It was October 11, 2010. Game 4 of the NLDS. Juan Uribe and Cody Ross both drove in runs in the top of the seventh inning off of Braves relievers Peter Moylan and Johnny Venters, putting the Giants up 3-2. The Giants would go on to win the game, Bobby Cox would go on to salute the crowd as his last game as skipper, and San Francisco would go on to win the World Series in five games.
Now, if the season ended today, these two squads would meet in an NL Wild Card match that barely one predicted (or continues to predict will actually come to existence). But say the Boys from the Bay and their unlikely trio of heros lately meet up with the streaky Braves, who would come out on top to face the "Mighty" Dodgers? Let's take a look:
The Braves are the most bipolar team in baseball at the moment. Winners of five straight after dropping 9 of 11 (including eight straight), Atlanta is somehow on top of the Wild Card race and a single game outside of first place for the National League. Martin Prado has been leading the team with his bat, Dan Uggla looks to be earning an All-Star spot with his bat, and Jason Heyward, despite a mediocre season at the plate, is still showing good signs as being the future of this team. If Craig Kimbrel (who happens to have 17 saves) can keep helping the Braves close out games and start helping the Braves close out games consistently again, this team could be dangerous.
The Giants aren't surprising too many people by being in the playoff picture, but it is a surprise by just how they're doing it. Remember Melky Cabrera? He's batting .364 (though injured at the moment). Remember Angel Pagan? He now owns San Francisco's franchise record for home hitting streak. And remember Gregor Blanco? Well, maybe not, but he's coming alive batting almost .500 with two homers in six doubles in his last three games. And with a pair of 7-game winners and one of the sturdiest pens in the game, San Fran would be a tough team to conquer.
Matchup: The Giants haven't been shut out all season except for last night, so don't expect the Braves to make it too much of a pitcher's duel. The Giants will probably score first, and it would be 50/50 if the Braves could solve Vogelsong or Bumgarner or whoever the G-Men have in their arsenal. If, literally, the season ended today, I can see the Braves going hard in the later innings and not even making it close. But if after 162 games these 2 teams meet, I don't see the Braves getting to the second round, even with home-field. Giants 1-0