Sep 4, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) chases the loose baseball around Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) during the ninth inning at Miller Park. The Cardinals won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Morning Chop for FRI 9/5

Braves Now In Wild Card Position

Thanks mostly to continued ineptitude on the parts of both the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Braves are now – as of this writing – in the playoffs.

Even better news?  The Braves don’t own many of the head-to-head tie-breakers that might be involved, but they do hold that advantage over both the Pirates and Brewers… at least for now.  The margin over the Pirates is a scant 2-games-to-1, and thus the 4-game series near the end of the season could end up making all the difference.

But for now – Atlanta is back in… and they got they by backing in.  Now the challenge will be to keep that position.  They are 3 games behind San Francisco, who would host the Wild Card game if it were held today, and 7 back of the Nationals for the division lead.

Next up:  the Marlins… then the Nats.

 

Miami Marlins news: Marlins yet to name starter for Sunday’s finale with Braves

SCOTT GELMAN / FISHSTRIPES.COM

The Miami Marlins have yet to name a starter for Sunday afternoon’s series finale with the Atlanta Braves. Henderson Alvarez‘s return is questionable, and Brad Penny struggled on Tuesday night.

 

Henderson Alvarez didn’t expect to be the Marlins’ ace starting in June. He was slotted into the third spot in the rotation behind Jose Fernandez and Nathan Eovaldi, and became Miami’s most consistent starting pitcher since Fernandez went down.
The Marlins are unsure if Alvarez will make another start this season, leaving the Marlins with questions about the rotation with just a month left in the season. Miami is still confident it can make a run at a Wild Card spot, but without a healthy Alvarez, that may be an unrealistic goal.

Since Fernandez made his last appearance on May 9, the Marlins have used six starters that didn’t open the season in the rotation (Anthony DeSclafaniAndrew HeaneyBrad HandBrad Pennyand Brian Flynn). Jarred Cosart, who the Marlins acquired from the Astros on July 31, essentially took Jacob Turner’s spot, so we won’t count him.

The aforementioned six have made 27 starts and are a combined 5-15 with a 5.72 ERA. The Marlins in those games are 10-17. Making that record all the more disappointing is that the upper level starting pitching depth was among the Marlins’ purported organizational strengths.

Aug 16, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez (37) reacts on the pitcher's mound after being hit in the hand. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 16, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez (37) reacts on the pitcher’s mound after being hit in the hand. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami was thought to have one of the best minor league systems in terms of starting pitching, however even without Fernandez, the young arms that were heralded prospects have had difficulty becoming solid major league starters.

DeSclafani has struggled in his few major league starts, posting a 7.57 ERA and 4.15 FIP in 27.1 innings. He was not expected to be an Andrew Heaney-type prospect, but he was thought to be a back of the rotation arm and has had difficulty finding the strike zone after seeing time in Triple-A and with the Marlins.

 

 

[Danville] Braves push series to third and final game with 6-1 victory

MATTHEW JOHNSON / DANVILLE BRAVES

[Editor's note:  we need to start paying attention to Ozhaino "Ozzy" Albies.]

DANVILLE, VA – The Danville Braves have pushed the Appalachian League Championship Series to a third and final game set for Friday night. Danville avenged a 2-1 loss on Wednesday night with a big, 6-1 elimination game victory tonight in Johnson City over the Cardinals.

A pair of home runs provided by first baseman Mike Dodig and designated hitter Tanner Krietemeier paved the way for the D-Braves big victory. Krietemeier’s two run blast in the fifth inning capped off a four-run frame for Danville, after Ozzy Albies and Jordan Edgerton drove in two runs to make it 3-1. Krietemeier stepped to the plate after Edgerton’s RBI double, and sent a moon shot over the right field wall to make it 5-1. Krietemeier’s home run was his lone hit of the ball game, while Edgerton pieced together two RBI on a 1-4 night with a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Mike Dodig stepped up in a big spot for the D-Braves at the plate. Dodig had seen his numbers start to dip towards the end of the regular season, and saw his playing time grow more and more scarce. Tonight however, Dodig contributed three hits, going 3-4 with a solo home run in the eighth inning.

Ozzy Albies also helped jumpstart an offense that had only one hit in game one. Albies, Danville’s leadoff man, went 2-4 on the night with two runs scored, a RBI, and a walk. Albies has continued to be a big problem at the plate for opposing teams in the postseason after a great regular season in Danville, as Albies is now hitting an even .400 in four playoff games.

 

‘Cats Eliminated With 4-3 Loss at Potomac

Jose Martinez hit a solo home run to jump start the offense in the sixth inning, and the Hillcats scored two more in the seventh to pull within one, but Lynchburg couldn’t get over the hump against Potomac and lost 4-3 at Pfitzner Stadium Thursday night.

With the victory, Potomac bounced the Hillcats from the playoffs for the second straight season and advanced to the Mills Cup Championship Series. The Nationals never trailed in either game of the NDCS and led throughout Game 2 after Issac Ballou hit a leadoff home run in the first inning.

Potomac added two more in the fourth with back-to-back sacrifice flies by Pedro Severino and Ballou. Randolph Oduber began the stanza with a single, and Khayyan Norfork knocked him over to third with a double. Brandon Miller walked to load the bases and set up the opportunity for Severino and Ballou to pick up consecutive RBIs and give the Nationals a 3-0 advantage.

Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, Martinez belted a solo home run off the video board in left field for his fifth home run with the Hillcats in 2014. In the bottom of that same inning, Ballou walked and scored on a Tony Renda double to regain the three-run margin for Potomac, 4-1.

Lynchburg threatened in the seventh by plating two. Will Skinner walked, and Johan Camargo singled to put two baserunners on. Yenier Bello‘s RBI single cut it to a two-run deficit, and Blake Brown had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to make it 4-3.

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