Brooks Conrad Steps Up
The Braves completed a sweep of the Marlins last night despite losing Martin Prado for the year Monday night.
The Braves we’ve known all season long appeared in this series. Gritty. Determined to win. They even added another last at bat win on Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, Conrad tied the game in the 7th with an RBI triple and two batters later, Eric Hinske hit a pinch hit 2-run homer to give the Braves the edge.
Conrad was the hero last night, ripping a 3-run homer to left-center field in the bottom of the third. It gave the Braves a 4-0 lead at that point.
Braves pitchers didn’t need much, though. Starter Derek Lowe pitched 5.2 innings on three days rest. He struck out nine and walked one, allowing seven hits and the only run of the game. An uncharacteristically high strikeout number led to a high pitch count which forced Lowe out before the end of the 6th inning.
The bullpen took over from there and only allowed two hits over 3.1 innings pitched. Billy Wagner pitched the 9th inning, although it was not a save situation. The Braves pitching staff has really stepped up at a time when the team needed it most.
Derek Lowe is now 5-0 in the month of September with a 1.17 ERA, 1.08 WHIP. Oh, and a 29-3 K-BB ratio in 30.2 IP. Outstanding.
The Braves are gaining momentum despite a slow month and their magic number is now at three. This means that the Braves need to win their last three games and they will be in the playoffs no matter what. If the Braves win and the Padres lose, then the magic number will go down to one. It’s entirely possible that the Braves could clinch the Wild Card on Saturday.
It’s incredible the amount of adversity this team has had to overcome, yet they are still breathing. Grasping for air, clawing and fighting to make the playoffs. The never say die attitude is a strong characteristic of this ball club and they will prove to be a pesky opponent if they make the playoffs.
Atlanta definitely holds the advantage this weekend despite matching up against the Phillies. The Phillies will be resting their starters for the playoffs and will only face one of the Phillies’ three-headed monster in the rotation (Hamels).
Friday, Oct. 1: Brandon Beachy vs. Kyle Kendrick
Saturday, Oct. 2: Tommy Hanson vs. Cole Hamels
Sunday, Oct. 3: Tim Hudson vs. Vance Worley
The Padres will square off against the Giants and this is a huge series for both teams. Basically, if the Braves keep winning, then this series determines who wins the NL West and the loser will most likely miss the playoffs. That’s not a certainty, but the Giants are playing very well right now. Their pitching has been lights out. The Giants also hold the advantage of playing at home. The Padres won’t see Lincecum (unless there’s a one-game playoff on Monday), but with the way the Giants have been pitching that may not matter.
I’m not writing either series off. They still have to play the games, but the Braves are in a nice spot to make the playoffs for the first time since 2005. If they can take two out of three from the Phillies, they will carry momentum into the playoffs and that’s a very good thing to have this time of year.
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