Today’s AJC featured a column by yours truly involving a bit of research (also by yours truly): If the Atlanta Braves indeed lose 100 games — they’d have to go 7-17 for that to happen — they will become the first 100-game loser in baseball history ever to have been at .500 so late in a season. I don’t know about you, but I find that fascinating.
(A tip of Fredi Gonzalez’s often-tipped cap to reader Jimmy Smith for sparking my interest in the matter.)
A caveat: I’m not sure they’re going to make it to 100. They have six games remaining against the Phillies, who are stinking again after a slight uptick. They have three with Miami. But they also play Toronto, Washington, St. Louis and the Mets, and all of those teams are above .500, and the Braves have won one game against a team holding a winning record since July 26. (It’s now Sept. 8.) And the one was a bloomin’ wonder.
On Aug. 3, the Braves trailed San Francisco, which has won three of the past five World Series, 6-0 after 5 1/2 innings. They tied it on A.J. Pierzynski’s homer with two out in the ninth off Santiago Casilla. They won 9-8 in the 11th on Adonis Garcia’s homer against Ryan Vogelsong.
The Cardinals will surely be resting regulars when they arrive at Turner Field for the final three games of the regular season, but the Redbirds’ B team is probably better than the Braves’ first string. (Until Monday night, the Braves had lost 12 in a row and 19 of 20.) And we recall what happened when last a team with no reason to win came here for a season-closing series with dubious history on the line.
In 2011, the Phillies had clinched the National League East. The Braves were trying not to become the first team in baseball annals to miss the playoffs after leading by 8 1/2 games in September. The Phillies swept the series, the final game lasting 13 excruciating innings. The Braves missed the playoffs. Twenty minutes later, the Red Sox lost in Baltimore to become the first team in baseball history to miss the playoffs after leading by nine games in September.
Come to think of it, Fredi Gonzalez managed that Braves team, too.