|(Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press)|
Call it a hunch or gut instinct or whatever you like, but my prediction is that the Atlanta Braves are about to break out of this offensive slump they’ve been mired in during the month of September, and it will keep rolling on into the postseason.
Last night’s shutout loss (the fourth this season against the Brewers) and bench-clearing bru-ha-ha might have been exactly what the Braves needed to give them a little jolt and wake them up from this month of sleepwalking (but just for good measure, maybe one of the guys should light a smudge pot of black powder and incense just to “wake up bats”).
Last night, Brewers starting pitcher Kyle Lohse dominated the Braves (once again) just as he did in last season’s Wild Card playoff game when he pitched against Atlanta with the Cardinals. This gave the Atlanta hitters a good idea of what they’ll be facing in the postseason and perhaps helped to get their minds into a more focused place.
The good news is that the Philadelphia Phillies are coming to town, and although the friction between the Braves and Phillies isn’t what it used to be, it’s a good way to close out the regular season against a familiar opponent. The Braves are 4-2 against Philly at Turner Field this season, having scored six or more runs in three of those wins.
Projected pitching matchups for the four-game series:
Thursday: David Hale (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Tyler Cloyd (2-6, 5.40 ERA)
Friday: Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.24 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.93 ERA)
Saturday: Mike Minor (13-8, 3.22 ERA) vs. (Unknown)
Sunday: Julio Teheran (13-8, 3.09 ERA) vs. Zach Miner (0-1, 3.08 ERA)
With those matchups, and the Braves better than average success against Lee (3-3 with a .243 BAA and 3 HR surrendered in his last seven starts against Atlanta) there is no reason that a season-ending sweep isn’t out of the question.
Right now Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann, the two team leaders, are about as fired up and emotional as you’ll ever see them. The hangover from the “we finally won the NL East again” is done, and the team will be seeing red as they fight for home field advantage in the playoffs.
This will be the series where the Braves start to put it all together. The team is seeing the urgency of the situation, the key pieces are getting healthy again, and they get to end the regular season at Turner Field, where they have been dominant (except against the Brewers) all season.
The fans will not feel unappreciated for Fan Appreciation Weekend.
Touching Them All:
- The Braves have scored three or fewer runs in eight straight home games. Look for that to end tonight.
- The Braves are 8-7 in the season series with Philadelphia, including 4-2 at home.
- A win on Thursday would be Atlanta’s 94th of the season, matching the 2012 total.
- The Phillies have lost six of seven games, scoring 18 total runs and going without a homer in that span.
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