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The Braves, winners of ten straight, have opened up a 12.5 game lead in the NL East

Aug 5, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

Braves youngster Alex Wood gave up one run over six innings in his start on Sunday night against the Phillies — a start in which Delmon Young struck out four times, seeing a total of 15 pitches — to help the Braves to another win. It was their tenth in a row. Meanwhile, the Phillies have gone 1-9 in that stretch. The Nationals have gone a more respectable 6-4. But everyone, obviously, has lost ground and the Braves now sit atop the NL East with a staggering 12.5 game lead.

The winning streak is impressive for a few reasons. First it began as the Braves lost Tim Hudson for the season, making many wonder if they’d have the starting pitching to maintain their division lead. Well, during the winning streak they’ve allowed more than four runs only once and three runs or fewer in seven of those games. Both the starters and the bullpen have been pretty fantastic.

Also impressive: the offensive contributions have come from a number of players. Chris Johnson is on fire, hitting nearly .350. Justin Upton and Jason Heyward are heating up after extended periods of “meh” since April. Even B.J. Upton has gotten into the act. The Braves have had various players carrying them on offense at times this season while most other bats have flailed (Justin Upton in April, Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman at times since then) but now they are finally seeing something more akin to a balanced attack.

Finally, it’s been interesting to see the streak go down against decent competition: the Braves have swept the Cardinals and a decent Rockies team and now they’ve dispatched a would-be division rival in the Phillies. Beginning today they play three against the Nats. While a 12.5 game lead is huge — ESPN has the Braves at a 99.9% probability of making the playoffs – a sweep of the Nats this week would basically break their opposition’s back.

Of course this is the Braves, a team which choked away a big division lead just two years ago. It just wasn’t this big, and for that to happen now would require something in baseball the likes of which is rarely if ever seen.

  1. bravojawja - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    And yet I wonder if they’re peaking too soon. Ten-game win streaks in April and August are nice and all, but playing .500 ball the rest of the season makes me wonder if they’ll play .500 ball in October.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      It shouldn’t. There’s no real correlation between how a team plays going into the playoffs and how they play in the playoffs. Obviously if injuries lead to a fall off that’s a different thing, but how a team’s played over the previous couple weeks doesn’t really say anything about how they’ll play over the next couple weeks.

    • chc4 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      Brilliant point. Maybe they should start playing like crap on purpose.

      Where do people come up with this nonsense?

      • bravojawja - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:01 AM

        Yes, because I think they play .500 ball on purpose.

        It sure seems like teams streaking in September perform better in October than teams that had their streaks back in early August. The Cardinals come to mind.

    • hollywooddawg - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      This is what happened to them last season. They peeked in August, and from mid-August to playoff time, they struggled down the stretch. This streak concerns me as well. Now the opposite thought in 1993 when they took off in the 2nd half and made it to the playoffs against the Phillies.

      • nsauser - Aug 5, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        And Fredi went to sleep right before the playoffs. We’ll see how he performs this year.

  2. jdv22 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Thank god they stood pat at the deadline.

    • jdv22 - Aug 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      Thank god the phillies stood pat at the deadline*

      (sorry, my computer sucks sometimes)

      • commonsenseisnotcmonman - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        If RAJ thought this lineup was going to be a winner in the off-season, I have no reason to not think he thinks staying pat was the right move.

        /facepalm

      • heyblueyoustink - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        Eh, they were in the picture until they lost their ineffective lead off hitter, ineffective hurt clean up hitter, and ineffective replacement clean up hitter.

        Oh thee well. I’ve seen worse. Like Robert Person starting on opening day. And Mike Lieberthal as our best player.

  3. spacemaker101 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    I’m so tired of ppl saying braves aren’t build for the playoffs… It’s ridiculous.. The argument I hear the most is well the braves won’t be able to string together 4 back to back hits and produce runs.. (Even though we just swept the cardinals and beat Cliff lee last night.) But anyways what ace in the playoff gives up 4 hits in a row… We just gonna keep taking pitchers yard and silence all the haters.

  4. paperlions - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    The NL is on the verge of having only 5 teams with records above .500…and those 5 teams are the only ones with positive run differentials.

  5. spacemaker101 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:03 AM

    Kevin s. so you’re saying momentum means nothing in baseball.. .. Lol. You obviously just watch the sport and have never played …good try.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      I bet he can break out stats that show it’s meaningless, when all you have is anecdotes. Guess which holds up under scrutiny more often?

      • Kevin S. - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:41 AM

        Meh, I got lazy and went with anecdotes, too. But the stats are there.

    • Kevin S. - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Explain the 2000 Yankees, genius.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:35 AM

        Steroids.

    • chc4 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:31 AM

      Correct, momentum means nothing. Momentum is what lazy announcers and beat writers cite when they have nothing real to talk about or no real evidence to support their case. It’s like saying Darwin Barney is a better player than he really is b/c of his “intangibles”.

      Any team that goes into the postseason winning 9 of 10 against the Brewers and Marlins is no more likely to win than one that loses 7 of 10.

  6. kane337 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    I hope you make the same comment about the Red Sox collapse 2 years ago. Fair right?

  7. spacemaker101 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    Chc4 just stop hahahha.. Yes intangibles and momentum do make a team play better…

    • chc4 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Baseball Prospectus did a historical analysis of momentum heading into postseason and found absolutely no correlation b/ late season winning % and postseason success/failure. But you go ahead and keep thinking that beating up on teams that gave up long ago increases the Cardinals chances of beating Clayton Kershaw in game 1 of the NLDS (for example).

      I can see momentum having an effect in a sport like football. Team sport, fast paced. Guys get back on their heels, a DB gets hesitant after getting beat a couple of times, etc. But that stuff does not carry over to the next week. It just doesn’t.

  8. misterj167 - Aug 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Meanwhile, on ESPN:

    “Another tough loss for the Phillies, Bob”

    “That’s right Doug, but keep in mind that they’re still only four games behind the Nationals, which is always hopeful. Still, they have a pretty bad record since the All-Star Break and they need to put together some wins.”

    “Getting swept at home sure didn’t help.”

    “Who did they play again?”

    “I forget.”

    “Next, A-Rod accidentally bumped into his microphone during yesterday’s press conference, is it because of all the steroids he took? We’ll have a 45-minute interview with the manager of his minor league team after the break. Then stay tuned for our three-hour special: ‘Nationals: Team Of Destiny’.”

    • misterj167 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:06 AM

      Okay, I’m exaggerating. So sue me.

  9. jcmeyer10 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    You know when a puppy gets excited as pees? That was Craig writing this article.

  10. xujudadyveg - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    my friend’s ex-wife makes $84 every hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 9 months but last month her income was $19559 just working on the internet for a few hours. Here’s the site to read more ……. Max47.ℂ­ℴ­ℳ

    • jcmeyer10 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Damn, she only had to work 232 hours last month! Where can I sign up!?!?!

  11. spacemaker101 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    I talking from personal experience with the game dude.. I didn’t go google some stat and copy and paste shit… If you’ve played any sport you know mo helps you win and keeps streaks going

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      Which major league teams did you play for?

    • chc4 - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      Ultimate Frisbee and yard darts aren’t real sports. Just stop it.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 5, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        Hey, leave Ultimate alone! I played club-level ultimate in college.

  12. jlee999 - Aug 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    I have read these comments and I am convinced.

    Most of you guys are truly NUTS !!!!

    Heaven help you all.

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