Thursday morning Braves thoughts

Bill Shanks has some thoughts on this pennant race the Braves are in with now less than a week to go in the regular season.

Well, this isn't what we thought would happen, is it?

The Braves are in a mess folks. They have played so poorly in September that they are now only a game and a half up on St. Louis in the National League wildcard.

Atlanta was 8.5 games up on the Cardinals on September 2. Now they are only one game up in the loss column.

The Braves are off today. The Cardinals host the Mets Thursday at 1:45. If they win, St. Louis will be only one game back of Atlanta with both teams having six games to play.

Atlanta will play three games in Washington and then finish the regular season at home against Philadelphia. St. Louis will host Chicago for a three-game series before ending the year in Houston.

So the Cardinals have the easier schedule. The Braves have had trouble with Washington and the Phillies are the Phillies.

This is not going to be easy.

But today's game for St. Louis will be one to watch. It's important for them to get a game out with six games to play. If they lose, the Braves will have a bit more of an advantage with time running out.

Derek Lowe wasn't horrible Thursday night against the Marlins, but Javy Vazquez was just better. It's hard to blame Lowe for the loss when the Braves' bats were silenced by their former teammate.

Now the inconsistency in the offense is costing this team its lead in the wildcard race. And the worst thing may be that fans are running out of confidence that even if the Braves do get to the playoffs they'll be able to do anything special.

With the way they are playing right now, it's hard to feel good about anything.

Let's hope they enjoy the day off and come back out strong Friday in Washington. They've got to face Stephen Strasburg, but Atlanta will throw its ace Tim Hudson against the Nationals.

It's crunch time. At times this month the Braves have not looked like they were in a pennant race. Like it or not, they're in one now, and unless they want to be labeled as one of the teams that has choked over the past few years, they better have a great weekend in the Nation's Capitol.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, GA and WCOH Fox Sports 1400 in Newnan, GA. Shanks is a columnist for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at and follow him on Twitter at

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