The Atlanta Braves have sure picked an opportune time to get hot; problem is, it just might be too late.
No longer in control of their own fate, the Braves are surging, completing a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals this weekend to stay two-and-a-half games behind NL Wild Card-leading Colorado with seven games left to play.
Atlanta’s latest sweep caps a 6-0 road trip for the club, which also extended their road winning streak to 10 games, their first stretch of as many games since 1994 and just fifth in franchise history.
The Braves play division rival Florida for three before finishing up with four more games against Washington at Turner Field to end the season.
The Rockies will play the Brewers for three at home before finishing the season on the road in LA with three games against the playoff-bound Dodgers.
Atlanta, which has the National League’s best record since June 28 (51-30), is baseball’s hottest team right now.
They rebounded from a 1-6 stretch to start the month of September, which put them eight-and-a-half games behind Colorado, and at the time seemingly ended the team’s postseason aspirations.
Since then, the Braves have reeled off 14 wins in their past 16 games to stay hot on the heels of the Rockies in a last ditch effort to make the playoffs.
But, they may have waited too long to put together their best streak of baseball of the season.
While the odds are still stacked against them, Atlanta’s awe-inspiring final push for the playoffs has made for a compelling Wild Card race.
The Braves’ latest stretch of play has players and fans excited about the future of the club heading into the 2010 season.
Atlanta’s never say die attitude is a stark contrast from the team’s often stoic mentality that was present during their run of 14 consecutive division titles.
During their last four playoff appearances spanning from 2002-2005, the Braves coasted into postseason play, only to get bounced by a streaking Wild Card team in the first round of the playoffs to end their season.
This time around, if Atlanta finds a way to sneak in, roles would be reversed and the Braves may be able to wreak the kind of misfortune on a division winner that was bestowed upon them for so many years.
However, their ultimate destiny is out of their hands.
The Braves know one or two more losses likely end their season.
And, without some help from the Brewers and Dodgers, it will be a moot point anyway.
All they can do is keep winning–and hope.