But it’s a long, long while from [April] to December
And the days grow short when you reach September
And the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And I haven’t got time for the waiting gameMaxwell Anderson, slightly modified
When Maxwell Anderson (along with music by Kurt Weil) wrote this lyric he wasn’t thinking of baseball. He wasn’t much of a fan. If he had been, he’d have messed with the scansion to change “May” to “April.” In any case, here we are, entering September 3 games back.
Does history tell us anything? Not much. In their 57 years in Atlanta, they’ve only trailed by 5 or less coming into September three times. (Note, they’ve been in first on September 1 and have failed to seal the deal only once: 2010, and even then they bagged a wild card.) Those three:
1969: The Braves were in 4th place in the NL West, but were only two games out of first. A 20-7 September had them 3 games in the lead in the end. That was a great stretch run. Hank Aaron had an 8 WAR season. Phil Niekro had a 6 WAR season. Nobody else was over 4. The playoffs came to Atlanta, and it would be 13 years until they returned.
1983: 1.5 behind the Dodgers as they entered September. They were 6.5 up on August 16th, but they had coughed it up by September. An indifferent 12-17 September only cost them another 1.5 games in the standings, to 3 back by the end of the season, as the Dodgers staggered home and lost to the Phillies in the playoffs.
1993: Another great year. Trailing the Giants by 3.5 going into September, despite an outstanding 82-50 record, they put together a 22-8 stretch run and they needed every one of them, beating the Giants by one game.
So it’s been 29 years since there was a stretch run in which we were the chasers. 11 Braves weren’t born yet. Is there a stretch run to be had? Sure! Why not? But as Anderson says: “These precious days I’ll spend with you.”
Spencer Strider was (to paraphrase tfloyd) really good. Austin Riley has apparently recovered from the back troubles caused by sleeping on piles of money (under one theory) or recovered his stroke (under everyone else’s theory). Harris hit a homer and Dansby knocked one in with a single.
The critical moment came in the 8th. Strider gave up only his second hit, but an Olson error brought the tying run to the plate with one out. Strider then struck out the next two hitters to get the Atlanta record with 16 strikouts. Chip pointed out that the franchise record is Warren Spahn’s 18 strikeout performance. It should be pointed out that that performance came in a game in which Spahn pitched 15 innings. Strider worked 8. His 16 strikeouts through 8 have been bested only 18 times in MLB history.
Kenley Jansen worked an uneventful ninth. it’s unfortunate that that is an eventful statement at the moment.
It was one of those games broadcast from the Chop House. The nicest part of these games is that Chip has very, very little to do. McCann for the duration and visits from Snit, Jackson Stephens, Luke Jackson and Peter Moylan; if they could do that every night and cut Chip down to a couple of sentences an inning it would be a big improvement. And Frenchy is much better when he’s goofy, which he was for the whole game. The only thing better would be getting rid of Chip altogether and having a regular, traditional broadcast with someone competent replacing Chip.