Braves 2, Phillies 1

(Pinch hitting for smitty again today; smitty, I’m still praying for you and your wife. I hope she is improving. Update us when you get the chance.)

Final 2014 Box Score

The Braves decided that limiting their winning to Wednesdays only for a whole month was probably a bad idea, so they finished the season with their first winning streak of September (yes, two games is officially a streak). One positive of having a losing season is that you have a 50% chance to win your last game while playoff teams only have a 10% chance. The Braves took advantage of those chances and squeaked out a last-game win for the first time since 2006 (and before that 1995) to finish the season 79-83, tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East. What a weak division.

The Nationals finished the season with a no-hitter, 30 games over .500. No one else could crack 80 wins, and three teams (ATL, MIA, and PHI) finished the out the season going 3-7 over their last ten games. In comparison, the NL West had two teams with 80+ wins, and every other division had three teams. NL Least, indeed.

Alex Wood was scheduled to start this game, but he was scratched with a sore shoulder (please, please, please, please let that be nothing serious), and the bullpen combined to throw a gem that highlighted just how good the Braves pitching has been all season. Too bad their offense did not contribute at all, or else this team could have been special.

The Braves posted two on the board in the first inning off of Cole Hamels, before being no-hit for the rest of the day because this is, after all, still the 2014 season. Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a home run, and Freddie Freeman picked up an RBI single to plate the Braves last run before Hamels ever recorded an out. That first out had such a demoralizing effect on the offense that they rolled over and played dead for the remaining 26, and left it up to the pitchers to decide whether or not the team headed into the offseason on a victorious note.

James Russell pitched four innings of two-hit ball and Luis Avilan relieved him, throwing two innings and picking up the win. David Carpenter encountered some trouble in the 8th inning, but a run-scoring double play was the inning’s only damage and Craig Kimbrel did Craig Kimbrel things in the 9th to get the offense off the hook. The relievers combined to strike 10 Phillies out, which is impressive until you think about how many of their own teammates they could have struck out had they been facing the Braves offense.

The Braves posted their 2014 recap video with a “thank you to our fans theme”, but it only served to pour salt into the wound this season created. All the highlights the video contained were from April-June, which serves as a grim reminder that Braves baseball has not been enjoyable to watch since the All-Star Break. It was strange to see this team jumping around with joy in some of those highlights; it had been so long since that had happened that I had forgotten celebrations were once a reality. I did notice that no Dan Uggla highlights made the cut. He played four games for San Francisco; does this mean he will be the only member of the 2014 Atlanta Braves to get a playoff share?

The offseason has now officially officially started, and I cannot wait until spring. Braves baseball has been over for a little over four hours and I already miss it, putrid as it was. May the 2015 season come quickly, and may it contain more victories, fewer Chip Caray-isms, and an epic Nationals collapse.

Natspo(s) delenda est in the Division Series. Go Pirates.

30 thoughts on “Braves 2, Phillies 1”

  1. Out of the 75 players on the five (5) NL “playoffs” rosters, there are two (2) with an OPS above 900. Andrew McCutchen, who is really good, and Scott Van Slyke, who is a glorified platooner. TWO PLAYERS who posted a meager 900. This league is pathetic. It’s literally McCutchen, Clayton Kershaw, and a bunch of overrated bench warmers.

  2. I hope smitty doesn’t mind me sharing the gist of his Facebook updates: it’s slow-going and frustrating to be sure, but there has been improvement and thoughts and prayers are definitely appreciated.

    Seems like just a mild forearm strain for Wood.

  3. The author said, “Braves baseball has been over for a little over four hours…”. NUTS, the Braves season has been over for almost 3 months!!! I have rarely seen a club take such a big nose-dive so fast. By mid-September, I was calling them “The Atlanta Cubs.” Let’s hope the new GM will find a manager and hitting coach who can get these guys playing Braves baseball next season. I have been saying for a month, “Thank God for football season!”

  4. Oh, also…lil baby smitty seems to be doing just fine.

    Given the Vols’ performance, it may be papa smitty who’s in need of the biggest lift :)

  5. From the AJC: “Out of 110 major league pitchers who’ve logged at least 140 innings this season, Alex Wood ranks 109th in run support with just 2.75 runs per start, ahead of only the Padres’ Eric Stults (2.58).”

  6. Just make sure you’re around in June to tell us who we would have drafted, and then again 3-4 years later so you can remind us that it would have all worked out perfectly.

  7. @11 You have just described Braves Journal, sir.

    Thanks to all those who took up the increasingly grim task of recapping this year, it’s been a great pleasure to read such varying styles and viewpoints. And best wishes to Smitty and his family.

  8. Didn’t Simmons also tie the club record for GIDP? I kinda lost track at the end there…the chase wasn’t as exciting as I thought it might be.

  9. He set the Atlanta club record with 25, which is tied for third on the franchise list. Yunel Escobar held the previous Atlanta record with 24 GiDP in 2008.

    Chris Johnson also makes the top-10 GiDP list in franchise history, making his 2014 the only player-season that ranks in the franchise’s top-10 for most strikeouts and most GiDP. Somebody give that guy an extension!

    GiDP list below.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0&type=0&season=2014&month=0&season1=1871&ind=1&team=16&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=19,d

  10. Regarding the draft, a pick up or down rarely means much unless you are at the very top with a “no brainer” number one.

    What I think matters to the Braves is whether their first pick is protected. That is, they won’t lose it if they sign a free agent. They are pretty close to the line, I think.

    Does anyone know if they are protected?

  11. It’s the top 10 picks that are protected. Top 11 this year because of the Astros extra pick at #2, so ours is not protected.

  12. Who would the Braves be likely to sign who’s subject to a qualifying offer in any event? Pablo Sandoval, but I don’t see where they’d get the money to pay him (and dump Johnson).

  13. Gardenhire had a hell of a run with the Twins for a while — they were a terrific team from 2002 to 2010, despite having hardly any budget. He clearly needed to get out of there, and he clearly has some significant flaws, but I’m not convinced he’s a bad manager. He did extremely well in Chris Jaffe’s book.

  14. Missed this from Peanut: Now that a frustration-filled season is complete, Minor can now begin preparing for what he can only hope will be a much smoother offseason. Most of the problems he experienced over the past nine months were seemingly influenced by the idle January he was forced to experience after undergoing a urinary tract procedure on Dec. 31.

    Because he was not permitted to do any physical activity for most of January, Minor was unable to complete his normal preseason preparations. Consequently, he was way behind schedule and began dealing with left shoulder discomfort shortly after arriving for Spring Training in the middle of February.

    Makes sense. It’s understandable why, but one wishes these guys wouldn’t try to tough it out.

  15. I’m up here in Minnesota. Gardenhire is dumber than a chicken, but I was a bit surprised he got fired. He’s so old school, he’s a fan of the McGuffey reader. Thought he should have been gone two years ago after the 2nd consecutive 90-loss season, but the Twins are the most Ludditish team in the bigs right now (and it’s not about statistical analysis or stuff like that).

    I should say, however, that David Ortiz’ career would have probably tanked years ago without Gardenhire’s intervention. Tom Kelly was the Twins’ manager and he could not stand Ortiz in any way shape or form (probably because Ortiz’ body lacked any form). Kelly wanted to ship Ortiz to AAA, but then Kelly’s dad got sick and he took a leave to be with him. Gardenhire immediately inserted Ortiz into the line-up. Ortiz responded. The Twins still non-tendered Ortiz a year or so later, but he was able to put up enough in terms of numbers to pique the interest of several other big league squads (including the Braves, who ended up with Rob Fick instead).

    So I would say stay away from Gardenhire. Good baseball guy who gets a lot out of his bench, but really goofs around with his line-up too much and isn’t that good with the development of younger players (a virus he may have contracted from close contact with Tom Kelly).

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