News and notes from the playoff chase:
- Philadelphia ended Atlanta's season in heartbreaking fashion: first, the Phillies rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the ninth inning, tying the game on Chase Utley's one-out sac fly off a criminally-abused Craig Kimbrel, whose tank hit "E" about two weeks ago. Then, after the teams traded scoreless innings for the next three frames, Hunter Pence duckfarted a single in the top of the 13th to plate the go-ahead run in an eventual 4-3 Phillies victory.
- The Braves defeat meant that St. Louis, which was 8.5 games out of the Wild Card spot on September 5, claimed the last playoff slot with an 8-0 drubbing of the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
- Let's add a couple bullet points on Atlanta's collapse: manager Fredi Gonzalez was oddly serene after the Braves' bed-soiling, saying that the team had a good year and congratulating the Cardinals on their epic comeback. (In fairness: Fredi may have just been in shock and muttering mindless platitudes. I didn't hear the audio.)
- On September 24, a day after the Braves had defeated the Nationals and the Cards had lost to the Cubs, Atlanta held a three-game lead in the standings with five to play. The Braves didn't win another game.
- Oh, and not that it mattered: Arizona almost staged another improbable rally, plating five runs in the ninth inning (with ANOTHER grand slam and a solo homer), but lost to the Dodgers, 7-5. The result was irrelevant, though, because Milwaukee's win earlier in the evening clinched home field advantage for the Crew in the NLDS.
The Wild Card race looked like this at the end:
|W||L||GB||Last 10||Streak||Wild Card E #
And here are your 2011 NL playoff participants:
|(1) Phillies (East)||102
|(2) Brewers (Central)||96||66||6.0||7-3||W2|
|(3) D-backs (West)
|(4) Cardinals (Wild Card)||90
On tap for the weekend -- and I apologize for the lack of start times, but apparently MLB is really fryin' the noodle on this one:
- Saturday, October 1, Sometime: Philadelphia (Halladay: 19-6, 2.35) vs. St. Louis (TBA)
- Saturday, October 1, Some Other Time: Milwaukee (Gallardo: 17-10, 3.52) vs. Arizona (Ian Kennedy: 21-4, 2.88)