ATLANTA–How's this for virtual reality?
If the National League playoffs started today, the Braves and Brewers would be in a virtual tie for both wild-card slots; and that's an odd thing to write, considering Milwaukee has played six more games than Atlanta for the season.
(Brewers–121 games ... Braves 115)
Here's another strange nugget to lament: Even though the Brewers (67-54) won the seasonal head-to-head tally (4-3), the Braves would still host the NL Wild Card Game in October, due to enjoying a fractional advantage with percentage points.
Obviously, these gaps in games played will be rectified by season's end. So, why worry about this stuff in the interim?
Especially in the afterglow of the Braves' thrilling comeback win over the Brewers, an 8-7 triumph which featured zero steals, two caught stealings, four combined homers ... and 19 Milwaukee hits.
Note: The National League single-game record for team hits is 31, set in 1901 (New York Giants).
And especially with the Braves (64-51) and Phillies (65-52) now locked in a–you guessed it–VIRTUAL tie for first place in the NL East.
"I'm just so proud of the guys," said Braves skipper Brian Snitker after the victory, addressing the media with a raspy voice. "(This) was one of the hardest games that we had to win all year."
The Braves are succeeding on multiple fronts, in lieu of the dueling virtual ties for the divisional and wild-card battles. Things are looking bright on the logistical end, as well, with Atlanta set for eight home encounters with Miami and Colorado over the next seven days (doubleheader on Monday).
And soon thereafter, the Braves will have two more home stands of nine-plus games over the final six weeks.
The only short-term worry: Braves southpaw Sean Newcomb reverted back to his desultory form from early July, surrendering five runs and 12 hits over four sluggish Sunday innings. As a counter to that, the rookie had enjoyed a 2.05 ERA over his previous four starts.
As for the offense ...
The Braves got off to a flying start against Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson, scoring two runs in the 1st (thanks to three consecutive hits from Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Johan Camargo) and another two in the 2nd, courtesy of Ronald Acuna Jr.'s two-run blast over the wall in center field.
But Milwaukee responded in due time, relying on a three-run homer from Jesus Aguilar in the fourth inning. With a 3-2 count and one out, Newcomb tossed a high-arcing curveball to the outside corner, perhaps hoping Aguilar would attempt to pull the ball for a ground-ball out.
Instead, the All-Star slugger kept his hips in for another millisecond and launched a mammoth shot to right field.
In a flash, the Brewers suddenly owned a 5-4 advantage.
That lead would improve to 7-5 two frames later; but it was a fleeting experience of comfort. In the bottom of the 6th, with Tyler Flowers on base (hit batsman), Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson pulled a belt-high, tailing fastball for a two-run homer off Brewers reliever Corbin Burnes.
The homer put the SunTrust Park crowd in a delirious tizzy, sensing the club would somehow pull out the victory, despite Milwaukee amassing 18 hits in the first six innings.
For Swanson, the moment had to be especially sweet, since he had collected just homer since June 25.
And like any good 2B-SS partnership, Albies quickly followed up Swanson with the game-clinching blast, securing Atlanta's 10th victory in 14 outings.