Atlanta Braves Lose to Florida Marlins, Wild Card Lead Thinning Fast

Ethan BatsonContributor ISeptember 22, 2011

Derek Lowe leads an inconsistent Braves' starting staff.
Derek Lowe leads an inconsistent Braves' starting staff.Marc Serota/Getty Images

The Braves are reeling in Miami.

After playing well all season long, the Atlanta Braves are picking the wrong time to fall into a slump. After commanding a huge wild-card lead, the Braves have gone 9-15 since August 26th, and have seen their lead shrink to one-and-a-half games over the surging St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals have gone 18-6 over that same span and their MVP, Albert Pujols, has hit over .400 in August. Braves starting pitching has been inconsistent, due largely to poor performances by ace Derek Lowe, and injuries to All-Star Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson.

After splitting the first two games of the series, the Marlins shut down the Braves in the rubber match of the three-game set. The Braves were unable to produce against former Brave Javier Vazquez, who pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits and a walk, and striking out six. The Braves went quietly in the eighth and ninth innings for their fourth loss in six games.

Braves starter Derek Lowe, who has not pitched well lately, was not given any run support. Lowe was again ineffective, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, two walks, and three earned runs. Lowe’s recent struggles have left questions about the Braves’ rotation heading into the playoffs, if they make it into October at all.

Normally, it is the teams that are behind in a playoff race that scoreboard watch in hopes their competitor loses. Lately, it looks like the Braves are just keeping an eye on the competition, hoping that they just fade away.

If they do not start winning soon, it will not matter if they reach the postseason or not. A slumping team will not make it to the World Series.