The Braves 4-1 victory vs. Washington last night was the club's fourth consecutive win and it was also the fourth consecutive winning start for pitcher Javier Vazquez, who pitched a complete game three-hitter. Atlanta is still six games back of Philly and 3.5 games back of Colorado, but the Braves refuse to quit.
Colorado got a huge performance from Aaron Cook last night and the Rockies got a 2-1 walk-off win vs. St. Louis. Bobby Cox said of the Cardinals, "They need to beat those mountain boys up a little bit."
With just nine games left on the schedule, the Braves can ill afford to lose any of them. The club has won 12 of 14 overall, but even if Atlanta keeps up this pace there just aren't enough games left to catch Colorado unless the Braves get some help from St. Louis, Milwaukee, and LA.
Philly needs to win just four of its last nine games to clinch the N.L. East - which means that even if the Braves won out and closed the season with 13 straight wins, Philly would have to go 3-6 vs. Milwaukee, Houston, and Florida in order for the Braves to tie for the division lead.
That's just not going to happen.
Atlanta's only realistic chance is to catch Colorado and to do that we're still going to need a lot of help. Colorado has just eight games left, and if the Rockies go just 4-4 then the Braves need to finish 8-1 just to force a playoff for the Wild Card.
And while that's still a long shot, it's not impossible.
Today's pitching matchup once again favor the Braves: Tommy Hanson vs. Garrett Mock (3-9, 5.83 ERA). In Colorado, the Braves will be looking for help from Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright who will toe the rubber vs. Ubaldo Jimenez.
Trivia tidbit: Vazquez won his 15th game last night and lowered his earned run average to 2.83, which is currently sixth best in the league. Greg Maddux was the last Braves pitcher with at least 15 wins to post an earned run average that low (2002 - 16 wins, 2.62 ERA). Jair Jurrjens is scheduled to start Monday vs. Florida and he'll take the mound with 13 wins and a 2.70 earned run average that ranks fourth in the league. If Jurrjens beats the Fish, he'll get a shot at 15 wins next weekend and conceivably he could give the Braves two pitchers this season with Maddux-like numbers (Derek Lowe already has 15 wins, just not the Maddux-like ERA).