|Jaime Garcia, back when he played for the Cards.|
The Atlanta Braves let a big opportunity slip away from them during the past week.
On Monday of last week, the Braves were running a strong second in their division, 12 games behind the NL East-leading Washington Nationals and making a good run for a Wildcard playoff spot. With a pair of series against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies ahead of them, the Braves looked poised to stuff a few more wins in the bag and improve their playoff hopes.
Then reality set in.
The Braves went 1-2 against the D-backs and had lost three games of a four-game series against the Phillies as of Monday. (The final game of that series was set to be played on Monday afternoon.)
Atlanta’s lone win against the Diamondbacks snapped a three-game losing streak, and as of Monday, Atlanta was on a four-game losing skid. When the dust settled after Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, Atlanta found itself tied for third place in their division with the Mets and 14 games out of first place. The Marlins were in second place, and the Nationals still held a comfortable first-place lead.
Ironically, the Phillies, who were on the verge of sweeping Atlanta on Monday, were in last place in the division, 23-1/2 games behind the Nationals. In other words, the Phillies are pretty bad, which is why Atlanta should be sweeping them instead of the other way around.
However, all hope is not lost. Atlanta still has more than 50 games left on their schedule, and they were scheduled to begin the August portion of their schedule Tuesday with the first game of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Atlanta. After that, they’ll play a three-game series against the Marlins in Atlanta, which will run today (Thursday) through Sunday. This presents the Braves with another opportunity to gain ground in the division standings.
Also during the past week, the Braves got rid of left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia, setting into motion a somewhat unusual set of events that shows just how crazy things can get for individual athletes in professional sports today.
Garcia pitched for Atlanta in a 12-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 21 at Dodger Stadium, and then was traded to the Minnesota Twins three days later. In his first (and only) start for the Twins on Friday, Garcia got the pitching win in a 6-3 victory over the Athletics in Oakland.
Two days later, on Sunday, Garcia was dealt to the New York Yankees, where he is set to debut against the Indians today (Thursday) in Cleveland.
The trade deadline was set to expire on Monday, and up to that point the Braves had made no major moves. You’d think that if the team’s management thought that the playoffs were out of the picture, they might try to sell off a few players. With that said, it looks like they either still think they can make the playoffs or they look to make a strong run next season and don’t want to lose the foundation they’ve built.
Of course, much can (and will) change in a short amount of time, especially when you consider that there are still over eight weeks left in the season. Until they are absolutely, mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, my hopes are still high that they will at least earn a playoff berth this year.