The Atlanta Braves (75-71) are in ‘must-win’ mode now as the season winds down. With a win against the Washington Nationals Wednesday afternoon, the Braves temporarily kept their Wild Card hopes alive. They currently trail the Pittsburgh Pirates by 1.5 games in the chase for the second Wild Card spot.
The Braves travel to Arlington, TX, to face the Texas Rangers (54-91) in a three game series starting at 8:05 ET Friday night. The Rangers are in disarray this season, losing several key players to season long injuries and manager Ron Washington resigning last month for personal reasons.
The Rangers feature an anemic offense led by Adrian Beltre. Slugger Prince Fielder and OBP machine Shin Soo Choo are both on the 60-day DL with season ending injuries. Former Braves’ prospect Elvis Andrus‘s arrival is sure to generate some whining among a contingent of fans about the 5 WorldSeries title the Braves could have won had they not traded Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones for Mark Teixeira. Their startingpitching has the second highest ERA in the majors (5.08), and they have lost Japanese ace Yu Darvish and his arsenal of 47 different pitches to the 60-day DL.
This series is a clear chance for the Braves to right themselves offensively, start a winning streak, and gain some momentum into the final days of the season. If the Braves lose any games in this series, they are effectively dead in the water. They will have a four game series against Pittsburgh next week, but the race could be over by then.