I know I’m a little late on this, but Freddie Freeman has now been involved in the lowest and highest moments of the past two seasons. After hitting the season-ending 3-6-3 double play in Game 162 last year, he hit a walkoff two-run home run in Game 154 this year to assure the Braves a spot in the dreaded play-in game. As we’ve discussed before, this only guarantees one game, where anything can happen.
The Braves won Kris Medlen‘s 22nd straight start, tying a Major League record, though Medlen did not factor into the decision. He did, however, turn Donovan Solano into a feared power hitter, or something like that. After not hitting a homer his first 280 MLB PAs and only hitting 10 in over 2700 minor league PAs, Solano hit TWO homers off Medlen, accounting for all three runs. Over his seven innings, Medlen was still sharp, walking none, striking out eight, and getting nearly 65% groundballs.
September 25, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Freeman was the hero with the homer off our old friend Mike Dunn, and was also involved in the rally for the Braves first run in the second inning. After a Chipper Jones walk and Freeman single, Dan Uggla singled in Chipper to score their first run. In the sixth, Chipper followed Jason Heyward‘s triple with a sacrifice fly. Nathan Eovaldi threw well again versus the Braves, walking two and K’ing eight in six innings.
The Braves are still four games behind the Nationals with eight to play, which makes a division title very unlikely. However, if the two teams end up tied, starting this year, there is a tiebreaker game Thursday October 4. The winner gets the division title and the “bye,” while the loser has to play the play-in game the next day. This Thursday game does not have the win-or-go-home stakes of the Friday game, but how much importance should be put in it?
Medlen is now set up to be on four days rest on Friday, so he is not available for a chance to skip the play-in game. If it looks like a Thursday game is possible, do you set up the rotation to have Hudson or Minor throw that possible game, risking an extended rest for that pitcher? Whoever throws Thursday is not available to start Game 1 or 2 of the divisional series, so if the Thursday loser wins Friday, that team’s #1 and #2 pitcher are not starting at home. I have twisted my own mind in many directions this past paragraph, so I’m sure you are just as convoluted.