The Braves blew a large wild card lead in September in 2011. Padres couldn’t force the Dodgers to do the same with the division this year.
2011 Atlanta Braves
The happiest group of players about the 2011 Red Sox collapse besides the Tampa Bay players who made the playoffs directly is probably the 2011 Atlanta Braves. They too lost 18 of their final 25 games, squandered a 8.5 game lead to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In this one, the Braves too needed to win just one of three of their final games to secure a wild card spot – and they could not do it. In the final game of the season, they played Philadelphia and BLEW a lead in the ninth with stud Rookie of the Year closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound. St. Louis of course had won earlier in the day because you just expect St. Louis to win.
This year’s Braves were supposed to be different though. Bobby Cox had gone in 2010 with one more playoff exit with the Braves in a tough fought series with the Giants. 2011 though was supposed to be even better. Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman were ready to lead this team. Chipper Jones – who did not play in the 2010 playoffs due to injury – played all season. Brian McCann, who had debuted the last of the 14 straight division titles in 2005 now was the veteran with the Braves mantle-in-waiting from Chipper.
Yet, the pitching wore out. All Star starters Jair Jurrgens and Tommy Hanson got hurt and did not pitch in September. The relieving triumvirate of Eric O’Flaherty, Johnny Venters, and Kimbrel faltered – and it should be pointed out – 2 of those 3 have never been the same since. The Braves fell and this one hurt. They made (and lost) the one game playoff in 2012, lost a tough division series after winning the NL East in 2013, and then reverted. 2014 they played well but swooned in September, and this year they might end up yet with the worst season in baseball.
Next: 2007 New York Mets Collapse