Game Number Eighty-Seven Final: New York Mets 5; Atlanta Braves 7.
And we’re off. The second half of the Mets’ season kicked off Friday night against an old southern rival. The Atlanta Braves started the evening in second place of the N.L. East, one half-game over the Mets. While the Amazins are trying to improve their standing in Atlanta before facing the first place Nationals beginning this Monday.
In the visitor’s first at-bat, Ruben Tejada led off the game with a single. He advanced to second base on Daniel Murphy’s ground out to second. Tim Hudson then hit David Wright with a pitch, setting up clean-up hitter, Ike Davis, with runners on first and second, with one out. But Tim Hudson induced the Mets’ first baseman into a 6-4-3 double play to end the top half of the first inning.
In the bottom half of the first inning, Chris Young encountered trouble right away. Braves’ lead-off hitter Michael Bourn, promptly doubled to center field. Martin Prado moved him over to third with a ground ball to Daniel Murphy at second. However, Daniel Murphy could do little with his second consecutive chance when number three hitter Jason Heyward tapped a dribbler his way, and reached safely. Michael Bourn scored on the play giving the Braves the initial lead. Jason Heyward then stole second base (off Chris Young), but that mattered not. Chris Young proceeded to walk Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman to load the bases. After Dan Uggla fouled out to David Wright for the second out, Chris Young walked David Ross to force in the Braves second run of the inning, giving Atlanta an early 2-0 lead.
Tim Hudson put the Mets down quietly in the second, but not before the power went out in Turner Field. Lucas Duda led off with a grounder to first. After Scott Hairston followed with a single, Tim Hudson caught Kirk Nieuwenhuis looking at strike three. Then, with Josh Thole up, the power failed, delaying the game for sixteen minutes. Once play resumed, Tim Hudson finished off Josh Thole on a swinging strike three.
Chris Young appeared more settled in his second inning of work. He faced the minimum three batters, as the Mets turned a nice double play, completed with sweet scoop by Ike Davis at first. Tim Hudson reciprocated the effort by retiring the Mets in order in the top of the third.
But seemingly battling himself more so than the Braves, Chris Young’s troubles returned in the home third. With one out, Chipper Jones doubled to left, and Freddie Freeman followed with a single to right. After Dan Uggla fouled out again with a runner in scoring position, David Ross crushed a Chris Young offering many rows back into the left field seats. Ross’ three run home run gave the Braves a 5-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, the second time around the order started yielding results. The resilient Mets began chipping away at Tim Hudson and that five run lead. David Wright led off with a double. After an Ike Davis ground out, and a walk to Lucas Duda, Scott Hairston drove in Wright from second base with a double to left. Kirk Nieuwenhuis then stepped in against Hudson, and delivered a crisp hit to the opposite field. Duda and Hairston both scored on the play. Josh Thole lined a come-backer off Hudson which moved Nieuwenhuis to third base. It was at this point, Coach Terry decided Chris Young’s night was through. The Mets’ manager lifted Young for a pinch-hitter; Jordany Valdespin; who popped out to second for out number two. Ruben Tejada then stepped in and cut the Braves’ lead to one. In a season in which they’ve had so many clutch hits, Ruben delivered yet another two-out RBI for the Mets, making it a 5-4 game.
Chris Young lasted three innings. He surrendered six hits, and allowed five earned runs. He walked three, struck out two, and allowed one home run. His seventy-one pitch effort earned him his third loss (2-3) of the season, and raised his ERA to a 4.28 mark.
Miguel Batista was first out of the Mets’ pen. He walked four batters in 1.1 innings of work, and surrendered one hit and no runs. But only because in the Braves’ fifth, Josh Edgin pitched Batista, and the Mets, out of a huge jam. After recording the first out, Batista walked the bases loaded and was pulled in favor the Mets’ most recent call-up. Making his first ever Major League appearance, Josh was thrown right into the fire, and responded. He struck out pinch-hitter, Juan Francisco swinging, and struck out Michael Bourn swinging as well, to close out the fifth inning.
But in the sixth inning, Atlanta tagged the rookie. Certain future Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, gave Josh Edin his own personal welcome to the big leagues, by homering off the kid to left field. When Freddie Freeman followed with another double, Coach Terry summoned Ramon Ramirez to relieve Edgin. Dan Uggla delivered a single off Ramirez to score Freeman, giving Atlanta a 7-4 lead.
All the Mets could muster the rest of the way against Atlanta’s bullpen was a run in the eighth, when Andres Torres’ single to right scored Ronny Cedeno, who had previously doubled deep into the left-center field gap.
The best managerial decision of the game was made by Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez, for pulling Tim Hudson after just two batters in the fifth. Against the Braves bullpen, the Mets mustered little. The Mets managed just three hits and one run in five innings off Braves’ relievers. In the fifth inning, the Mets had first and second against Tim Hudson with no outs. That’s when Coach Gonzalez made his move. He summoned Cristhian Martinez from his pen. Martinez walked Duda to load the bases. He then struck out Scott Hairston and Kirk Nieuwenhuis consecutively, and retired Josh Thole on a fly to center. There’s your difference in the game.
The Mets were four for twelve with runners in scoring position, and left ten runners on base. For the game, they totalled eleven hits, three for extra-bases, but with no home runs. With two hits in four at-bats, David Wright’s batting average sits at the .353 mark, good for second overall in MLB behind Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen.
As a result of Friday night’s loss, the Mets’ record drops to 46-41, and they slip to 5 1/2 games behind the Nationals. Game Two of this three game series will be a late Saturday afternoon affair.