Braves hold on to beat Phillies; 3-way tie still possible


The Braves made it far too interesting after taking an 8-2 lead in the sixth inning Saturday, giving up two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth, yet they held on to beat the Phillies 8-7 and guarantee that Bobby Cox will manage at least one more game.
With the victory, the Braves are 91-71. The Padres and Giants are currently playing this afternoon, with San Diego going for a three-game sweep. If the Padres win, all three teams will be 91-71, leading to one-game playoffs on Monday and Tuesday. If the Giants prevail, then the NL playoff picture will be set, with the Padres being eliminated.
The Braves seemed to be staring at an easy win today with Tim Hudson in command. He allowed just two hits in the contest. However, both were two-run homers. John Mayberry Jr. hit one in the third, and Jayson Werth hit the second in the seventh, bringing the Phillies back to within four runs.
Things got dicey in the eighth, as the Braves turned to Jonny Venters to replace Hudson. After two quick outs, Venters allowed a single and then had Mike Sweeney reach on an Omar Infante error. That brought in Billy Wagner, who gave up a single and a double to make it an 8-7 game.
Wagner got out of trouble after intentionally walking Jayson Werth and striking out Raul Ibanez. He then struck out Shane Victorino, Brian Schneider and Greg Dobbs all looking in the ninth, ending the game.
Of real concern to Atlanta has to be that both Infante and Brooks Conrad committed errors in the game. Those two switched positions today, with Infante moving from third to second, because of Conrad’s recent problems making throws from the hot corner. The Braves may want to reevaluate things now. Infante offers superior range at second base, and that is the busier position of the two.
The Braves offense shined today, but it did so against a bunch of pitchers just getting their work in. After Cole Hamels opened with two hitless innings, the following seven pitchers allowed 14 hits and six walks. Roy Oswalt gave up a run in his one inning, and Joe Blanton allowed two in his.
The Phillies could have suffered something of a blow in the seventh, as lefty specialist J.C. Romero left with an apparent injury. He’s struggled much of the year, but he was still going to be counted on for matchup purposes in the postseason.

Cavaliers will move ring ceremony to avoid conflict with World Series start

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 11: A general exterior image of the Quicken Loans arena which is next door to Progressive Field where the Chicago White Sox will take on the Cleveland Indians on July 11, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.

In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.

Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.

Indians could benefit from long rest before the World Series

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09: Danny Salazar #31 of the Cleveland Indians delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on September 9, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday,’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.

Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.

Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.

The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.