Following another poor offensive showing in Tuesday night's 7-1 loss, the Braves still have a shot to clinch in their 162nd game. With St. Louis winning on Tuesday, Atlanta needs to beat Philadelphia coupled with a St. Louis loss to wrap up its second consecutive Wild Card berth. Should the Braves and Cards remain even following the season's 162nd game, they will play a tiebreaker Thursday at 8:07 p.m. ET in St. Louis.
Standing in the Braves' way will be a combination of Joe Blanton and Cole Hamels. Blanton, who has pitched out of the bullpen since returning to the Phils' roster on Sept. 12, has tallied just five innings in four appearances since that date. The right-hander has allowed one earned run on four hits since his return, after going 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA in six starts before going on the disabled list in mid-May with a right elbow injury.
However, the Braves will not go without seeing one of the Phillies' eventual postseason starters. Hamels is slated to make an appearance in relief. Should the game fall the right way, Hamels could pick up his 15th victory of the season. If he were to earn the win, the Phillies would become the first team since the 1972 Orioles to boast three pitchers with at least 15 wins and an ERA under 3.00.
The Braves will counter with Tim Hudson, who manager Fredi Gonzalez had hoped to save for Game 1 of the NL Division Series. Yet, that plan changed given his club's inability to wrap up a postseason berth. Should Atlanta advance to a one-game playoff on Thursday, Gonzalez will hand the ball to Brandon Beachy. Nevertheless, the Braves will line up behind a confident ace on Wednesday.
"I hope and think that everybody in this locker room has confidence that I'm going to go out there and give us a better than average chance to win [Wednesday]," Hudson said. "It's a big game. Last game of the season, obviously. I'm excited about it. I'm going to enjoy every minute that I'm out there. I'm going to be ready to go.
"Hopefully I can go out there and do my job, take a lot of pressure off of our guys. It's going to start with our starting pitching. If I go out there and do my job, set the tone early, it could be smooth sailing after that."
Phillies: Pence prepared for postseason?
Hunter Pence has put together a productive two months, hitting .325 (63-for-194) with 11 home runs, 33 RBIs with 12 doubles since joining the Phils at the Trade Deadline. Pence is nearing the end of his fourth season, but this will be his first time playing in October.
The Phillies are headed to their fifth consecutive postseason, extending a franchise record that tops the previous mark of three straight from 1976-78.
Braves: Rookie Triple Crown
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has garnered attention for his chase of the NL Triple Crown, but Freddie Freeman nearly seized the NL rookie Triple Crown. Atlanta's first baseman leads all qualifying NL rookies in homers (tied -- 21) and RBIs (76) and also leads the rookie pack with 160 hits, 67 runs and 52 extra-base hits. His .283 batting average trails the Mets' Lucas Duda, who is hitting .292 in 100 games this season.
Cliff Lee struck out six in his final start of the regular season, giving him 238 strikeouts and just 42 walks in 232 2/3 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only four pitchers in baseball history have thrown at least a 150 innings and posted a lower walk-to-innings ratio: (Pedro Martinez '99-'00), Curt Schilling ('01-'02), Randy Johnson ('04) and Ben Sheets ('04).
Charlie Manuel, who took over as the Phils' manager in 2005, tied Gene Mauch's franchise record for wins with 645. Mauch posted a 645-684-2 (.485) record with the club from 1960-68.
Dan Uggla reached 30 home runs for the fifth time in his career in 2011. Only four second basemen in baseball history have at least three 30-homer seasons -- Rogers Hornsby, Jeff Kent, Alfonso Soriano and Chase Utley.