The month of September…perhaps the unkindest of months to the Atlanta Braves and their fans in recent years. In 2011 the Braves were part of a monumental dual-league September collapse with the Boston Red Sox, as both teams squandered sizable leads for making the postseason and ended up sitting home in the fall.
Could it happen again?
But seriously, another Braves collapse is not very likely, but they are certainly doing their best to give fans flashbacks and night-sweats with their performance this September.
When a game that could have been potentially part of a division-clinching doubleheader ends with an Andrelton Simmons error and a Craig Kimbrel blown save, there is reason to worry. Maybe not to worry about the Braves making the postseason, but about them sputtering into October with one engine flamed out and the other blowing smoke.
I said a few weeks ago how Jason Heyward‘s injury was bigger to the Braves than many believed, and that it might take every game of their then 15-game lead in the division to win this thing. One reader replied, “no way we blow our lead in the NL East, thats a joke…even for the braves”.
That lead has now been reduced to eight games.
I repeat, could it happen again?
The Braves have 11 games remaining in the 2013 regular season, so mathematically, yes….it could. But I still say it’s not likely. Atlanta finishes up the season (once they’re done laying eggs in Washington) with the Chicago Cubs (3-0), Milwaukee Brewers (1-2) and Philadelphia Phillies (8-7).
The Braves went 9-18 in September of 2011 to blow an 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card standings to the St. Louis Cardinals who went 18-8 to overtake the Braves. So far this season, the Braves have gone 6-10 in the month of September and lost six games from their 14 game lead over the Washington Nationals (who, incidentally have gone 13-3 in September thus far).
Let’s see, what were the excuses, umm…I mean reasons for the 2011 fold? Injuries, young pitching staff, overworked bullpen, and key hitters in season-ending (or even season-long) slumps.
This can’t be happening again.
In 2011, the Cardinals banded together as a team to give one last great run for retiring Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa. Their season ending run carried them right through to an unlikely World Series championship.
Didn’t someone say Davey Johnson was retiring after this season?
Here’s the good news. The magic number is four. Only four. That means any combination of Braves wins and Nationals losses that equal four will clinch the NL East for the Braves. This Braves team can win 4 of 11 can’t they? The Nationals are bound to lose at least a couple of more games this season aren’t they? Anyone? Anyone?
At the risk of repeating myself, I honestly don’t believe the problem for the Braves is going to be getting into postseason play, it’s going to be how brief their October will end up being if they don’t start hitting, and the baseball gods don’t stop messing with them.
Craig Kimbrel doesn’t walk multiple batters and blow saves in September, so there has to be some divine force at work against the Braves here.
Someone get hold of Chief Noc-A-Homa and let’s get that teepee set up over by the 755 Club before this thing gets out of hand.
Michael Collins is an Atlanta sports humorist, columnist, radio host and owner of Georgia Sports Craze. He is a member of the FWAA and eats peanut butter straight from the jar. Follow on Twitter @GaSportsCraze on Facebook here or on Google here