Chipper Jones has no illusions that the Braves are going to catch the Phillies in the NL East — he rules that possibility out — but he thinks the Braves stack up pretty well with them overall and is hoping the teams meet in the playoffs:
“The only team that can really put any pressure on them and beat them somewhat is us. And I hope we get them head-to-head in the postseason. If we get them head-to-head, we like our chances. We’ve beaten their big three. I’m not sure if any other team in baseball has beaten their big three. They’re a great ballclub, don’t get me wrong. But we’re not scared of them. It’s going to be a knock down, drag out [fight].”
I think playoff predictions are kind of silly. Every team — even the best teams — play three or four lackluster games in a row several times a season and every team — even flawed ones — play three or four awesome games in a row several times a year. If those things line up just right (or wrong) in a series in October we tend to read more into it than we should. Which is understandable because of the stakes involved and the significance of the victory after the fact. But it’s not like one can predict that kind of thing.
So, yeah, if the Braves meet the Phillies in the NLCS there is a chance they could beat them. If you put a gun to my head and make me pick a winner I say it’s the Phillies because I have a hard time seeing how anyone can beat Halladay, Lee and Hamels the requisite number of times to advance past them. But of course there is a chance anyone can beat anyone in a short series, so that’s not worth a ton.
And given the Braves’ postseason experiences over the course of his career, Chipper Jones knows that inferior teams can easily beat superior teams at any time because the playoffs are just crazy and unpredictable like that. Indeed, he knows that better than any active player in baseball. Which makes me think that — wait for it — he’s just trying to mess with Phillies fans, much the way he messed with Mets fans for years.
Imagine that. A Braves partisan baiting Phillies fans. That’s unpossible!
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.