The Atlanta Braves ran away with the NL East at 96-66 during the regular season and finished one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in the National League and also a game behind the Redbirds and Boston Red Sox for best record in all of baseball, yet that means nothing at this point.
The Bravos are on life support, ladies and gentlemen, and it is not looking good for them after their 13-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 3 of the NLDS on Sunday.
There are so many things that can be attributed to this.
How about the fact that Atlanta batters have struck out 29 times in three games? That is not likely to garner a series win at all and it’s hard to argue against it being a heavy contribution to why Atlanta is in the shape it is in.
Or look at the fact that they did not hit a single home run this series until Jason Heyward’s two run in blast in the top of the 9th. Granted, they don’t have to hit home runs to win, but they sure could use it given the high octane offense the Dodgers have displayed. The Dodgers hit two shots on Sunday, a three run homer from Carl Crawford in bottom of the 2nd, then a two run blast from Juan Uribe in the bottom of the 3rd.
Things could’ve been looking up for the Braves on Sunday. We know what 22-year-old right hander Julio Teheran is capable of. Just ask the Pittsburgh Pirates, whom Teheran was four outs away from no-hitting on June 5 and if the Braves come back and the Bucs hang on to their series lead, Teheran could face them again in the NLCS.
Teheran won three of his last four starts, including the season finale 12-5 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was one of the finest rookies in all of baseball this season. He had himself a 2-0 lead before it got away from him. He surrendered 6 runs and ended up losing the game for the Braves in game 3.
Then Alex Wood was hardly any better. He gave up 4 runs and dished up Uribe’s two run shot. The only thing positive for him is he did not get the loss. There probably were Braves fans begging for Craig Kimbrel to pitch every inning on Sunday. Atlanta pitchers just couldn’t figure out the Dodgers, especially not Hanley Ramirez, who found himself a home run away from the cycle.
Now, Hyun-Jin Ryu was not great either as he let in 4 runs on 6 hits himself, but with the talented Dodger offense, at least on Sunday he was able to afford to not be at his best.
The Braves must remember they are not out yet. They send 35-year-old righty Freddie Garcia to the mound Monday night against Ricky Nolasco. Garcia has been there before. He is 6-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 10 career postseason starts.
Garcia faces Ricky Nolasco, who is set to make is first career postseason start. The Braves can push this thing back to Turner Field, in which the Braves were 56-25 this season. As great as Clayton Kershaw has been all year, all the Braves would need in game five would be to tag him for one single run, and the comeback could be complete.
Otherwise, this team could leave as early as game 4 or experience heartbreak in game 5. In that case, a great regular season would be washed away as Atlanta would exit on yet another postseason whimper.
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