The Atlanta Braves' Long and Winding Road
Fellow members of Braves Country, our beloved Braves are 18 games above .500 and will end tonight up by at least 2.5 games ahead of the red hot Phillies. We sit a half game out of first place in the National League, and we have the second biggest division lead in Major League Baseball.
Soak all of that in fellow Tomahawk Choppers. Over the past month most of Braves Country has been in panic mode. Our once seemingly insurmountable lead of 7.5 games has melted to as low as a game at times over Philadelphia, whichs seemingly never lose lately. We have lost our MVP, Martin Prado, to the DL, Troy Glaus represents a black hole in the line up, and Billy Wagner seemingly blows save after save.
Yet go back and reread that first paragraph. Go back to early April when the Braves were mired in a season high embarrassing 9-game losing streak. If someone would have told you that on August 11 we'd have the second largest lead in baseball and would be 18 games over .500 I think 10-of-10 Braves fans would have taken that in a heartbeat.
Yes, we've gone through a rough patch recently and lost three straight series on most recent road trip. We couldn't buy a clutch hit with runners in scoring position to save our lives. However, we were just coming off an extended streak of amazingly clutch hitting and were red hot.
Baseball's a funny game and a game of streaks. Everything evens out by the end of the season. Over the past ten games are 7-3 and showing signs of turning around our poor offense. We took three of four from one of the hottest teams in baseball in the Giants, and just won a road series against a tough hot Astros team.
Prado seems to be recovering just fine and is on track to return within a week. That will be an emotional uplift to the team. Rookie phenom Jason Heyward seems to be finding his power stroke again which will help a lot.
Before he got injured Chipper Jones was regaining his power stroke as well. At first blush his injury looked devastating, however Jones remains optimistic that it's just a sprain and he will be back this season. When Prado comes back he will likely fill in for Chipper at third and keep Infante at second.
Does it hurt losing a key player to injury this late into a pennant race? Yes, but the beauty of this team is that it's not built around one or two guys. We are truly a team of 25 and at any given moment any member of the team is ready to step in and perform. Look at cult hero Brooks Conrad, or our All-Star Omar Infante, Eric Hinske, Matt Diaz, etc. Not to mention our rotation has been lights out the past few weeks. I'd put our rotation up against any in baseball.
The point is, cheer up Braves fans. We just went through our worst stretch of baseball since April all while the Phillies went through their best run of the season and we never fell out of first place. Philly will cool off some and we will play better. We will play Philly six times over the last two weeks of the season so our fate is in our own hand's.
The last month and a half of the season will be exciting, and I for one am looking forward to the ride.
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