Your First Place Atlanta Braves 6, Mariners 4

We should all thank heaven every day that we are Braves fans.  Just as importantly, we should all get down on our knees and give thanks that we’re not Mets fans. 

JonathanF wrote yesterday about the new book, A Fan’s Life: The Agony of Victory and the Thrill of Defeat, by Paul Campos.  As fate cursed Campos with being a fan of the Michigan Wolverines, millions of unfortunate souls have their daily emotional states tied to the fortunes of the Mets.

Let’s recount some recent history.  It’s familiar to all, but nonetheless delicious in the remembering.  On June 1, the Mets led the Braves by 10.5 games.  But over the next 7 weeks the Braves went 35-11, so that by July 23, the Braves had erased 10 games off the lead, closing to within a half game.  The Mets had not collapsed by any means.  Indeed, they maintained their lead into August, and when they took 4 of 5 from the Braves in the first week of August, the lead was back to 7 games.

But here we are, just one month later, and the Braves are in sole possession of first place (and the Mets are not), for the first time this season.  With last night’s 6-4 victory over the Mariners, and the Mets 6-3 loss to the Marlins, the Braves have a half game lead.  I don’t read Mets fan blogs, but those that do describe the despair and the recriminations.  It must be miserable.  But you know, I don’t even read Braves fan sites on the internet.  Other than this one, of course.  Which, as JonathanF noted yesterday, is a real blessing, thanks to our founder Mac and those who have continued to maintain this as a place of respectful, informed conversation.

I’ll recount the highlights of the game in short order:

The Braves had ten hits and six runs on the night.  Much of that came off a very good pitcher, Robbie Ray, who is having an excellent season.   Four of the hits were homers, by Swanson, d’Arnaud, Harris, and Grossman.  Harris and Grossman combined for 5 of the Braves 10 hits—out of the 7 and 9 spots in the order.  This continues to be one of the deepest lineups 1-9 I ever remember.

Charlie Morton started and looked pretty sharp—except for the three home runs he surrendered (other than that, Mrs. Lincoln….).  Morton has given up 24 home runs on the season, six more than he ever has.  His stuff looks good to my eye; the curve breaks as sharply as it ever has, and he can still pump the four seamer in there at 96-97 mph.  It may just be bad luck, but it’s also likely that he doesn’t command as consistently as he used to; sometimes the curve hangs and the fastball sits middle middle.  In any event, Morton has been pitching well.  Coming into the game, over his last 14 starts, Charlie’s ERA was 2.80, and the opponent’s BA has been .191.

The big three of Minter, Iglesias, and Jansen (Mintglesiansen?) held them scoreless over the final 2 and 2/3.  AJ bailed Charlie out of 7th inning trouble, Raisel struck out the side (with a walk) in the 8th and Kenly had a 1-2-3 9th, fanning two.

We have a thrilling home stretch ahead of us.  October baseball is great, but September baseball is just about as good, when two good teams battle it out down to the wire.  And I don’t think the Mets are going to fold just because they’re now in second place. 

But this Braves team is really good (Snit has me regularly using that phrase).  Since June 1, they are 64-24 (87-51 on the season).  The winning percentage .727.  For your reference, that’s really good.  No team since 1954 has ever played at a .727 clip over a 162 game season.  Of course 88 games is far from a full season.  But this team is playing as well in all phases of the game as any Atlanta Braves team.

  *   *   *

What the Braves have been doing the last three months reminds me of two of the great pennant races in which the Braves came from way back to win the pennant on the last day.

In 1993, the Braves were 9.5 games behind on Aug 11; they took over first just one month later, on September 11.  Then they went ahead of the Giants by 4 games on Sept 17.  But the Giants didn’t fold after blowing such a large lead.  They won 12 of the next 13 to force a tie going into the last weekend.  On the final day, the Braves beat the Rockies while Giants lost to the Dodgers.  (If Chip had been calling the games then, he’d have said “All Braves fans are Dodgers fans today.”)  The 1993 Braves were 55-42 on July 22.  They went 49-16 the rest of the way, a .753 percentage.

In 1991, the Braves were 9.5 games back on July 7 (going into the ASB), one game under .500.  On August 15 they were just a half game back, having made up nine games in a little over a month.  But they didn’t take sole possession of first until Aug 27.  Even then, it was far from over.  The Braves had fallen to two games back on Sept 27, but then won the next 8 games, from September 28 through October 5, to clinch the division.  The 1991 team went 55-20 in the second half, a .733 winning percentage.

  *   *   *

I imagine what I wrote at the beginning sounds like gloating.  I should know better.  The Mets are still a good team, especially so long as deGrom pitches every fifth day and if Scherzer’s injury is not significant.  And their schedule is very weak (although the Fish seem to disagree).  So it’s likely to go down to the wire.  The final weekend series at Truist looms large.  Still, I’d rather be us than them.

Tonight, Mighty Max takes the mound. First place feels pretty good–let’s try to stay there.

Author: tfloyd

Tfloyd was born on the site of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. Before the stadium was built, that is; it was then the site of Piedmont Hospital. It took the Braves another 11 years to arrive on what is now Hank Aaron Drive, but I‘ve always liked to arrive at the ballpark early.

27 thoughts on “Your First Place Atlanta Braves 6, Mariners 4”

  1. Great recap tfloyd. I bet JonathanF can tell us for a team that had a 14 game winning streak or better, what their next longest winning streak was in the same season.

  2. I know he can, and I bet he will! This is actually the second 8 game winning streak since the 14 game streak. I doubt that has happened.

  3. I don’t think anyone predicted as many wins as Atlanta should have at the end of the year. I know no one saw so much contribution from the 3 rookies (Harris, Strider, and Grissom), and the two almost rookies (Wright and Contreras). This has been a fun year whether we win the division or not. It would still be much more satisfying to win the division.

  4. The 1954 Cleveland Indians got swept in the World Series. I remember it well. Being an inveterate Bums fan, I was an Indian fan that series. Alas, the Giants just outplayed the Wahoos. Dusty Rhodes and Willie’s catch are all I recall.

  5. I’m in awe of MH2. I saw him in a game last summer in A-ball and his production at the MLB level so far is stunning.

  6. Yes, Harris is amazing. The double he hit last night was a routine to left single that he turned into a double just by running hard out of the box and never slowing down. By doing so, he scored a run that probably wouldn’t have scored otherwise. And the home run to left field showed what unexpected power he’s developed.

  7. @1, I remember reading as a kid that a New York Giants team of what was even then long ago, maybe in the 1910s or 1920s, had two very long winning streaks, both longer than 14 games and maybe around 20, and still didn’t win the pennant. My memory isn’t always accurate, so I’ll be interested to see what JonathanF can find.

  8. In the interest of good sportsmanship, I think we all owe the Mets congratulations on moving into the top Wild Card seed.

  9. That Bama/Texas game really reminded me of last year’s Bama/Auburn game. Bama’s O-line let them down, lotsa terrible penalties, & their opponent got some bad breaks. But in the end, Texas was never going to score much with their backup QB against that D. Texas missing that chip-shot FG at the end of the half sort of signaled that they’d probably let it slip thru their fingers. As long as UT’s lead was less than a TD, I never thought they’d win.

    Lotta weird stuff, though. Texas’ starting QB gets hurt early (sound familiar?) and the Texas kicker’s name was — I’m not making this up — Auburn.

    Dusty Rhodes with the cheapest walk-off HR in WS history — a pop-up hit down the line at the Polo Grounds, 258 feet to the foul pole.

  10. @11 Agreed. The Bama offense was totally sleepwalking until the 4th when Bryce got clutch. Just like last year’s Iron Bowl. Alabama seems to be much weaker than expected at WR and DB. I think they had themselves deluded because of those two units practicing against each other.

    As much of a Bama fan as I am, I still question Bryce’s Heisman from last year. He is an amazing magician at short and mid-range passes but he cannot throw the long ball. I thought both Tua and Mac were better overall QBs. I thin Bama’s offense gets in more trouble these days because teams are ignoring the long ball (i.e. don’t let Bama stretch the field). Texas definitely took advantage of that.

  11. #12
    Well, as a UGA fan who witnessed the ’21 SEC title game in-person, I have few doubts about Young’s ability to throw the deep ball.

    If I’m a Bama fan, I might worry more about the line’s relative inability to run-block — did you notice that Bama quit running almost entirely by mid-second half? — but also they didn’t protect Young that well today… kinda like last year’s Auburn game.

    Play of the game was Young shedding a blitzer that nobody picked up and scrambling into FG range. If he gets tackled for a loss there, they probably lose.

    But, they’ll figure it out. They always do.

  12. 3.5 innings in, and both pitchers dueling tonight. Zero solid contact so far. Hitting spots, mixing speeds, tons of movement. Not sure they’re are going to be a lot of runs tonight.

  13. I’ve got no dog in the fight, but I thought Bama looked bad, Young staked an early claim to Heisman with the late game heroics, and the early hit on Texas QB looked dirty to me.

  14. Everytime I see a highlight of Aaron Judge reminds me of the nightmare of we passed on him in draft in favor of a pitcher not even in baseball any longer .. stings bad ….

  15. @20 a whole bunch of trams passed on a third-rounder named Michael Harris II and a fifth-rounder named Spencer Strider.

    In 2009, Tyler Mattel was drafted 14 spots ahead of some kid from south Jersey named Mike Trout.

    Baseball is weird.

  16. If Chavez sticks around the majors next year, don’t think he’ll care much about the new pitch clock. Dude works quick!

  17. Roger,
    I usually agree with your baseball insights, but I could not disagree more with your take on Bryce Young. Top to bottom last year, I think last year’s Bama team was definitely the worst Saban has had that made it to a National championship game. They lose 3 or 4 without Bryce. Offensive line was horrible, although very talented, and Brian Robinson had no breakaway speed and wasn’t great as the primary back. After injuries we had no depth at running back.

    We lose against Texas without question without Young’s cool hand. He had no protection to start the game and when he got protection, receivers were dropping the ball. He stayed calm and found a way to win. Best part was he threw to several receivers to keep Texas off balance. I loved Tua and Mac and due to his height, Young may not be as good in the pros. However, I don’t think either could have carried Alabama like Young has with a poor offensive line and a mediocre running game at best.

  18. @25 – You are right. Last year’s offensive line was loaded with 5 stars and Neal was supposedly one of the best offensive linemen they’ve ever had. However, they played horrible as a unit. I blame the offensive line coach. We have a new line coach this year but not much improvement so far. We had 2 highly touted running backs go down with injury and a third who has never recovered from a car wreck. Outside of Williams and Metchie, 5 star receivers were terrible and dropped passes everywhere. Hall and Billingsley are proving to be head cases at Texas just like Alabama last year. On paper, unless we have a lot of injuries, this team should be much better than last year. Unfortunately they don’t play the game on paper.

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