Atlanta Braves: there’s a championship in the balance this weekend
There is one playoff series already in progress involving the Atlanta Braves… or should we say “future” Atlanta Braves?
It’s probably a good thing that the Atlanta Braves are in the National League this year, and not just because of the more traditional rules that the league employs.
It’s because of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Not only are the Rays dominating the AL East this year; their affiliates in the minor leagues have been running roughshod over nearly all of their competition… and usually includes the Braves’ affiliates.
Let me explain:
- LOW-A East (the old Sally League in part). The Charleston Riverdogs (Rays) went 82-38 to destroy the South Division… 28 games ahead of the 3rd place Augusta Green Jackets (Braves).
- HIGH-A East (the old Carolina League in part): in this league’s South division, Bowling Green (Rays) won by 9 full games, going 82-36 on the year. The Rome Braves were left in the dust at 56-60 and 4th place.
- TRIPLE-A East (the old International League): this league is now doing something… weird… called the ‘Final Stretch’, but in the regular season, the Durham Bulls (Rays) went 77-43 to dominate the league. Our Gwinnett Stripers did well at 68-51, but that was a half-game out of second place and 8.5 behind Durham.
So it’s perhaps noteworthy that in Double-A competition, the Mississippi Braves won their regular season… handily, in fact. At 67-44, they were the class of the entire league.
So now Mississippi is in the playoffs… against the Montgomery Biscuits. They managed to eke out the second seed by a half game over the Birmingham Barons.
Oh… and Montgomery is yet another Tampa Bay minor league affiliate.
The M-Braves have just completed the first 2 games of their best-of-5 series to determine the Double-A South league champions. Those games both took place in Montgomery and each club has a victory.
Mississippi now gets to go home and defend their own turf for the remainder of the series.
At Trustmark Park in Pearl, the Braves are 33-22 on the year. The Biscuits are 27-32 on the road. Moreover, Mississippi is a robust 45-26 against clubs with a record above .500 and Montgomery is 34-42 when facing winning clubs.
The Braves are 60-34 in night games and 19-14 in close games (1 run decisions). Montgomery again comes up short in those situations.
So all stats point in the favor of the Braves taking 2 of these last 3 games… now they just have to execute as they’ve been doing all year… and hopefully put down these pesky Rays in at least one league.
The series resumes tonight with Spencer Strider starting for the Braves at 7:35 EDT. Slugging catcher Shea Langeliers (4th in league in OPS; 3rd in homers) leads this potent offense.
SATURDAY MORNING UPDATE: Mississippi scored 6 in the bottom of the 8th and then held on for dear life at Montgomery scored 5 in the 9th… Braves win 11-9, taking a 2-1 series lead.
We’ll see how it goes from here.