After enjoying Thursday off, the Mets arrived at their second destination during this quick two city trip through the south. New York began a three game set in Atlanta Friday evening against the N.L. East leading Braves. Shaun Marcum climbed the hill for New York versus Atlanta’s Mike Minor.
The Mets immediately staked Marcum to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Ruben Tejada led-off the game by depositing a bloop into shallow right field which Tejada hustled into a double. After Daniel Murphy popped up, and David Wright lined to short, catcher John Buck jerked the first pitch he saw from Minor into the left field seats for his tenth home run of the season. In the third inning, Lucas Dudasmacked another Michael Minor offering into the left field seats to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.
Shaun Marcum walked the very first batter he faced, lead-off hitter Jordan Schafer, but was erased when Andrelton Simmons bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. Marcum then retired his next five batters, picking up two strikeouts in the second. Shaun surrendered his first hit of the evening, a double to Braves’ center fielder B.J. Upton leading off the home third. Upton promptly scored on third baseman Juan Francisco‘s RBI single that scooted just beyond a diving Murphy. After getting sacrificed over to second base, Francisco was picked-off when batter Michael Minor missed a bunt attempt, and Francisco apparently twisted an ankle while planting his foot. John Buck easily threw to Tejada who applied the put-out. The play took a runner out of scoring position and effectively ended Atlanta’s threat. Juan Francisco left the game and was replaced at third base by Ramiro Pena.
Shaun Marcum struck out Justin Upton leading off the bottom of the fourth. Freddie Freeman then hit a good low breaking pitch by Marcum into right field for a single. Up next, catcher Evan Gattis became Marcum’s fourth strikeout victim, for out number two. Daniel Murphy then made a marvelous back-hand play going to his right on a Dan Uggla bouncer, pivoted around, and threw in time to a stretching Justin Turner at first base for out number three.
Through 4 1/2 innings Michael Minor retired twelve straight batters, and limited the Mets to just three hits. Leading off the bottom of the fifth, B.J. Upton laced the first pitch he saw from Shaun Marcum into left field for a single. Ramiro Pena followed with an excuse-me base hit to left, setting up runners on first and second with no outs, and the pitcher Minor due up. Michael Minor placed down a bunt, but Marcum was like a cat off the mound. He scooped the ball quickly and nailed the lead runner Upton at third base for the first out of the inning. With the double-play in order, and the lead-off batter up, Marcum ran a full count on Schafer, and lost him to reload the bases with one out. Marcum got away with a high breaking ball with his first offering to the next batter Andrelton Simmons. But on the very next pitch, Simmons poked a flair to right, which delivered Atlanta’s second run of the evening. That instigated a trip to the hill from Coach Collins to remove his starting pitcher.
LaTroy Hawkins took over with the bases loaded and one out, and faced Justin Upton, who hit LaTroy’s first offering to the opposite field warning track in right. The pitcher, Michael Minor tagged-up from third and scored, as the runners from second and first tagged as well. Ponderous! LaTroy Hawkins then fanned Freddie Freeman to finally end Atlanta’s rally. The game was now tied 3-3 after five full innings. Shaun Marcum left the game after eighty-seven pitches. In 4.1 total innings pitched, he was charged with three earned runs, on six hits, and issued three walks. He struck out four batters and walked off the mound with a 7.20 earned run average and a no-decision.
In the sixth inning, Michael Minor continued to retire the Mets in order. The last batter to hit, or reach safely was Lucas Duda in the second inning. Minor was now up to fifteen straight batters, and capped off the sixth by fanning David Wright on three pitches. In the seventh inning, Minor struck out two more Mets batters. In seven full innings pitched, Minor allowed three earned runs on just three hits. He walked one batter and struck out four before exiting on the winning side of the game.
In the home seventh inning, Ramiro Pena worked out a lead-off walk against Scott Atchison, now pitching in relief of LaTroy Hawkins. A wild pitch by Atchison got by John Buck to put Ramiro Pena at third. Jordan Schafer worked out his fourth walk of the evening, to set up first and third with one out. The Braves then took a 4-3 lead when the Mets couldn’t turn a 5-4-3 double play. The ball grounded by Andrelton Simmons just wasn’t hit hard enough to make it around the horn in time. David Wright may have been better off throwing home on the play. Replays showed Wright had a decent chance to nail the lead runner.
First out of Atlanta’s bullpen in relief of Michael Minor came Eric O’Flaherty. His first batter of the eighth inning was Marlon Byrd, who quickly lofted an opposite field home run to tie the game at four. That incidentally was the Mets first hit since Lucas Duda’s blast in the second inning. But in the bottom of the frame, Evan Gattis crushed his seventh home run of the season to dead center field off Brandon Lyon, giving the Braves a 5-4 lead again. After Dan Uggla singled to left off Brandon Lyon’s second pitch of the inning, B.J. Upton bounced in a 5-4-3 double play.
In the visitor’s ninth, the Mets faced Atlanta’s closer extraordinaire, Craig Kimbrel. Daniel Muprhy was first up, and struck out on three pitches. David Wright was next, and took a wild pitch for ball one, then took two home run swings and missed two fastballs. After taking ball two, David Wright crushed Craig Kimbrel’s next offering deep to right center field for a game tying home run. Kimbrel then struck out John Buck and pinch-hitter Ike Davis to end the inning.
In the home ninth inning, Brandon Lyon got into trouble right away when Ramiro Pena led off with a double to right, and was pushed over to third with a sacrifice bunt. That prompted another visit to the mound by Coach Collins – there went Lyons, and in came Bobby Parnell. When play resumed, Ramiro Pena failed to tag up on a shallow fly to center field by Jordan Schafer, in which Marlon Byrd made a one hop throw to the plate. With two outs, Andrelton Simmons worked out a walk, but not before John Buck kept the runner on third from scoring by blocking a errant pitch in the dirt. With runners on first and third, Justin Upton stepped in. Terry Collins was faced with a choice. Do you walk Upton to load bases, or not? Terry did not. He let Parnell face Justin Upton with Freddie Freeman on deck. Upton grounded to Wright who threw to first, and into extra innings they went.
In the top of the tenth, Jordany Valdespin drew a two out walk against Jordan Walden, now pitching in relief of Kimbrel. Terry Collins allowed Bobby Parnell to take his at-bat. After Valdespin immediately stole second, Collins pulled Parnell and pinch-hit Mike Baxter with a runner in scoring position. Terry Collins’ thinking was clear – let Valdespin attempt a steal, and if thrown out, Parnell is still in the game. Mike Baxter was then hit by a pitch. Ruben Tejada batted next, and served a flat breaking pitch to center field for a single, scoring Valdespin from second base, and giving the Mets a 6-5 lead. Daniel Murphy then followed with a great piece of hitting, going low to get a another breaking pitch, and lining it to center to score Baxter with the Mets seventh run.
In the bottom of the frame, Atlanta’s last licks were opposed by Jeurys Familia. The Mets youngster retired the Braves in order, striking out Dan Uggla to end the game. Mets win. They win!
Bobby Parnell earned his second (2-0) win in relief. Familia earned his first save of the season, and the first of his career.
- After blowing a 3-0 lead, and getting stymied by Mike Minor over his last five innings, the Mets undressed Atlanta’s vaunted bullpen to the tune of four hits, and four earned runs; two being home runs.
- Defense – I really believe defense kept the Mets in this game. They committed no errors. The field gems were led by Murphy’s back-hand play, Marlon Byrd’s accurate throw to the plate, Shaun Marcum pouncing on a bunt and throwing out the lead runner at third, three key double plays, and John Buck’s overall play behind the plate. His block of an errant pitch in the ninth prevented a runner on third from scoring, as he did about three or four other times in the game with runners on base. Although Juan Rodriguez was dead on a pick-off, eliminating that runner from second base carried a ton of weight late into the game.
- Terry Collins was el brujo – the witch, or in this case, the wizard. Between pinch-hitters and pitching changes, to his clever move letting Parnell bat, in addition to not walking Upton to load the bases – Collins showed a lot of cojones on Tres de Mayo. He gets a game ball.
- LaTroy Hawkins- nice work. He pitched 1.2 innings, allowed a hit, no runs, and fanned two.
- Jordany Valdespin – continues to make things happen off the bench.
- Jeurys Familia – looked sharp while earning his first save.
- Offense scored four runs between eighth and tenth innings. Two out hits – John Buck’s home run, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada. David Wright’s home run was right in his wheelhouse, as he crushed it to right/center – that’s when we know he is going well. Four huge, game factoring home runs. Nice!
- I pass. Shaun Marcum even gets honorable mention for four solid innings pitched. Although, I will say, I think he got lucky. He elevated a preponderance of his pitches that should have been crushed. Three walks and six hits in 4.1 innings is begging for a minor league replacement.
- Ike Davis did not start, and struck out miserably in his lone plate appearance.