As bleak as things have been lately for the Bravos, we forget that the outlook was much bleaker 10 years ago. On this day 10 years ago the local nine were 34-39, 4 games out first. Johnny Estrada was carrying the offense. Chipper was batting .210. Nick Green was getting starts at 2B. As for the pitching — a rotation of John Thomson, Paul Byrd, Mike Hampton, Russ Ortiz and Jaret Wright says it all.
On June 27, 2004, entering the 8th inning of a game vs. Baltimore, the season appeared lost for good. The Braves trailed 7-1 to Matt Riley, who had a career 5.99 ERA. But at that point the tide turned dramatically. The Braves scored 7 unanswered runs off Mike DeJean, Jason Grimsley and B.J. Ryan to win the series. They reached the .500 mark a week later and never looked back, losing only 27 games the rest of the year.
Then of course they were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Astros. But it was a helluva run that came out of nowhere. Maybe history will repeat, though it would help to have a Charlie Thomas, the minor league journeyman who hit .288 with a .813 OPS in 83 games for the ’04 Braves before being traded in the offseason to Oakland along with Juan Cruz for Tim Hudson.