Braves face elimination Tuesday night

The Braves' chances for the postseason are fading fast as the September collapse continued Monday night.

The Atlanta Braves have watched a lot of teams clinch division titles and series on their home field this century. It could happen again Tuesday night with the Nationals’ magic number down to two to clinch the National League East.

Atlanta lost 4-2 Monday night in game one of the series. The Braves have now lost four in a row and are at the .500 mark (75-75). They are 3-10 in September. They have scored only 33 games in those 13 games. The Braves are 23-32 since the All-Star Break and 58-68 since the 17-7 start in April. There are 12 games left in the regular season.

The Braves are 11.5 games back of the Nationals (86-63) in the NL East. All the Nationals have to do is win Tuesday night to clinch the division. Atlanta is 4.5 games back in the wild card. Pittsburgh (79-70) is the second team. The Pirates are 2.5 games back of San Francisco (82-68) for the top spot. Milwaukee (78-72) is 1.5 games back of the Pirates and three games up on the Braves. The Marlins (73-76) are 1.5 games back of the Braves.

Atlanta got another solid performance from a starting pitcher Monday as Ervin Santana gave up two runs on three hits in six innings. He took the loss, however, and is now 14-9 on the season. The Braves scored two runs in the 9th inning to make the game a bit closer.

However, something happened at the end of the game that clearly represented the problems on this Atlanta team right now. B.J. Upton was up with the tying runs in scoring position. He lined a two-hopper to Ian Desmond, who bobbled it, but still threw Upton out by a step-and-a-half at first base.

The replay really didn’t show much, but on the Braves Live postgame show, hosts Tom Hart and Brian Jordan criticized Upton for not getting out of the batter’s box quickly enough. Jordan was visibly upset that Upton had not run as fast as he could to avoid being thrown out.

This is the latest in a number of questionable plays by Upton this season. While he made a nice diving catch earlier in the game, lollygagging out of the box when the game is on the line is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, however, everyone is used to it. That’s practically the theme of this season for the Braves.

The attendance Monday was listed as 18,220. But that was obviously tickets sold. It looked like more around 12,000 were actually in the stadium, which for a team supposedly in a pennant race is embarrassing. Fans do not like this team and are fed up with the pathetic offense and occasional lapses in hustle by certain players.

Aaron Harang (11-10, 3.72) will face Washington and Tanner Roark (13-10, 2.96) Tuesday night in game two of the series at Turner Field.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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