So despite all of our wants and desires for a sweep this series, it's technically still not impossible. Unfortunately, it only comes true if the worst team in Major League Baseball finishes the job tomorrow against Derek Lowe, and the Pirates sweep us.
And despite a gallant effort by the Florida Marlins, they just fell to the Phillies. So that means we are now no longer in first place in the NL East, and are 0.5 games behind. And are now reduced to also looking at the Wild Card, as well as concerning ourselves with what the San Francisco Giants are going to be doing from here on out.
There's really not a whole lot to talk about in this game. It was the same old story as the Braves offense went stagnant again, and made another pitcher look like the second coming of Nolan Ryan. It was the same old story as our starting pitching once again delivered a solid performance until the wheels fell off in the 7th inning, and Tim Hudson, whom I pointed out normally owned PNC Park, will unfortunately be the one seen as getting owned, by of all teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Braves had a golden opportunity in the top of the 6th inning to break the game open, when with only one out, Martin Prado had doubled, advancing Jason Heyward from first to third. A strong throw from (who else) Ryan Doumit to the cutoff man was the only thing keeping Heyward from going home. The Pirates had a brief meeting, and it was painfully obvious what they had in mind, as they intentionally walked Brian McCann to load the bases with one out, in order to face Derrek Lee. James McDonald challenged him with fastballs, and quickly got him to two strikes, before taking a little off, and getting Lee to ground into the dreaded 5-4-3 Jose Vidro inning-ending special.
Baseball, as we're all aware is amongst the harshest of mistresses. This is one of those cases where looking back to the box scores, most certainly would not tell the whole story. Tim Hudson was perfect through the first four innings, and had only allowed three harmless hits going into the 7th inning. But it was in the 7th where it all fell apart where consecutive doubles, an intentional walk, and then a demoralizing triple made it 3-0 Pirates, before Huddy was pulled, Peter Moylan got one out, but then the usually effective Eric O'Flaherty was tagged for the back-breaking 2-run homer courtesy of the pinch-hitting Delwyn Young. So despite pitching masterfully into the 7th inning, Huddy's end line looks like 6.1IP, 4ER on 6H, with 4K and only 1BB.
The Bobby Cox Compliment Sandwich: Jason Heyward had an acceptable night, going 2-4. Derrek Lee is not the answer Rick Ankiel is not the answer these offensive woes are pathetically embarrassing. Aaaand, I seriously can't think of another positive aspect about tonight's game to close this sandwich and I'm an optimist, so here, have a tostada.
I don't really know what else to say. It's evident that Derrek Lee just cannot cut it, and Rick Ankiel's whiffs could probably make Andruw Jones or Jeff Francoeur feel a little better about themselves. So close to the end of the road, it's hard to really say what can be done about it, other than some lineup reconstruction, but that's always seen as a move of panic, and we all know Bobby Cox won't let that happen.
This is just off the top of my head, but I'd want to move Martin Prado back to the leadoff spot, for starters; he even said it himself on the radio once, that he would rather set the table than clean the dishes. If Lee were even a shadow of his Cubs days, he'd make a great #3 hitter like he used to, and Infante could be put in the 6-7 spot, simply to get some competent production out of the bottom of the order whenever David Ross isn't playing. But this is also why I don't rosterbate with everyone else, in public.
But anyway. There's likely nothing I can write or say that'll cheer most of you guys up at this point, but I leave you with this attempt to kindle a glimmer of hope before you likely go back to your regularly scheduled agony: In 2007, when the Phillies caught and passed the Mets, there was zero time to recover and try and take the crown back. In 2008, when the Phillies caught and passed the Mets, there was plenty of time for the Mets to try and reclaim, but they didn't, because they were the Mets. The Atlanta Braves are not the New York Mets. In 2009, the Braves simply started their mad dash, just a few days too late; but still managed to put the fear of Pujols into the Rockies before being snuffed out by mathematics. All I'm saying is that yes, it most certainly does suck to lose this game, lose first place, and run a greater risk of another post-season-less October. But there is still more than adequate time, and we're still in a very adequate position to change things before October 3rd. But it's nothing that we can control, other than well wishes for the boys we root for; remember - A Braves salvage tomorrow, and a Marlins win turns it right back around, and suddenly the Bipolar-coaster has just gotten a little more interesting.
Derek Lowe vs. Zach Duke, tomorrow night. And if you must know, Andrew Miller vs. Cole Hamels. And what the hell, Barry Zito vs. Dan Hudson.