Braves vs. Phillies: Loser leaves town. Or something

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Braves rookie pitcher Matt Wisler gave up four runs in the fourth inning on a pair of homers, and the Braves never got a runner to second base in a 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday. (Getty Images)

The second half of the Braves’ season feels more like a march toward a funeral pyre in which all the bats, gloves and caps should be tossed on Oct. 4, following that day’s season-finale game against the Cardinals at Turner Field.

Oh, and doesn’t it seem somehow appropriate that this death march of a season will end with three games against St. Louis, which has baseball’s best record (92-54 before Friday) and sits atop baseball’s best division, the NL Central.

Braves rookie pitcher Matt Wisler gave up four runs in the fourth inning on a pair of homers, and the Braves never got a runner to second base in a 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Braves rookie pitcher Matt Wisler gave up four runs in the fourth inning on a pair of homers, and the Braves never got a runner to second base in a 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Unless the Cardinals, seemingly always good whether you like it or not, are caught looking past the Braves (57-90 before Friday) toward the first round of the playoffs, the opportunity will certainly be there during the final weekend of the season for machine-like St. Louis to hammer Atlanta and underscore just how inexperienced and entirely overmatched these Bravos were for most of the second half of the season.

But for now, we turn our attentions once more to the Phillies (56-91) and one last head-to-head series to help determine who finishes at the bottom of the NL Least, baseball’s worst division, as well as who gets the No. 1 pick in the June draft, which would be the only consolation for having a season as horrific as this one has become for the Braves.

The Braves won just once in the first seven games of this 10-game homestand, getting swept in four games by the first-place Mets and losing two of three to the first-place Blue Jays. Now they’ll see what they can do against the last-place Phillies before the Braves head out for their final road trip of the season, to face the Mets again and then the Marlins.

Appropriately enough, the Braves and Phillies have split the first 16 games of this 19-game season series. Butwhile the Braves are one game ahead in the standings entering this series, there’s no question which is the worst team in the season’s second half. In the division, in the league, in the majors — the Braves have long since had that ignominy wrapped up.

The Phillies were baseball’s worst team before the All-Star break, stumbling to a 29-62 record. But they’re 27-29 since the break.

The Phillies went  23-16 with 43 homers and 189 runs in a 39-game stretch through Aug. 29, but are just 4-13 with a 6.42 ERA in their past 17 games entering this series for (or to stay out of) the cellar. The Phillies did, however, split a four-game series against the playoff-bound Cubs last weekend, winning Saturday and Sunday by scores of 7-5 and 7-4.

The Braves haven’t won consecutive games in nearly six weeks, since taking the first three games (Aug. 6-8) in a four-game series against the Marlins.

You may never see another 30-game stretch as bad as what the Braves completed with last night’s 5-0 loss to the Blue Jays, in which the home nine mustered three hits and didn’t advance a runner to second base all night. Seriously, you may never see anything quite this bad. The Braves are 4-26 with a 6.58 ERA, 15 homers and 85 runs scored in their past 30 games, and they scored two runs or fewer in 15 of those 30 games.

Half of Atlanta’s four wins in that 30-game period came against – you guessed it – the Phillies. The Braves won at Philadelphia Sept. 7 and Sept. 9, accounting for the Braves’ only series win in their past nine series. The only other games they won in that 30-game stretch were Aug. 24 against the Rockies and Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

Speaking of the Blue Jays, they started their season 50-50, added some very big pieces via trade, and today they are 84-62 and atop the AL East standings.

The Braves 42-42 after 84 games, and today they’re 57-90 and need six wins in their last 15 games just to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1988. The once-unimaginable 100-loss season now seems almost certain, given the Braves’ performance over these past … oh, I’ve lost count of how many weeks this slog has gone on. Just put it out of its misery.

• Who’d have thunk it: Braves have won their past 16 home games decided by one run going back to May 1, the longest streak of its kind in Braves history. Over past 30 years, only two teams had longer such streaks – the Red Sox won 18 consecutive home games decided by one run during a period spanning the 2005-2006 seasons, and the Giants won 17 during a stretch spanning the 1995-1996 seasons. No team in the past 30 years has had a single-season streak as long as the Braves’ current one.

Let’s close with this classic from one of the greatest mod/punk bands there ever was. Paul Weller is a rock god, and here he is with the rest of the lads who made up The Jam.

“FUNERAL PYRE” by The Jam

The Jam

The Jam

Down in amongst the streets tonight
Books will burn, people laugh and cry in their turmoil
(Turmoil turns rejoiceful)
Shed your fears and lose your guilt
Tonight we burn responsibility in the fire
We’ll watch the flames grow higher
But if you get too burnt, you can’t come back home
And as I was standing by the edge
I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing
(And the flames grew)
Their mad eyes bulged, their flushed faces said
The weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger

We feast on flesh and drink on blood
Live by fear and despise love in a crises
(What with today’s high prices)
Bring some paper and bring some wood
Bring what’s left of all your love for the fire
We’ll watch the flames grow higher!
But if you get too burnt, you can’t come back home
And as I was standing by the edge
I could see the faces of those who led pissing themselves laughing
(And the flames grew)
Their mad eyes bulged their flushed faces said
The weak get crushed as the strong grow stronger

In the funeral pyre
We’ll watch the flames grow higher
But if you get too burnt, you can’t come back home
In the funeral pyre
We’ll watch the flames grow higher
But if you get too burnt, you can’t come back home
In the funeral pyre
We’ll watch the flames grow higher
But if you get too burnt, you can’t come back home
In the funeral pyre

When I feel so young, well I just can’t grow up to meet the demands
When I feel so old, when I feel so young
Well, I just can’t grow up to meet their demands
Well, I just can’t grow up to meet their demands


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