It was one thing when underperformers like Domonic Brown were complaining about Ryne Sandberg’s decisions. But now Cole Hamels is. At least in a passive-aggressive fashion. From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:
Cole Hamels appeared none too happy with Sandberg’s decision to remove him from Tuesday night’s game after giving up a game-tying home run (on his 84th pitch) to lead off the eighth inning . . . After the game, Hamels employed some textbook passive aggressiveness in confirming what his body language told everybody in the ballpark as he left the mound: He was perturbed that Sandberg did not let him stay in the game.
“Um, I just think it was a good game and we were able to win,” said Hamels as he pointedly dodged a question about why he was so visibly upset upon leaving the game.
He had only thrown 84 pitches. But at the same time, he had escaped a jam of his own devising in the seventh and had just given up the lead. And his team won. His team has won a lot lately, actually, against some good teams. One would think that would buy Sandberg a little slack, but I guess not.
The Braves clinched a postseason berth with Saturday’s 10-1 win over the Nationals. Now, the only question is whether they’ll get there with an NL East division title or via one of two wild card spots currently up for grabs.
Granted, things are looking pretty good on the division title front. After losing their second straight game to the Braves, the Nationals sit 10.5 games back of first place in the NL East, and every other division rival is at least 15 games out. The Braves, meanwhile, carry a magic number of four; should they clinch, it’ll be their 19th franchise title and 14th since they migrated to the East division in 1994.
They certainly looked like postseason contenders on Saturday. Mike Foltynewicz led the charge with six innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball, limiting the Nationals to four hits while rookie right-hander Austin Voth kept the Braves scoreless through 5 2/3 frames. Things started to tip in Atlanta’s favor in the sixth inning: Nick Markakis put the team on the board with an RBI single, and a four-run breakout in the seventh helped cement a sizable lead. Over the last three innings, the Braves found opportunity after opportunity against the Nationals’ bullpen, capitalizing on walks, throwing errors, and productive outs as they climbed toward a double-digit finish.
The win didn’t come without some sacrifice, however. The Braves lost Charlie Culberson to a facial injury after he was struck by a Fernando Rodney fastball in the seventh inning, and they’ll likely be without him for the remainder of the regular season — pending a formal diagnosis, of course. Culberson’s loss isn’t the only one the club is feeling right now, either, as Johan Camargo ended his season with a hairline fracture in his right shin and Freddie Freeman is playing through a minor bout of elbow soreness after making an early exit from Friday’s 5-0 shutout.