If you’re like me, you are bracing for the worst this evening, and if this is it, 2023 was still an unbelievable season!
Hoping for the best and bracing for the worst is one way of coping with disappointment. I have said on multiple occasions how special this summer was and how much fun I had watching this team. THAT IS STILL TRUE! And I don’t want the season to end, especially in the same fashion it did a year ago.
I’ve seen a lot of social media posts in the past 18 hours about how the offense needs to wake up. I wish it was as simple as pressing a button to ignite the launch sequence on all nine bats in the lineup. As we are well aware, however, baseball is a game of failure and when you try too hard, it seems failure is exacerbated.
If this is our final Striderday of 2023, I hope it looks a lot like Saturday’s start at Truist Park. Apart from the errant throw to first that led to Philly’s first run, Spencer Strider pitched like an ace. He will have to again today, as philthy as the Philly offense has been. Bryce Harper is on a tear, and has a 2.417 OPS in the postseason against Strider. Unfortunately, Bryson Stott is not far behind, entering tonight’s game with a 1.750 OPS against Strider.
In Game One, Strider allowed five hits and two runs (just one earned) in seven innings of work. He struck out eight and walked two. AJ Minter also gave up an unearned run in the loss. Harper provided the only earned run of the evening with a laser over the right field fence.
The Braves offense needs to do a little hunting against Ranger Suarez this evening. Suarez allowed just one hit and one walk in 3.2 innings in Game One before giving way to the bullpen. Rob Thomson used six relievers to shutout the Braves at home for the first time all season.
Suarez did a good job of mixing his low-mid 90’s fastball with a big curveball. Suarez was noticeably upset when he was removed so early. My hope is he is again visibly upset tonight, this time removed early because the Atlanta offense tees off on him!
As Michael Scott might say, “How the turntables.”: The 2023 Braves have the most prolific offense in the history of the game. Atalanta set too many records to count, but through the Wild Card round and three games of the NLDS, it is the Philly offense who has been philthy. Harper, JT Realmuto, Trea Turner, Brandon Marsh, and Nick Castellanos all have an OPS north of 1.000. Castellanos and Harper both homered twice last night in Game Three, and they are playing footloose and fancy free. Only Austin Riley (.846) and Ozzie Albies (.826) are near their season-long offensive performances for the Braves this postseason.
Undoubtedly, the Braves have not been good. But on the other hand, the Orioles and Dodgers (both 100+ win teams) were swept and are starting their winter hibernation.
Start time moved back
In the immortal words of Huey Lewis (I’m not sure why I’m waxing 80’s music this week), “If this is it, please let me know…” Lord knows I don’t want this to be it – and neither do you. Game time has been pushed back to 8:07 ET/7:07 CT with every other LDS’ already completed.
Cheers to at least one more night of Braves baseball this season. I hope we have something to cheer about as the game is played. See you soon in the comment section throughout the game. Go Braves…score early and often!