However, the run that they scored to win the game should probably still be on third base right now, because the ball that Yadier Molina hit bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Somehow the umpires missed this, and the Reds wanted to challenge it, but the umps left the field before the Reds could challenge it and that was that. You’re too slow, Reds!
The Cardinals are now just one game behind the Giants for the second and final NL Wild Card spot. As such, everybody’s preparing for the possibility that this race could possibly end in a three-way tie. What will baseball do if this happens? Our friends over at Amazin’ Avenue tried to figure it out. I’ve posted part of it as a quote below, but it’s definitely worth reading the entire thing so that you can be up to speed on this.
Say a tiebreaker is needed where all three teams finish the regular season with identical records, something that has never happened in MLB history. In order to determine how three teams will divide two playoff spots, combined head-to-head record among the teams are used first. The Mets and Cardinals both went 7-6 against the other two teams, while the Giants went 6-8. Therefore, the Mets and Cardinals will get two chances to make the playoffs and the Giants just one chance.
This is how it would work: The Mets and Cardinals would meet the Monday after the regular season (with the host being determined by better division record, more on this in a minute) for the top Wild Card spot. The loser would play the Giants in San Francisco on Tuesday for the second spot. The winners of the two games will face off in the Wild Card game on Wednesday.