Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The Braves lost two out of three in Pittsburgh, but ended the season with an impressive shutout victory.
Already with a playoff spot secure, the Braves entered this final regular season series with the Pirates with a slim chance at winning the division. While they failed to accomplish that, they salvaged the final game of the series against the Pirates at PNC Park. Chipper Jones took his final hacks in Pittsburgh and recorded his final regular season hit the same way he earned his first: as a pinch-hitter. He also scored a run in his final game as he and the Braves prepare for the playoffs.
This was also the swan song for Ben Sheets. Having not pitched since August 24, he announced on Tuesday he would retire following his start on Wednesday. He only pitched one inning, but showed a glimpse of what made him such a dominating pitcher in his youth. He hit 96 on the radar gun and struck out two hitters in leaving everything he had out on the mound.
The Braves lost out on the division in Monday's 2-1 loss thanks in large part to Jeff Locke, an unknown lefty the Braves had never faced before. As we're well aware by now, unknown pitchers, especially lefties, often give the Braves fits. Add to that Atlanta's struggles on Mondays, and the end result isn't good.
Starling Marte was another Pirate who caused problems for the Braves. He had five hits and scored four runs; one of those hits was the decisive home run in the 2-1 game Monday.
Dan Uggla only played in Wednesday's win, going 1-3, and finishing the season six for his last 15. He hit .282 in his final 27 games, just in time for the playoffs. He finished 2012 with 19 home runs and 78 RBI, both career lows.
Martin Prado also finished the season strong, hitting .330 in September, but went hitless in his final three games. It was the only time all season he went that long without a hit.
Finally, Craig Kimbrel struck out three of the four hitters he faced in the season finale. He has now struck out 116 of the 231 batters he faced: that's 50.2% of all hitters that have faced Kimbrel who have struck out. That's a number that will certainly give more ammunition to the "Kimbrel for Cy Young" crowd.
Let's chop some Cardinals!!