Baseball is a funny game. It really is. The Braves and Cardinals have each played 161 games and nothing has been decided. I realize that this is not the first or last time this will happen but when you really think about it, how crazy is it that two teams that have played that many games have identical records? With all that goes on during the regular season you would think it’d be extremely unlikely. However here we are, the situation isn’t a good one for the Braves but yet I still find comfort in the fact that it could be worse.
There is obviously a lot of emphasis on game 162 tonight, as there should be. Two teams are fighting for the final playoff spot in the National League and both come from very different situations. The Braves are a team that started out strong and built a huge lead in the standings, only to let it slip away. The Cardinals on the other hand, saw a late season surge that allowed them to get right back into this race.
Two teams in the same spot that took two completely different paths to get there. Now sure momentum is huge here and the Cardinals certainly have that. However both teams find themselves in a VERY dangerous situation. It’s a one game season right now and you never know what will happen in any given game as it is just a TINY piece of the baseball season. For all we know Carpenter can take the mound for the Cardinals tonight and give up 6 runs in the first inning. Would that be the first time an ace pitcher has gotten hammered? How will Hudson fare under the bright lights of game 162? We just don’t know. The key for both teams will be to get off to a fast start.
A lot of people look at these match ups and say that the Braves are in a tougher spot then the Cardinals. Yes on paper the Cardinals are playing the Astros and the Braves are playing the Phillies. But lets look just a little bit closer. Hudson will face Joe Blanton who hasn’t made a ton of starts this year and the ones he has made haven’t been very good at all. The Braves have a HUGE advantage in this game as they also have the home town fans on their side and to me that does make a difference.
The Cardinals are playing a team with over 100 loses. But tonight they are facing a red hot Brett Myers who has an era of under 2.00 for the month of Sept. He’s throwing the ball extremely well right now and he is capable of shutting down the Cardinal offense and hopefully he will. Carpenter will give the Cardinals a great chance to win as well but the pitching match up here is much more balanced then the one that will be going on in Atlanta.
The Braves have backed themselves into a corner but still control their own destiny. At no point in this season have they needed another team to lose so badly. They just needed to take care of their own business which they have failed to do. They have had the Wild Card lead since the 20th of June! That’s over 3 months of being on t op in the standings and to lose it all on the last day of the season would be heart breaking.
If the Braves win and the Cardinals lose they are in.
If the Braves lose and the Cardinals lose then they have a one game playoff
If the Braves win and the Cardinals win then they have a one game playoff.
If the Braves lose and the Cardinals win then they will be eliminated.
3 out of the 4 scenarios are decent for Atlanta. They would at least give them the chance to play an extra game tomorrow. Only 1 of the 3 scenarios is troublesome. So in a sense we still control our own destiny. If we win today then we can’t go home and that’s something the Braves need to take comfort in.
By: Bob McVinua