“You’re never prepared for that,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said Aug. 26. “We’re playing pretty good going into it. You want to make sure you stay that same way coming out of it.”
Most Braves players and coaches didn’t find out about the Saturday postponement until they reached Citi Field in Queens on Friday afternoon. They had to turn around and take cabs or the subway back to the team hotel in Manhattan, to pack their suitcases.
A couple of hours later, Chris Capuano threw a two-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts, and the Mets hammered the Braves 9-0.
Key stat: Jonny Venters allowed two runs, two hits and a walk in the eighth inning of the Aug. 26 loss, ending a string of 24 scoreless appearances. The lefty would post a 5.64 ERA and .278 opponents' average in his final 15 appearances, allowing nine earned runs in 14 1/3 innings — as many earned runs as he allowed in his previous 70 appearances.
Sept. 2: Braves blew a 5-0 lead after three innings and lost 8-6 to the Dodgers in Atlanta. Rookie Arodys Vizcaino was charged with five runs in one-third of an inning. "We had all the momentum, and we lost it," Chipper Jones said. "Somehow, we lost it."
Key stat: After posting a 1.69 ERA and .086 opponents' average in his first nine appearances through Aug. 30, Vizcaino had a 9.45 ERA and .406 opponents' average in eight September appearances.
Sept. 5: The Braves and Derek Lowe lost 9-0 at Philadelphia. Cliff Lee threw a five-hitter, and Lowe was charged with seven runs (five earned) in five innings.
Key stat: Lowe went 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA in five September starts, after going 5-0 with a 1.17 ERA in five starts in September 2010.
Sept. 7: The Braves blew a 2-1 lead after seven innings at Philadelphia and lost 3-2 for a sweep. Their fifth loss in six games dropped the Braves to 10 1/2 behind the Phillies and trimmed the wild-card lead to 6 1/2. "We came in here and got swept, but there's still 20 games to go," Eric Hinske said. "We've still got a nice [wild-card] lead. Just keep your heads up and keep going. That's all you can do."
Key stat: Martin Prado hit .244 with a .269 OBP and six RBIs in 21 games after Sept. 5.
Sept. 9: The Braves blew a 3-1 lead after eight innings in a 4-3, 10-inning loss at St. Louis. Kimbrel gave up two runs in the ninth inning for his first blown save in nearly three months. Dan Uggla on the 6 1/2-game wild-card lead over St. Louis: "We're not comfortable with it by any means. We're looking to clinch this thing as fast as possible."
Key stat: Kimbrel had a 7.36 ERA and a .259 opponents' average with three blown saves in his final eight appearances, after converting 25 consecutive saves and pitching 37 2/3 scoreless innings in his previous 38 appearances, with a .112 opponents' average.
Sept. 10: The Braves got one hit in the last three innings of another 4-3 loss to the Cardinals, dropping them to 2-5 on their trip. "I think we're close to breaking out, to where stuff will start clicking offensively and the pitching won't have to carry us the whole time," Michael Bourn said. Said Brian McCann: "We're up 5 1/2 games with two weeks left. We know we need to start winning some games. We're fine."
Key stat: McCann had two homers and four RBIs on Aug. 25 at Chicago, then hit .183 with two homers and nine RBIs in 26 games the rest of the way.
Sept. 11: Tim Hudson allowed six runs in six innings of a 6-3 loss that gave the Cardinals a sweep. Said Gonzalez: "We've still got a 4 1/2-game lead; now we'll go home and sleep in our beds a little bit and get everything clicking again. It feels like we're close offensively." Said Hudson: "We just need to get home, get our feet under us a little bit, take a deep breath and understand they're chasing us, we're not chasing them."
Key stat: The Braves' .235 average and .300 on-base percentage were second-worst in the NL in September, and their .195 average with runners in scoring position was second-worst in the majors.
Sept. 19: Jones lost a two-out grounder in the lights in the ninth inning at Florida, and the next batter, Omar Infante, hit a two-run homer off Kimbrel for a 6-5 Marlins win that reduced the lead to 2 1/2 games. "One strike away and you lose a ground ball in the lights," Jones said. "That makes you think that the baseball gods have been on our side for 154 games, and now they're turning their back on us."
Key stat: Braves starters lasted six innings or fewer in 20 of 23 games after Sept. 5, including five innings or fewer in 10.
Sept. 21: Javier Vazquez and two Marlins relievers combined on a two-hitter, and the Braves lost 4-0 to cut their lead to 1 1/2 games. Said Gonzalez: "Maybe it's good to have a day off now, regroup and get ready for the next six."
Key stat: The only part of the "O'Ventbrel" relief trio that didn't falter in September was Eric O'Flaherty, who finished with 20 consecutive scores appearances, 15 after Aug. 25.
Sept. 25: In a 3-0 loss at Washington, the Braves failed to scored after loading the bases with none out in second inning and with runners at second and third and none out in fourth. Gonzalez on failing with runners in scoring position: "I feel like those hitters at any given time are going to be able to do that again. Really, I feel that confident about our hitters. They're too good to be going through long stretches like this without scoring runs."
Sept. 27: Braves got four hits, and Lowe gave up five runs in four innings of 7-1 loss to Phillies, the fourth in a row for the Braves, and their wild-card lead was gone. "I've let everybody down in here," Lowe said. "I've really made it difficult after tonight. But again, once you get in you never know. That's the beauty of the playoffs."
Sept. 28: Kimbrel gives up the tying run in the ninth inning of the season finale against the Phillies, and the Braves lost 4-3 in 13 innings. St. Louis defeated Houston and won the wild card.
“I don’t really have the words right now,” Freddie Freeman said.
Jones: “Shocking situation.”
Bourn: “We let it slip away. Now we’re going to the house.”