The Atlanta Braves put last September’s late-season fade in the past on Tuesday night as Freddie Freeman launched a walk-off homerun into the stands to beat the Marlins, but more importantly, to clinch a NL playoff berth. The Braves have a lock on at least a Wild Card spot and still have a mathematical shot at the NL East crown, as they are four games back of the Washington Nationals. Atlanta also notably won behind a Kris Medlen start for the 22nd consecutive time this season.
Chipper Jones has been to many postseasons with the Braves, but with this being his last season with the team in which he has spent a career, this one may be the most special yet.
“They took the attitude last year to try and hang on,” Jones said in an ESPN.com article. “This year we took the bull by the horns. We’re shooting for the stars. We’re shooting for the division until they close us out.”
Atlanta entered the ninth inning trailing 3-2, but Jones immediately got the home crowd amped with a leadoff double. He then scored on Freeman’s game-winning homer that easily sailed over the centerfield fence.
Although starting pitcher Kris Medlen didn’t record the win, he may be the Braves good luck charm, as the Bravos extended their win streak in games started by Medlen to 22. It’s the longest such streak since the Yankees won 22 in a row in starts by Whitey Ford in 1950 and 1953.
Atlanta is the fourth NL team to secure a playoff spot, with the other three being San Francisco, Washington and Cincinnati. The only spot remaining is for the second Wild Card and St. Louis is currently in control at four and a half games over the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals picked up another game in the race today with a win against Houston.
Now that we know Atlanta is in and we see who they will be up against in the NL playoffs, what are their chances to go all the way? The Braves World Series future odds were 14/1 on September 14th according to Bovada, but after winning eight of their last ten, the Braves have most likely increased those odds slightly. The obvious favorites in the NL are still the Reds and the Nats, but don’t count out an experienced team like Atlanta with veterans that know how to perform in big games and on the big stage.