Freddie Freeman homered and Freddy Garcia pitched well in long relief, but the Braves were lethargic all game. With two outs in the third inning, miscommunication between BJ Upton and Evan Gattis allowed a routine fly ball off the bat of opposing pitcher, Dylan Gee, to drop in and a run to score.
The Braves have the best record in baseball, but they did not play like the best team in the bigs today – and that’s because they’re not.
They have the biggest division lead of any team in the game, but they play in the worst division. At times, they’ve been the only team in the NL East above .500 and they’re currently the only one with a positive run differential.
True, they do have some great players. Freeman is having a huge year, as is Chris Johnson, and Brian McCann is one of the best catchers in the game. Still, Jason Heyward is on the DL, Tim Hudson is probably done for the season, and Dan Uggla and BJ Upton have been hitting under the Mendoza line all year.
Of the 14 consecutive wins the Braves had from late July into early August, 10 were against the Colorado Rockies, Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals – none will be playing in October, and only Washington has a chance of finishing above .500.
The Dodgers have been re-energized by Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. They have a one-two punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and they are only going to get better when Matt Kemp comes back from injury. Their stretch of 42 wins in 50 games puts the Braves’ streak to shame. They’ve been steamrolling everybody – everybody except the Red Sox.
On August 25, Boston became the first team to win a series against the Dodgers since the Pittsburgh Pirates did it – last June. They added to their giant-slaying resume by beating Max Scherzer last night – only the second team to do so this season. They play in the toughest division in baseball yet they have a 5.5 game lead, and they just bolstered their starting pitching with the addition of Jake Peavy.
Atlanta’s loss to the Mets today is essentially meaningless in the playoff race, as the Braves have had the division wrapped up since Memorial Day, and their remaining schedule should allow them to coast into the postseason. But come October they won’t be facing anyone in the NL East. They’ll have to beat teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox if they want to be World Series champs.