The Atlanta Braves won’t make the playoffs this season. At least that’s what everyone is saying.
But with 10 games left in the regular season, the Braves have moved within 3 1/2 games of the Wild Card-leading Colorado Rockies. Seven of those last 10 games are against the Washington Nationals, who lost their league-leading 100th game Thursday night.
In the next 10 games, Atlanta will now need to finish at least 7-3 to have any shot at catching Colorado. Over that stretch, the Rockies play nine games and would need to go 3-6, resulting in both teams tying at 89-73. If Atlanta were to go 8-2, the Rockies would need to go 4-5 to force a tie.
Sure, it’s a stretch, but don’t count Atlanta out just yet.
The Rockies have dropped seven of their last 11 games, including four games to the woeful San Diego Padres. To close out the season, Colorado must face St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles. It’s not an easy stretch of games for any team, especially one that is struggling.
The Braves have won 11 of their last 13 games, and for the first time all season, are close to having a full, healthy roster. Center fielder Nate McLouth is back from injury, and the arrival of Tim Hudson has solidified an already strong pitching staff.
Either way, Atlanta deserves a lot of credit for making a run this late in the season. The Braves flirted with the Wild Card the entire second half of the season, but the wheels seemed to come off in early September. After the bullpen blew two consecutive games to division rival Florida, the Braves were swept at home by Cincinnati.
The five-game losing streak ended any hope of the Braves catching Philadelphia for the National League East and put them in a deep hole in the Wild Card. Yet, at the lowest point of the season, Atlanta started playing their best ball.
Now, it’s the end of September, and Atlanta is still playing important games and putting pressure on the team in front of them. That says a lot.