Braves 5, Marlins 4 (11 innings)

A cynic would note that wins are largely unimportant at this point. Atlanta’s NL East lead is practically insurmountable. It would definitely be great to secure home-field advantage in the NL – the Braves now have a 3-game lead on the West-leading Dodgers, and a 4-game lead on the Central-leading Pirates – but in the end we’re only talking about a one game swing: nice, but not a deal-breaker. Much more important is keeping everyone healthy, happy, and in sync. And while it’s always nice to win – especially against the Marlins, especially on a walk-off – my biggest concern at the end of each game is whether the team’s best players survived intact.

And yet. If getting Jason Heyward back remains the most important x-factor for the Braves’ post-season chances, B.J. Upton returning to form is probably the second. With that in mind, last night’s seemingly unimportant game might turn out to have been rather important after all. B. J. Upton had a monster night: he went 4 for 6, and in the process drove in 3 of the team’s 5 runs, produced 4 of its 11 hits, and crushed the team’s only home run. He also walked it off with a shot into the right-center field gap in the bottom of the 11th. We have seen this before, to be sure. Every now and then the lesser Upton will put his mouth-watering tools to good effect, and everyone suddenly will find themselves nodding and winking and wondering “what if.” But our staying wary does not mean we should lose all hope: it could still happen. B.J. Upton could still get hot. And what if he did?

In other news, Mike Minor looked somewhat pedestrian. His 6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio was nice, but the 2 home runs he surrendered were not. All in all, Mikey remains the team’s best starter; his 3.22 FIP is easily the lowest among qualified starters, while his 3.2 fWAR is easily the highest. Braves fans, though, are surely hoping his August numbers (4.71 ERA, 4.48 xFIP) are not a harbinger for things to come. They’re going to need him to be an ace in the playoffs.

And in still other news, Chris Johnson just keeps hitting. He tallied 4 more hits, which increases his lead for the National League’s batting title. Those of us who argued his .460 April BABIP was unsustainable are, I suppose, “vindicated” by recent events: he has “only” posted a .392 BABIP since then. But that’s still ridiculous, and the .817 OPS since May 1st is nothing to sneeze at anyway. Not bad for a throw-in.

Today Atlanta goes for the sweep, and their 7th win in a row. I’ll take that. You’ll take that. We’ll all take that, obviously. Just stay healthy, my friends.

61 thoughts on “Braves 5, Marlins 4 (11 innings)”

  1. A very minor quibble – home field advantage would also guarantee not facing LA in a short series, which I would argue is pretty important.

  2. Minor is not our best pitcher right at this very moment. He has undoubtedly had the best year. I’m still not crazy about him getting the ball in game 1, but I know he will. I wouldn’t mind skipping his turn one more time this month to give him rest. Teheran needs rest too.

  3. Minor didn’t let those home runs bother him last night. He doesn’t get flustered, which is why I’m okay with him starting Game #1 of a series.

  4. If the Braves don’t win home field, the Dodgers probably will. So they still wouldn’t face each other.

    re: Minor, I noted his numbers in August. But 5 starts is a meaninglessly small sample. Folks on here are very prone to recency bias. Remember last week when I noted that there wasn’t anything to worry about, even after 3 losses to the Cardinals? Somebody here yelled “yes there is!” Well, there wasn’t. And Minor will be fine.

  5. Does how you play in September have any correlation to October performance? If it’s just a random crapshoot then I’m not going to get excited even if BJ hits 15 HRs this month.

  6. If that’s the case, then why get bothered about his hitting this season when his overall track record clearly shows he’s a decent hitter?

  7. Let’s take it one step further, Krussell: you just said Minor isn’t the best pitcher right now, and so don’t want to see him start Game 1 of a playoff series. But if BJ catches fire then it doesn’t matter. So the bad things that happen in the recent past are predictive, but the good things aren’t. Got it.

  8. That’s not what I meant at all. I’m asking if anyone knows if recent performance heading into the playoffs matters. If it does matter then good/bad Septembers might influence the playoff lineup and rotation.

  9. There’s been a lot of Octobers, so the sample size should be decent. It’s the same as asking if there’s anything to “momentum” and the “hot-hand” theory, but limited to the last two months of the season.

  10. well then, first define “hot” and then define “hot” in October and look up the player seasons that meet and don’t meet the criteria. I don’t have P-I or I’d do it for you.

  11. September performance for teams don’t matter at all for October – I believe it has been shown that there is no correlation. As far as individual players go, I don’t know.

  12. As long as we keep seeing clubs like the ’06 Cardinals or the ’87 Twins win the WS and clubs like the ’98 Braves or ’01 Mariners not even take the pennant, I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about what might or might not happen.

    Anything’s possible. If you can get into the tournament, you can win it.

    As for the NLDS rotation, let’s see which club we draw, let’s see who’s not hurting. Game 1 is an entire month away.

  13. It probably comes down to whether we can score more than three runs in any playoff game. I think this lineup is capable of absolutely anything on either end of the spectrum. I have this weird feeling that we’re going to hit the ball as well as we ever have in the postseason. I have no idea where that’s coming from.

    So last night BJ’s swing and approach looked vastly different to me. He was loading his hands, was very loose, and looked like he was in attack-mode up there. If this is more than an aberration…look out. I know we’ve said “BJ is looking better up there” before, but this time it’s different ;-)

  14. I agree, he looked really quick through the ball. But I specifically remember that IT WAS ME that said the EXACT SAME THING on August 7 or whatever day he had his last 4-hit game.

    As with virtually every other thing, I guess it’s a wait-and-see.

  15. If BJ’s approach was similar to Chris Johnson’s, BJ could be an MVP candidate. I’ve said it before, but the BJ Upton of 2007 could be an MVP candidate with his experience since then. As a 22 year old, he put up a .300.386/.508 slash. He also stole 22 bases (his lowest total until this year). Add to that above-average defense at a premium position, and he’s an All-Star/MVP candidate. But nooooooo, he has to have the long, multi-movement swing that could hit a ball 500 feet once a week.

  16. Yeah unless we crater and get passed by both the Dodgers and the eventual winner of the central, we will have homefield advantage in the division series.

    If we have the best record, we’ll get Pirates/Cards/Reds for 5 games with homefield, and then get the Dodgers or Pirates/Cards/Reds for 7 games with homefield.

    If the Dodgers pass us, we’ll get Pirates/Cards/Reds for 5 with homefield, and then the Dodgers for 7 without it, or Pirates/Cards/Reds with homefield.

    If we get passed by the Dodgers PLUS one of the Pirates/Cards/Reds, we’ll get Pirates/Cards/Reds for 5 without homefield, and then Dodgers/Pirates/Cards/Reds for 7 without it.

    Only way we play the Dodgers in a 5 game series with THEM having homefield is if the Cards/Pirates have the best record, and then the Dodgers, and then us.

  17. By the way, is there a framework for how the playoff games will be scheduled? I might be in Atlanta in October, and I would love to catch a playoff game when I’m there. Of course it’s contingent on what happens here in September.

  18. @30, he looked like a completely different hitter there. I mean it looked really really good to me. They showed the last swing in slo-mo and he was loading his hands, leg-kick was on time, and he went out and got that ball and hit it where it was pitched. *That* is what we paid $75 million for. The potential is there…it’s just a matter of unleashing it.

  19. Lineup:

    1. Schafer 9
    2. Simmons 6
    3. Freeman 3
    4. JUpton 7
    5. Laird 2
    6. BUpton 8
    7. Uggla 4
    8. Janish 5
    9. Wood 1

  20. @22 That’s the sanest thing I’ve read anybody say in any context, on any subject, this week.

    EDIT: That’ll do, Simba.

  21. Wood looking pretty bad out there so far today – fastball not so fast, unable to spot his breaking pitches. Getting ugly out there. He’s also suffering from a very high BABIP, but that’s what happens sometimes when you pitch like crap.

  22. Well, this is going south quickly.

    EDIT: Okay, I have better things to do with a Sunday afternoon. See y’all later.

  23. 5-zip. Wood looks double plus ungood.

    PS: Freddy Garcia up in the bullpen. Well, this’ll at least be a slightly more interesting game.

  24. He’s not going to be among the September ERA leaders.

    And Garcia’s warming up. Yikes, this is about to get circus ugly.

  25. I don’t think this is a lineup that can score 5, but at least we still extended the lead this weekend so overall a success

  26. It’s not fun watching the Fish take BP in HD.

    Edit (in the voice of Lou Brown): “I think you can go get him now…”

  27. Well… one hopes that this will be a learning experience for Wood. That was depressing as all hell.

  28. I mean no disrespect to my favorite pitcher of all time, but when did Freddy Garcia inherit Rick Mahler’s stuff?

  29. Varvaro has to be thinking: “Whew! If this game had happened a week ago, I’d be eating these innings, instead of relishing my first save.”

  30. The Braves’ play today seems to have stunned this site into silence. Over three hours between posts #56 and #57.

  31. It is very likely that we will clinch the divisional title in Miami.

    And good that we will miss Niese for the next three games, otherwise we may need to sit all the left-handed hitting players on the bench for that game. Young better not steps on anyone’s foot again.

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