Here we are with two games left in the baseball season and Atlanta Braves and the Red Sox have their respective cities in a heart attack. Each team entered September with a lead of at least 9 games in the Wild Card race. However, a horrible month of September for each team has the Braves and the Red Sox on the verge of missing out on the MLB Playoffs. Let’s examine both teams and their chances to make the playoffs then and now.
On September 6th, 2011 the Atlanta Braves enjoyed a 8 1/2 game Wild Card lead. Seeing that they would not be able to catch the Phillies, the Braves could at least rest easy knowing that they had clinched a playoff spot. Or at least they thought so. After a 9-16 September, all of a sudden, the Braves find themselves only a game ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals with two games to go. The Braves lost once again to the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2. Luckily for them, the Houston Astros were able to defeat the Cardinals in extra innings 5-4 to keep the Braves’ WC lead at 1.
The Braves play the Phillies again tomorrow with a chance to clinch. They will send veteran Derek Lowe to the mound who’s looking for his 10th win on the season. With a 9-16 record and a 4.92 ERA, Lowe hasn’t been good at all this year but has been a clutch performer in years past. A Braves win and a Cardinals loss gives the Braves the NL Wild Card and relieves them of what has been a nerve-wracking September.
The Boston Red Sox haven’t been as fotunate as the Braves as they find themselves currently tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card. After a 7-19 September, the Red Sox have seen their once comfortable 9 game lead evaporate into a tie atop the AL Wild Card Standings. The Rays are absolutely on fire and have climbed into a tie with the Red Sox and are now in the driver’s seat.
“We’re in the driver’s seat, in our opinion,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “It’s our job just to go out there and win.”
“Our fate’s in our hands,” Shields told the St. Petersburg Times. “We don’t have to worry about the Red Sox losing now. That feels really good. Especially how far we were back; I know at one point in August we were 11 1/2 games back. To be able to be tied with them is phenomenal.”
Should the Red Sox and Rays finish with the same record, a one-game playoff will ensue at Tropicana Field — home of the Rays. However, the Sox players maintain a “we control our own destiny” mindset as their focus shifts to just winning.
“We still control our destiny,” said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. “If we win two games and have to play a third, if we win, we’re in the playoffs. We all have to be confident. Other people can doubt us, but we have to be confident. We’re very confident we can accomplish that.”
The Rays play the Yankees in their last two games, and the Red Sox square off against the Orioles to the end the season. Depending on your perspective or team, these last two games can be either exciting or nerve-wracking — or both.