The only way that this would've been a more fitting end to the 2014 season for the Atlanta Braves was if they were the team getting shut out after getting all of their hits in the first inning. Instead, only the latter part of that first sentence was true: Yes, the Braves only got 3 hits on the day and they all came in the 1st inning, but the 2-run cushion was just enough for the bullpen to work with, as they shut down the Phillies offense and managed to ride those 2 runs to victory in the 162nd and final game of the season.
Again, the only offensive action for the Braves happened in the 1st inning, and they wasted no time. Any ideas of a repeat no-no performance by Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies was put to rest almost immediately thanks to a leadoff homer from Emilio Bonifacio. The offensive production didn't stop there, as Phil Gosselin ended up moseying his way into scoring position with a stolen base after getting on base with a walk. Freddie Freeman made no mistake in the next at-bat, as he sent the 3rd pitch he saw up the middle and into center field for a RBI single. That made it 2-0 Braves, and that was effectively the end of the offense for Atlanta for the day and for the 2014 season.
From that point on, Cole Hamels retired 20 straight Braves. Yes, you read that right: Twenty. The Braves didn't reach base again until the 7th inning, and that was only because Hamels plunked Joey Terdoslavich to put him on base and end his own streak. Terdoslavich ended up being the final baserunner for the Braves. Again, if this is how the Braves offense was going to go out, then it was a fitting ending: 3 hits, they all came in 1 inning, and they barely scraped together 2 runs.
If it was a fitting ending for the offense, then it was also a fitting ending for the pitching staff, who clearly deserved better than the anemic hitting that they got as support. While Cole Hamels was excellent for the Phillies (8 IP, 7 Ks, and the Terdoslavich incident was his only BB), the Braves bulllpen came up big with one of their best performances of the season. James Russell started things off, and he made it through 4 scoreless innings and only gave up 2 hits and a walk in the process. He passed the baton to Luis Avilan in the 5th inning, and Avilan got through the 5th with no problem and weaseled his way out of a sticky situation in the 6th. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Avilan had to face off against noted Braves killer Ryan Howard. However, the Subway sandwich pitchman was unable to take a bite out of the Braves lead, as Avilan struck him out to preserve the 2-run lead.
After Anthony Varvaro guided the Braves through the 7th inning with no issue, it was David Carpenter's turn to see if he could keep the lead before passing the bullpen baton to the anchor man of the bullpen: Craig Kimbrel. The first two batters that Carpenter faced both reached with singles. The next batter was Ben Revere, and just like Christian Bethancourt managed to deliver a productive double play last night, Revere did the same. His GIDP brought Freddy Galvis home for Philly's 1st run of the game. After walking Carlos Ruiz, David Carpenter now had to get past Chase Utley. After a quick battle, Utley hit a pop fly to left-center. Emilio Bonifacio made the catch, but he also had to deal with Ryan Doumit barreling down on him as well. The two collided, but both men stayed on their feet and Bonifacio kept the ball to end the inning. It was a scary inning, but it the Braves eventually made it through with the lead still intact.
With the baton now in Craig Kimbrel's hands, it was time for what was hopefully the final inning of the 2014 season. Ryan Howard hit a bloop single to lead off the inning as one final-yet-feeble attempt to troll the Braves. After that, Kimbrel proceeded to strike out the side to end the game and end the season.
So that's it: The Braves finish at 79-83, tied with the Mets for 2nd place in the division, and it was a distant 2nd behind the Washington Nationals, who entered the postseason with a flourish. The only Postseason action that will be occurring with the Braves will be the search for a new General Manager (at the very least), and the Hot Stove season that will come in the winter. But for now, let's all enjoy the win and the relief that comes with a failed season coming to a close. I think that this tweet that the official Braves twitter account favorited sums up how we all feel about this season finally and mercifully coming to a close.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>lol <a href="http://t.co/kaV18ghxUg">pic.twitter.com/kaV18ghxUg</a></p>— Ian (@IanMM_) <a href="https://twitter.com/IanMM_/status/516343221212155905">September 28, 2014</a></blockquote>