BY KEVIN MCALPIN
680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – Over the course of a baseball season, there’s going to be days you get to the ballpark and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be your day. For the Braves, through two innings last night, it was looking like Thursday was going to be that day. Following a 29 run outburst on Wednesday night, the club had a late night of traveling from Atlanta to Washington DC, getting into their rooms at their hotel, a few miles from Nationals Park, around 5 o’clock in the morning. And for three innings last night, it certainly felt like the last 24 hours had really caught up to the traveling party. But, as we’ve seen in years past, this team refuses to quit or take a game off. They chipped away with two in the fourth, fifth and seventh to tie the game at 6-6, only to go on and win it on Dansby Swanson’s solo shot in the eighth. For Swanson, it marked his third homer this season in the seventh inning or later, a third of the game where he’s now hitting north of .400 in those scenarios. But, last night could ultimately end up being a big swing in the standings as the team earned its 13th come-from-behind win of the year, and by virtue of a Phillies bullpen meltdown, now finds themselves with a three game cushion in the NL East standings with 16 games left to play.
Last night’s win was the second in 43 games this season in which they won after facing a deficit of at least five runs. The Braves are the only team with more than one such win as the other 29 teams in the Majors have combined for a grand total of six wins, when trailing by five or more. All told, teams are 8-256 this season when facing a deficit by five or more, with one-quarter of those wins belonging to the first place Braves. For the season, the Braves offense has now plated 262 runs, two off the Major League lead held by the Padres, in two more games. Obviously, a big part of the offense has been the home run ball, as the club hit four more last night, bringing their total to 31 in the month of September alone. That’s the most in the Majors, 11 ahead of the Mets. Infact, those 31 homers this month are more than the combined total of the five worst teams combined!
While you don’t want to have to rely on homers to win games, it’s clear that with the state of starting pitching around these parts these days, the Braves will need to continue to lean on an offense that has been electric all season long. Tonight, Josh Tomlin looks to build on a tremendous outing against Washington his last go-round, a start that saw him give up just one earned over six innings worth of work as the Braves look to keep the pressure on the rest of the division.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet