(Pinch hitting for smitty again today; smitty, I’m still praying for you and your wife. I hope she is improving. Update us when you get the chance.)
The Braves decided that limiting their winning to Wednesdays only for a whole month was probably a bad idea, so they finished the season with their first winning streak of September (yes, two games is officially a streak). One positive of having a losing season is that you have a 50% chance to win your last game while playoff teams only have a 10% chance. The Braves took advantage of those chances and squeaked out a last-game win for the first time since 2006 (and before that 1995) to finish the season 79-83, tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East. What a weak division.
The Nationals finished the season with a no-hitter, 30 games over .500. No one else could crack 80 wins, and three teams (ATL, MIA, and PHI) finished the out the season going 3-7 over their last ten games. In comparison, the NL West had two teams with 80+ wins, and every other division had three teams. NL Least, indeed.
Alex Wood was scheduled to start this game, but he was scratched with a sore shoulder (please, please, please, please let that be nothing serious), and the bullpen combined to throw a gem that highlighted just how good the Braves pitching has been all season. Too bad their offense did not contribute at all, or else this team could have been special.
The Braves posted two on the board in the first inning off of Cole Hamels, before being no-hit for the rest of the day because this is, after all, still the 2014 season. Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a home run, and Freddie Freeman picked up an RBI single to plate the Braves last run before Hamels ever recorded an out. That first out had such a demoralizing effect on the offense that they rolled over and played dead for the remaining 26, and left it up to the pitchers to decide whether or not the team headed into the offseason on a victorious note.
James Russell pitched four innings of two-hit ball and Luis Avilan relieved him, throwing two innings and picking up the win. David Carpenter encountered some trouble in the 8th inning, but a run-scoring double play was the inning’s only damage and Craig Kimbrel did Craig Kimbrel things in the 9th to get the offense off the hook. The relievers combined to strike 10 Phillies out, which is impressive until you think about how many of their own teammates they could have struck out had they been facing the Braves offense.
The Braves posted their 2014 recap video with a “thank you to our fans theme”, but it only served to pour salt into the wound this season created. All the highlights the video contained were from April-June, which serves as a grim reminder that Braves baseball has not been enjoyable to watch since the All-Star Break. It was strange to see this team jumping around with joy in some of those highlights; it had been so long since that had happened that I had forgotten celebrations were once a reality. I did notice that no Dan Uggla highlights made the cut. He played four games for San Francisco; does this mean he will be the only member of the 2014 Atlanta Braves to get a playoff share?
The offseason has now officially officially started, and I cannot wait until spring. Braves baseball has been over for a little over four hours and I already miss it, putrid as it was. May the 2015 season come quickly, and may it contain more victories, fewer Chip Caray-isms, and an epic Nationals collapse.
Natspo(s) delenda est in the Division Series. Go Pirates.