The Braves' roll could not be slowed Monday as they won their 11th straight game in a 3-2 victory over the Nationals. Atlanta has now opened a season-high 13.5 game lead over Washington in the NL East with the latter having 50 games to salvage what has become a disastrous season.
Not only that, but the Braves have now held the Nationals to four or fewer runs in each of their last 10 meetings, the longest active streak of its kind in the majors.
But that's not all.
The Braves are the ninth team in the Wild Card era (1995-present) to lead a division by 13.5 games or more with 49 left to play. Not surprisingly, the previous eight all won their respective division races.
I'm not telling you that you should find a fat lady and tell her to sing, but you might want to at least scope out your local Curves as a precautionary measure.
So the Nationals are seven games back in the wild card race and would need to go 44-6 in their last 50 games to match their win total from last season, but I'm not here to rain on your parade, which the Nationals have already destroyed with their bare hands. I'm here to tell you that there is hope. Maybe.
Here are some division/wild card races that looked over, but ultimately weren't:
2011 Boston Red Sox
Who could forget this epic collapse? After falling out of first place in the AL East late in the season, the Red Sox still had the wild card to fall back on, or so they thought. Leading the Tampa Bay Rays by nine games in early September, the Sox finished 7-20, missing the playoffs on the last day of the season after blowing a 3-2 ninth-inning lead against the Baltimore Orioles while the Rays rallied from 7-0 down to defeat the New York Yankees to claim the final playoff berth.
Boston was the first team in MLB history to have a nine-game lead in September and fail to make the playoffs.
Hey, look. The Braves led the St. Louis Cardinals by 10.5 games in the NL wild card race in late August, 8.5 in early September and three with five games to play and still missed the playoffs. So, the Braves are familiar with disappointment.
2009 Detroit Tigers
The Tigers became the first team in history to blow a three-game division lead with four games to play when they lost three of their final four games and the Twins won all four of theirs to force a one-game playoff for the AL Central title. The Tigers, who were in first place for 164 consecutive days during the season, led the game in extra innings, but lost 6-5 in 12.
So it is possible. Probably won't happen, but it's possible. And if it does, I look like a genius. Win-win.
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