The world will little note nor long remember what I say here in this recap. Of course that’s the case every week with what I write.
But unlike much of this magical season, we can also forget pretty quickly what the Braves did here on Friday night. This was the first truly meaningless game of the season, in the sense of having no impact whatsoever on the standings, postseason chances, or home field advantage of any team. As JonathanF said in the game preview, the only thing to play for was stats.
And even most of the attainable individual and team stats had already been resolved before last night. Ronald Acuña, Jr., already established the 40/70 club, along with a plethora of other unprecedented combinations of hits, runs, ribbies, homers, etc. Olson already holds the franchise season record for homers and rbi.
There was one individual season stat set last night. Ronald stole second base in each of the first two innings before being pulled for rest. Those two bags tied him with Otis Nixon for the franchise record of 72. It was good to see Otis in attendance.
The remaining significant team statistical accomplishment, to my mind, is the all-time season home run record. The Braves came into Friday night’s game with 304 dingers, just three short of the 2019 Twins. It may not be entirely rational, but I really want this all-time great offensive team to break that record.
There were five home runs hit Friday night. If that is all you know, you would assume the Braves likely have at least tied the record. After all, the Braves have more than twice the number of homers as the Nats on the season, who rank 29th in MLB in home runs. Indeed, any four of Olson, Acuña, Riley, Ozuna, and Albies have more on the season than the entire Washington roster.
But all five of those home runs last night were stroked by the Natspos, leading them to a 10-6 victory. Allan Winans started and gave up three of those long balls, yielding six runs in five and a third. His calling card is keeping the ball down, inducing ground balls, and keeping the ball in the yard. This outing did not enhance his prospects for making the post-season roster. The one bright spot on the mound was Jackson Stephens, who tossed two scoreless hitless innings with two K’s. Eight of the ten runs scored via those five homers. Our guys also committed three errors that led to the two runs that did not score via the home run.
The Braves did have 17 hits on the night, but as 15 of those were singles, they yielded just six runs.
As I said, a very forgettable night, so no need for me to write any more about this game. As to season stats, there is still time to break that home run record, although I suspect the big sluggers may be resting as much as they play in the last two games. One other significant team record is at stake. No team in MLB history has ever slugged .500 for a season. These Braves have a slugging percentage of .501. I haven’t looked at the math enough to know whether they could fall below that in two games, but let’s don’t take any chances—keep slugging away.
Spencer Strider takes the hill Saturday night in his final playoff tune-up. It’s most important that he be at his peak when he takes the mound in another week or so in the NLDS. But he also has a couple of records to shoot for in the regular season. With three punchouts, he will surpass John Smoltz for the franchise record for strikeouts in a season. And although we all know Wins are overrated, it would still be cool for him to get number 20. He’s sitting on 19.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the playoffs.