Seven consecutive wins weren’t good enough to scare Ryan Howard and the Phillies into prolonging the Braves’ continuing status as a contender. The Braves finished last week with a series loss to the Phillies, leaving them 5.5 games out of a playoff spot with 13 to play.
Mathematical elimination could come as soon as this week, but it will likely wait until the weekend at the earliest. Believe it or not, but the Braves were still technically alive on September 26, 2007 after 158 games, so they’ll need a nice run over the next week and a half to last any longer. They do appear set for a winning season, needing only three wins to guarantee such a result.
Last Week’s Stats
Most of the regulars in the batting order had solid weeks. Garret Anderson was the biggest exception, and his wOBA has now fallen to .313, which would make 2009 his worst season since 1996, his first full season as an Angels regular. Nate McLouth and Yunel Escobar didn’t fare much better, especially considering the latter’s recent trip into Bobby Cox’s doghouse. Adam LaRoche and Brian McCann had excellent weeks at the plate, as did Matt Diaz.
Javier Vazquez and Tommy Hanson had the best starts of the week, each pitching 7 shutout innings, although the latter laid an egg in his second start before the rains came on Sunday. Jurrjens and Hudson each pitched 7 innings in their starts as well, allowing one and three runs, respectively. Derek Lowe allowed 2 runs in 2 innings in his start.
The bullpen was up-and-down all week. Rafael Soriano and Vladimir Nunez provided the “down,” the former allowing 4 runs in preserving a 6-0 lead against the Phillies. Eric O’Flaherty was one of the brighter spots, giving up just one run over 5 innings in 4 appearances.
The Road Ahead
The Mets and Nationals will host the Braves for three games apiece this week. I suppose there’s still technically a chance that they’ll stay in contention if the Rockies completely implode, but I’m not betting on it.