Game Recap: Bullpen Bends, But Doesn’t Break in 9th for 6-5 Win

By Matt Musico

Jonathon Niese was brilliant in front of the home crowd and in prime time television with the game being aired on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, but it was the bullpen who did their best to practically hand the Braves a sweep of New York at home, which would have been the first time that happened since September 2010.

Mets Offensive Highlights:

Unlike the last time they faced Ben Sheets, New York was able to break through against the right hander, putting up some runs early to give Jonathon Niese a lead to work with. Mike Baxter singled with one out in the bottom of the first, and David Wright drove in his 800th run as a New York Met, lacing a double to right field. He then scored on a single to right field by Ike Davis. They were at it again in the second inning, as Rob Johnson got things started with a one out single. He moved to second on a successful sacrifice bunt by Niese, allowing Ruben Tejada to single him home with the third run of the night. In the fifth inning, it was almost a carbon copy of the first, as Wright doubled, but this time down the left field line, followed by yet another Davis RBI single. Despite looking fooled most of the night, Jordany Valdespin found some lightning in a bottle, as he hit his 8th homer of the year. It was what he did in the eighth that ended up proving to be the difference, as ‘Spin singled and stole second in front of Andres Torres, who drove him in with a single, which ended up being the game-winning run.

Braves Offensive Highlights:

Niese was able to keep the Atlanta offense quiet for most of the night, with the one mistake he made came in the second inning against the hot-hitting Freddie Freeman, who led off the frame with his 15th home run of the season. All looked to be in control for the Mets pitching staff, but Atlanta did their best to put together a game-tying rally in the ninth, and only came up one run short. Chipper Jones started it with a walk, followed by a hit by pitch to Freeman. Paul Janish also walked to load the bases with two outs. Frank Francisco came in and walked Juan Francisco and Michael Bourn, then gave up a two-run double to Martin Prado to bring Atlanta within one. However, their rally wasn’t enough as Jason Heyward struck out with the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.

Pitching Highlights:

Ben Sheets was handed his second loss of the year, as he went 6 innings and gave up 5 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 5. Jonny Venters kept New York quiet in the seventh, but Cristhian Martinez who gave up the critical sixth run of the game in the bottom of the eighth.

Niese cruised through his 8 innings of work, giving up only that 1 run on 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6. He did only have 106 pitches thrown after his night was declared done by Terry Collins, so he could have gone out to get the complete game, but the skipper opted to get his bullpen some work with a big lead….man, what a mistake. The inning featured 4 runs scored on one hit, as Josh Edgin and Frank Francisco combined for 4 walks. Jon Rauch came in and earned his second save of the year with the game-ending strikeout.

New York moves their record back to 55-60, 16 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and 9 games back of the NL Wild Card. Hey, you never know.

Probable Pitchers Tuesday:

After finishing up their home stand, the Mets get Monday off as they prepare to take on the first-place Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ballpark. Chris Young (3-6, 4.87 ERA) will be taking on Mat Latos (10-3, 3.81 ERA). First pitch in Cincy is scheduled for 7:10pm.