Phillies 5, Braves 4

In their penultimate game of the regular season, Atlanta simultaneously lost a tough game to the Phillies and their control over Home Field Advantage in the National League. That’s not insignificant. It’s true that HFA has not determined postseason success for the vast majority of teams in the wild card era, but it’s also true that this Braves teams plays significantly better at the Ted than they do anywhere else. More importantly, this season HFA really means “avoiding Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke” in a short series. Now, Atlanta needs both a win against Philadelphia and a St. Louis loss against a woeful Chicago team to avoid that fate.

The Braves trailed the entire game after Mike Minor surrendered 2 runs in the top of the 1st inning. Minor has been pedestrian in 1st innings this season: his ERA in the game’s first frame is an awful 5.64, easily his worst mark of any inning. And so last night was of a piece with his larger body of work. He struggled in the 1st, settled down in the 2nd, and finished with a respectable line for the night. Jordan Walden then served up 2 more runs, which is too bad because until recently he was the Braves 2nd-best reliever and a reliable 8th-inning man to boot. Now the team will probably be relying upon David Carpenter and Luis Avilan for non-Kimbrel late-inning high-leverage outs. Anthony Varvaro, finally, allowed the Phillies’ 5th run in the 8th.

As for offense… well, we all know this story. The Braves were mostly quiet with their bats, which has been their wont for the better part of the last 6 weeks. That said, as has also been an iteration of a recurring genre, they managed to leave a small village of runners on base. 12 hits and 5 walks often produces more than 4 runs, but not all hits are created equal. Aside from two doubles and a 9th-inning Justin Upton home run, Atlanta’s hits were all singles. It’s not unsurprising then that 75% of their runs came on the aforementioned homer. The Braves will need to rediscover their power once the postseason starts, for they have recently hit more like the Mariners, Astros, and Marlins than the pre-September Braves.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the 9th-inning shenanigans as well. Atlanta cut the lead to 1 after JUpton’s 2-out, 3-run home run, and then managed to get 2 more runners on base for Chris Johnson. The latter hit a sharp ground ball deep into the hole, but was thrown out after Jimmy Rollins made a fantastic play to his right. CJ did not appear to be running hard out of the box; he should have beaten the throw and the game should have continued for at least one more matter. But that’s not all. Johnson subsequently compounded his (and the team’s) frustration by throwing a tantrum in the dugout and hitting Terry Pendleton with his helmet. TP then grabbed and shook him angrily, which made for an odd dugout scene for a team with 95 wins and the division title already wrapped up. I doubt there’s much to see here. They’ll be fine, and Chris Johnson will probably be running like hell out of the box for the foreseeable future.

Julio Teheran gets the ball today in his final tuneup before the LDS. Atlanta hitters will meanwhile get one final chance to batter Philadelphia’s usually middling relievers. Let’s hope they do.

74 thoughts on “Phillies 5, Braves 4”

  1. The Dudgers have a losing record in September, the worst run differential of any division champion by far and would be the sweetest team to knock out of the playoffs. Plus the Braves would have home field over them in the NLDS.

    Bring them on.

  2. I agree. Being on the dodgers.

    It was a great play by Rollins. CJ has never been a fast runner. I honestly didn’t know Rollins can still make strong throw.

  3. Freddie’s average is now tied with Regression. The good news is that’s more because Freddie’s been really good recently than that Regression regressed (very much).

  4. “Uh, yeah. It’s great to be here, Ref. Um.. listen, I just wanted to know, um.. are you totally blind, or just legally blind.. uh.. so that, you know, you can make out shapes and degrees of light, you know, that kind of thing?”

    — “Referee Pitman Show,” SNL, 1989

  5. Why did E. Johnson steal with one out, man on third, and Uggla at bat? Bad call or not, it shows regression to small ball mentality. Uggla can hit fly balls.

  6. Though I would rather face the wild-card winner if given a choice, put me in the group that thinks you guys are way too concerned over whether this happens. The Dodgers have been playing like crap recently. We beat them in five of seven games this year. It’s certainly not the end of our season if we have to play the Dodgers, and it’s not worth acting like it’s some huge thing if today doesn’t go our way. Was it worth potentially giving up last night’s game to see if Walden could pitch? Yes, it was. Was it worth giving some people a little bit of rest over the last week instead of going all out to avoid the Dodgers? Yes, it was. It’s simply not that big of a deal. Just like with the “we must crush Washington because if we don’t, they could get in the playoffs and we know they’ll beat us there” thing, the whole thing is based on a defeatist premise that the team is not going to subscribe to.

  7. Facing Clayton Kershaw twice in a 5 game series is not a promising prospect. I’d much rather see literally anyone else twice in a short series.

  8. It would be nice to see the Cubs at least give St. Louis a competitive game. The decision that will cost the Braves is giving Paul Maholm his starts after his injury and removing Wood from the rotation.

  9. Marlins finish the season on a no-hitter… because the Tigers’ pitcher throws a wild pitch with the bases loaded.

    Edit: Fredi loves bunts, so I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised.

  10. If you had told me that a playoff-bound team would have been no-hit on the last day of the season, I think Detroit would have been my last guess. I know they’ve got some guys hurting, but how does that lineup not get a hit? And against the Marlins, no less.

  11. @16

    But why is that a bad decision? If you know that you’re going to send Wood to the bullpen in the playoffs, why would you not give him a week to adapt to that? Getting him acclimated to his new role is considerably more important than not facing the Dodgers.

  12. Yeah, you guys know what you’re talking about.

    @30

    It’s not a new role, but you’d like for him to get some appearances in the role and not just go into the playoffs without having done it in four months. The No. 1 seed is just not so important that you’d willingly hamstring yourself in such a fashion to get it.

  13. 37 — EJ got called out at second on a steal even though he had his foot on top of the bag before Utley even swiped at him.

  14. Time will tell I guess. I’m in the very concerned camp of having to face Kershaw twice in a 5 game series. Also, Wood has only faced 7 batters since Sept 18th.

  15. @42

    If he’s only faced seven batters since the 18th, couldn’t he just as easily be rusty? I wouldn’t want my ace pitcher to have faced only seven batters over two weeks leading into the playoffs.

  16. I had to edit that. Wood has only faced 7 batters so I guess the Braves haven’t felt the urgency of getting him that adjusted to the role. He could’ve gotten a couple of Maholms starts and then received some relief appearances.

  17. @47

    That’ll mean no three-team tiebreaker, right? Oh well, that would’ve been interesting. Still could have a two-team tiebreaker, I suppose.

  18. Friday’s game was already over by this time. We’re only in the 6th inning today. Offensive explosions are fun, especially when they occur over multiple innings, but they sure take a long time.

  19. It’s a nice prep for playoff baseball, where there’s a full 60 seconds of everybody staring at each other before every pitch.

  20. Screw that. They failed miserably last night, and against the Brewers and honestly, it depressed the crap out of me.

  21. Elliot Johnson has 5 RBI today. I believe that’s a sign of the apocalypse.

    Edit: Cards 4, Cubs 0, Dodgers and antacid on Thursday.

  22. And the Cubs are useless. Cue an insufferable week around here in which everyone assumes we’re already down 0-2.

  23. Freeman vs. Puig II: the media assumes it’s a slam dunk for the Dodger(s), but reality might be a little different.

  24. @63, the useless Cubs managed to take a game from the Braves last week, and almost 2 but for a 4 run rally in the 9th.

  25. I’ll take Medlen v Kershaw in Game 1 at home

    And after that (providing Minor remembers to get out of the 1st unscathed) it won’t get to game 5

    And I really like them to win in 3 straight

    I am, however, carrying an element of guilt having ridden the Cards to a full blown MLB -4 league title today – but I’ll ask for absolution before the NLCS

  26. 96 win season. Who would have thought that? That was a FUN season to watch. Now let’s make sure we kick some Dodger butt.

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