Tag: braves

Mets Game 33: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 7

You can’t say the Mets didn’t fight back.

They erased three leads by Braves during the ballgame, but couldn’t convert a fourth, as Atlanta outlasted the Mets in a dozen innings.

The Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, but the Mets tied it up in the bottom half. Then the Braves scored another pair in the third, but the Mets answered in the fourth with a Fernando Tatis grand slam to go up by two. The Braves scratched out one run in three of the next four innings to take the lead again, but the Mets came right back and tied it up in the bottom of the eighth. The games stayed that way until the 12th inning, when Martin Prado blasted a solo homer off losing pitcher Ken Takahashi. Unfortunately, the Mets were out of comeback juice for the day and thus the final score.

Notes

The Mets did rally in the bottom of the 12th, as Jose Reyes hit a leadoff double and was sacrificed to third by Luis Castillo. However, he was left stranded there as both Carlos Beltran and Gary Sheffield whiffed.

In a mysterious move, Bobby Cox removed starting pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes in the fourth inning with no outs, the bases loaded, and a two-run lead. Reyes wasn’t injured and had thrown 56 pitches. I guess Cox was just tired of seeing him out there. Even more curious was the choice of his replacement, Buddy Carlyle, who came into the game with a 1.80 WHIP. Why would you bring into a bases-loaded situation, a reliever who allows almost two baserunners an inning? As it was, Tatis sent Carlyle’s second pitch into dead center, just barely clearing the wall. Even the homerun apple was stunned by the series of decisions, as it stayed parked underneath and didn’t pop out to celebrate the grand salami.

Tatis was red-hot in this game, with three hits. Reyes had three hits of his own and a walk. Gary Sheffield also blistered the ball a few times, with one of his rockets going over the left field wall for his second homer of the season.

Jonathan Niese started the game and looked good. Unfortunately, looking good and performing well did not go hand-in-hand. At times, he appeared to have the Braves off-balance, but in the end he couldn’t get his big curveball into the strike zone, and was inconsistent with his change-up, so the Braves were sitting on his fastball. I don’t doubt he’ll be a decent pitcher some day, but he has a long way to go toward honing his craft. He’ll be best served in AAA, learning to perfect his secondary pitches. No need to demolish his confidence in MLB once Tim Redding comes off the DL.

Chipper Jones was intentionally walked twice, but that didn’t stop the man behind him — Garret Anderson — from driving in three runs on three hits and a sac fly.

J.J. Putz struck out two in the eighth, but also gave up two doubles and the tying run. Despite his claim that he’s been feeling “fatigued”, Jerry Manuel said on WFAN yesterday that Putz is “fine” and that “no one is being overused”. Perhaps Putz’s fatigue is due to an airborne illness or something else completely unrelated to his game participation.

Next Mets Game

The Mets begin a long West Coast swing tomorrow night in San Francisco. John Maine goes against Jonathan Sanchez in a 10:15 PM EST start.

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Mets Game 32: Win Over Braves

Mets 4 Braves 3

Though it wasn’t quite as impressive as the first seven innings of the opener, game two also delivered an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.

Mike Pelfrey and Jair Jurrjens set down batters like bowling pins for the bulk of the game, and by the time both exited their numbers were similar. Jurrjens allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk through 7 2/3 innings, and Pelfrey nearly matched that performance — two earned runs on six hits and a walk in 7 innings. He had three two-inning outings in 2006.

However, after the starters exited, the contest became a battle of the bullpens. And in the end, it was awful pitching that decided the game.

After showing some METtle and fighting back to tie the game, the Mets won the game in the tenth inning on a walk-off walk with the bases loaded.

Braves reliever Jeff Bennett got two very quick outs before Jose Reyes hustled out an infield single. Then, concerned with the speedy Reyes at first, Bennett made the mistake of using the slide-step for his first two pitches to Alex Cora, and fell behind 2-0. On the third pitch, he used his regular motion and got a strike, but that was the one Reyes chose to steal on and took second base easily. (Note to the kids: scrap the slide step — it almost never works). Already down in the count 2-1 and Reyes standing on second, Bobby Cox made the next nonsensical but universally accepted move of intentionally walking Cora to create a force. As if on cue, Bennett then walked Ramon Castro, creating zero room for error, and proceeded to walk Carlos Beltran on six pitches to force in Reyes and give the game to the Mets.

Bad decisions, bad baseball, but the in the end the Mets take the game. Five years ago it would’ve been the Mets walking three straight batters with two outs and giving the game to the Braves.

Francisco Rodriguez collected the win with a two-inning effort.

Notes

Can anyone explain why Mike Pelfrey was removed from the game prior to the 8th inning after 95 pitches and his spot in the order nowhere close to coming up? Despite the two runs scratched out by the Braves, Big Pelf was hurling a brilliant game, and seemed to be more dominant as the game went on. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

K-Rod hadn’t pitched more than one inning in any regular-season MLB game since 2007. He pitched four outs or more eight times that year, and two full innings four times.

K-Rod and J.J. Putz combined for 49 pitches in the game. I imagine that neither will be available for Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Alex Cora was moved to first base in the tenth inning — a position he’s played only one other time in his MLB career — and used a fielder’s glove rather than a first baseman’s mitt.

Jerry Manuel stunned Bobby Cox by pinch-hitting Gary Sheffield for Danny Murphy after Cox brought in LOOGY Eric O’Flaherty in the eighth. Cox obviously read the scouting reports detailing Manuel and the Mets’ over the top opinion of the young lefthanded hitter. Sheffield was equally shocked — so shocked that he forgot to run to first on the grounder he hit to Casey Kotchman.

The Mets did not put a leadoff batter on base until the eighth inning, when Jeremy Reed ripped a single up the middle.

Speaking of Reed, how can you keep him out of the lineup? His defense is stellar (other than a poorly played line drive off the bat of Yunel Escobar) and he’s hitting the ball all over the place — just as he did in spring training. He does everything — fields, throws, hits, and runs — yet the Mets insist on making sure the one-dimensional Danny Murphy plays as often as possible. Go figure.

And speaking of Escobar, had he run hard out of the box on that line drive, he would’ve had a standup triple. If I’m Bobby Cox, I’m ripping into him in the clubhouse after the game and sitting him down for a game.

And speaking of Wednesday’s game, I’ll be there with my dad, a combination birthday/father’s day present. If you are also attending, send me an email and maybe we can meet at the Big Apple Beers stand for a beverage.

Next Mets Game

The Mets close out the series and their homestand with an afternoon game that begins at 1:10 PM. Jonathan Niese pitches against Jo-Jo Reyes.

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Mets Game 31: Loss to Braves

Braves 8 Mets 3

Start a new streak tomorrow.

The Mets’ seven-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of Derek Lowe and the Braves, though you couldn’t fault Johan Santana. For the second time this season, the Mets lost a game in which Santana allowed ZERO earned runs. Ouch.

It was a classic pitcher’s duel through the first six frames, with each team scratching out a run. In the seventh, though, Johan blinked, Kelly Johnson singled, and next thing you know Bobby Parnell is on the mound. A few minutes, two more pitching changes, and a Jose Reyes error later, and the Mets were down 5-1. Poof.

Notes

Not much to say. Johan Santana was very good, once again, but couldn’t stay in the game long enough to win. The Mets’ offense was impotent against the sinkerballing Derek Lowe, against whom they’ve historically hit well. Maybe it’s the uniform.

Why wasn’t Gary Sheffield in the starting lineup? He’s pasted Lowe in his career, to the tune of .471 AVG. and 1.415 OPS. By himself he may not have made a difference … but maybe, just maybe, he would’ve driven in a run early in the game — which could have drastically changed the way the 7th inning was handled.

I did like seeing Jeremy Reed get a start, though, in right field. Reed went 2-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .353 in limited duty this season — not far off from the big numbers he put up during spring training.

Fernando Tatis also had two hits, scored twice, and drove in a run, filling in for the injured Carlos Delgado. He’s hitting .356.

The other two runs were driven in by Omir Santos, who refuses to fall down to Earth and is now hitting .302.

With Tatis and Reed in the lineup, where would you have put Sheffield? How about left field? How about not worrying about the lefty-righty thing for once and just going with the raw numbers?

By the way, it’s possible that Delgado is out until the weekend, or goes on the DL. His hip is barking.

The Mets were sloppy on the field, a carryover from the Pittsburgh series that wasn’t noticeable while scoring 7-10 runs a game against the Buccos. Both David Wright and Jose Reyes committed key errors, and the cutoff man was overthrown by Carlos Beltran and Danny Murphy.

The Braves used regular setup man Rafael Soriano in the 8th, but did not burn through their closer. In lieu of Mike Gonzalez, Bobby Cox had Buddy Carlyle finish the game.

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves do it again at 7:10 PM. Mike Pelfrey faces Jair Jurrjens.

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Mets – Braves Quick Preview

braves-57-logoDon’t look now, but the Mets who couldn’t get out of their own way a little over a week ago have ripped off seven straight wins and eight of their last ten. They’re 11-6 at home and one game in front of the Phillies as the NL East leaders. Meanwhile, the Braves oftentimes resemble a minor league team, and struggling to win 50% of thei ballgames. This three-game set should establish a wide chasm between these two clubs that has not existed since the late 1980s.

Game one: Johan Santana (4-1, 0.91 ERA) vs. Derek Lowe (4-1, 3.98 ERA)

We all wanted Derek Lowe in orange and blue this year, but the Braves stole him away to be their ace. However, this matchup of “aces” is a no-contest. Santana is not having just a Cy Young year so far, he’s making a case for MVP. Yeah, it’s early, but Santana has been outstanding. If only he had the chutzpah to pitch past the seventh inning, we might consider mentioning him in the same breath with Tom Terrific. But hey, who needs to pitch past the seventh when you have J.J. Putz and K-Rod closing games for you (oops).

If there’s any concern for the Mets in this game, it is the fact that Chipper Jones (.455), Brian McCann (.385), and Kelly Johnson (.429) all historically hit well against Santana. But, Jones is not 100%, McCann just came off the DL with eye issues, and Johnson has been slumping all year.

On the flip side, Carlos Delgado is .308 lifetime against Lowe, and Gary Sheffield is a scorching 8-for-17 (.471) with a 1.415 OPS lifetime vs. Lowe. He best be in the lineup tonight.

Game two: Mike Pelfrey (4-0, 5.46 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (3-2, 2.01 ERA)

I like this matchup in that it pits two young pitchers who are going well right now, throw a lot of strikes, and are at similar points in their career. On any given day, either Pelfrey or Jurrjens can throw an absolute gem … and each seems to have matured to the point where you’re almost guaranteed to see a quality start at minimum. Though Big Pelf’s ERA is twice that of Jurrjens’, he’s pitched very well in his last three starts, and appears to be getting better as the season progresses. I don’t see him having a problem with the Braves’ unusually undisciplined lineup.

Game three: Jonathan Niese (0-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Jo-Jo Reyes (0-2, 5.48 ERA)

Niese looked good in his first MLB start of 2009, but it was against a very bad Pittsburgh Pirates lineup — one that may not have been any better than he’d faced in AAA. Reyes is evovling into an eternal enigma, a hard-throwing lefty with great stuff who can be effectively wild (can you say “Oliver Perez”?). This game is an absolute tossup — Reyes could no-hit the Mets through 8, or he could be out of the game by the 8th hitter he faces. Conversely, Niese should be able to give the Mets at least five decent innings, and if his curveball is on, could give the Braves’ lefty-heavy lineup fits.

Closing Thoughts

Brian McCann and Garrett Anderson are back from the DL, but Chipper Jones may be out a game or two with a hyperextended elbow, so Bobby Cox may not have his full lineup. When these two teams squared away last week, Atlanta looked like an underwhelming ballclub with weak fundamentals that might struggle to win 80 games this year. Assuming that remains the case, the Mets should plow through them once again and take at least two. Who knows, they may just sweep them.

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Link Roundup

Adam Rubin has a Mets-Phillies series preview chock full of stats.

Toasty Joe reworked an open letter to Mets fans originally written by a Philly journalist. Joe wrote it last Saturday but it is still relevant … and hilarious.

Another link I’m late to, but is remarkably also relevant, is a video of Chan Ho Park’s first pitch as a Met, posted by Loge 13. Sends chills down my spine.

Phillies Flow points out that the Philly offense is so far averaging 5.87 runs per game — about a run better than they did in 2008.

The Fightin’ Phils posted a video of a not-so-nice “Meet the Mets” remix. Caution: not for all audiences.

Rowland’s Office notices, as I did, that this year’s Braves are not what you expect from a Bobby Cox team, and asks if it’s time for the iconic manager to go.

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Mets Game 25: Win Over Braves

Mets 4 Braves 3

This game was a lot closer than it should’ve been.

The truth is, the Mets should have won this game by at least six or seven runs — maybe nine or ten.

You don’t like my “negative” take? Feel free to pick up your pom-poms and move on to another Mets blog. We’re keeping it real here.

When Livan Hernandez gives you a remarkably efficient 6 1/3 innings, your offense has runners in scoring position in each of the first four frames, and pounds Braves pitching for 11 hits and 5 walks over the course of the game, you should win big. Real big. But then, that might be presumptuous on my part. (I’ve been known to be that way.)

Instead, the Mets and Braves were neck and neck through eight innings, with the Mets up by one, then a Pony League team put on the Atlanta uniforms and took the field in the final frame. The kid in Chipper Jones’ jersey threw away a terrible bunt by Danny Murphy, the punk in Yunel Escobar’s uni didn’t cover second as Murphy took second on the overthrow, and some scrawny teeny bopper on the mound allowed Carlos Delgado to hit a 19-hopper through a drawn-in infield to plate two runners.

At the time, those two seemed like meaningless “insurance runs”, since the Mets had Frankie Rodriguez coming into the game to slam the door.

But when K-Rod allowed two hits and a walk, and Carlos Delgado dropped a routine pop fly, the Braves scored two runs and were suddenly back in the game — with men on first and third and career Mets killer Chipper Jones at the plate. Luckily, Jones lined out to right field to end the game — but it easily could have been a disaster of a loss.

Game Notes

A little surprising to see Livan leave the game in the seventh after giving up a single and a walk and the bottom of the Braves order coming to the plate. He had thrown only 74 pitches and seemed to have earned the right to work out of his own mess — he’d wiggled out of a few similar situations earlier in the game with ground ball double plays. But Jerry Manuel played it by the book, and brought in fireballer Bobby Parnell to get swings and misses. Parnell did strike out pinch-hitter Greg Norton, but gave up a run-scoring double to Martin Prado. The run was charged to Hernandez.

J.J. Putz threw 19 pitches in a scoreless 8th inning. He threw 20 in Tuesday’s game, and 70 total pitches in the first five days of this month. He had a similar workload just prior to blowing a save against the Marlins on April 29th.

Rodriguez also threw quite a few pitches — 28. He only threw 11, though, on Tuesday. But he’s only 7 tosses behind Putz for the month. Just sayin’.

During the SNY broadast, Keith Hernandez was harping on the fact that the Braves pitchers were continually throwing to the outside part of the plate. Keith seemed astounded by this strategy. I’m guessing he didn’t cover many games when Leo Mazzone was the Atlanta pitching coach — it was his prescribed modus operandi for, oh, about a decade and a half.

For the record, I’m not a fan of pounding the outside part of the plate either, and agree with Keith that pitchers today need to throw inside more often. But it shouldn’t be surprising that the Braves are trying to live off the outside part of the plate.

The Mets left 12 runners on base in this game.

Carlos Beltran hit in his 16th consecutive game, collected two safeties, and is back over .400.

David Wright also had two knocks, and somehow is back over .300. How does he do that? He’s the only guy I know who can “struggle” and be “in a slump” and still be right around .290 – .300.

The long, long, looooooooooong stroke of Ramon Castro was good enough for three hits and an RBI in this game. He’s 7 for his last 16, though I imagine you can attribute that to Jerry Manuel lighting a fire under him.

Next Mets Game

The Mets scamper back to Flushing for another quickie series, playing two games against the first-place Phillies. Johan Santana takes the mound against Chan Ho Park at 7:10 PM in a contest that the Mets should win with their eyes closed.

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Mets Game 24: Win Over Braves

Mets 6 Braves 4

For once, the Mets displayed some “edge”, as well as some moxie, in coming back to beat the Braves in the later innings after falling behind early.

And David Wright, of all people, was the one to deliver the go-ahead bomb.

The Braves jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, and Javy Vazquez set down the Mets like bowling pins for the better part of five innings. In the sixth, however, things changed, as Danny Murphy led off with a single and scored on a two-run homer by Carlos Beltran. A few minutes later, Wright blasted his four-bagger, pushing Carlos Delgado home with him to give the Mets a 4-3 lead.

Beltran popped another 2-run dinger in 7th to put the game away, and the bullpen that leads the NL in ERA cashed in the win.

John Maine barely pitched well enough to win, and was the recipient of the victory. Frankie Rodriguez notched his sixth save of the year and second of the month.

Game Notes

Though Maine struck out 7 and gave up only 3 hits and 3 earned runs, his command was awful — he walked 6 and might have walked more if not for the free-swinging of rookies Jordan Schafer and Brandon Jones, among others. Maine was consistently high and away to lefties, the same symptom of a mechanical flaw we’ve been talking about for nearly a year. It’s stunning to me that he can continue to do the same wrong thing, every time out, and no one in the Mets organization can seem to figure it out. Did the Wilpons cut video equipment from the 2009 budget with everything else?

During the TV broadcast, and using SNY’s slow-motion technology, Keith Hernandez pointed out:

“watch his throwing arm come back, look how far it comes back, and he has to … behind his body on the first base side … whoa!”

As if on cue, Maine released the ball early and high, and sent the pitch way up and away from a left-handed batter — so far, in fact, it resembled Nuke LaLoosh hitting the bull.

A few minutes prior, Kevin Burkhardt reported that Maine said he hasn’t felt like himself since the last game before the All Star break in 2007.

DOES NO ONE READ METSTODAY ??????!!!!!!

The intelligent Mets fans — you, of course — know we identified Maine’s mechanical flaw last June. Remarkably enough, it is the exact same issue that Keith Hernandez began to illustrate during the broadcast. To quote Mel Allen: how about that?

After closer analysis, and comparison to that July 5, 2007 game, I found one or two other seemingly minor issues with Maine’s mechanics that can be easily corrected. If his agent doesn’t email me for the details, I’ll post them for all the world to see later in the week.

David Wright’s go-ahead homer drove in the 500th and 501st RBI of his career.

Jose Reyes blew another sacrifice bunt, for the second time in as many games. Shame on him, because a ballplayer should be able to put down a bunt when needed. However, I’m not sure I get it … you wouldn’t have Carlos Beltran or David Wright bunt, ever, because of their ability to drive in a runner from first with a double or HR. Likewise, why would you have Reyes bunt, a guy who can send a runner from first home with a double, HR, or triple? Mind you, I’m a big-time, old-school, small-ball guy. But at the same time I realize that the sac bunt should be reserved for players who generally have lower slugging percentages — i.e., the pitchers, Alex Coras, and Luis Castillos of the world.

What happened to the old Bobby Cox Braves teams with disciplined hitters, sure fielders, and players with perfect fundamentals — the ones that used to bore you into a loss? It appears they have several youngsters rushed to the bigs who need more seasoning in the minors. Not the “Braves’ Way”.

Hey, the Mets can’t lose this series!

Next Mets Game

The Mets and Braves lock horns for the series finale at 7:00 PM. Livan Hernandez faces Kenshin Kawakami. I like the Mets’ chances in this matchup.

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5 Things You Should Know About the Braves

braves-capInsulated by our New York cocoon, we may not know what exactly is going on with the Braves — outside of what we can glean from the stat lines and the ESPN highlights. So, we’ve called on Mac Thomasonfrom BravesJournal.com to give us a quick update on the Atlanta Nine.

1. Vazquez vs. Maine & Kawakami vs. Hernandez : how are you liking / not liking these matchups?

I like the first one a whole lot. Vazquez has looked good in all his starts (he lost his last one, but that was due to a fluke inning) and is among the league leaders in strikeouts, while Maine has struggled this year. Of course, he’ll be facing the Braves offense, which is a heck of an equalizer right now. The second, by all rights, should be a game where each team uses about six pitchers, but given the Braves’ offensive strugges I can’t too optimistic. Although Braves fans still remember 1997, in the regular season Livan is 3-15 against Atlanta with a 5.52 ERA, so thanks to Jerry Manuel for pushing Santana back.

2. Jordan Schafer: the real deal?

I think so. He’s an odd player, a guy who walks a lot and strikes out a lot, but who has only midrange power. I don’t care about the strikeouts the way some do, but it’s hard to maintain a good batting average when you strike out nearly a third of the time.

3. As a Braves fan, do you care much / worry about the Mets? What team in the NL East concerns you most / do you see as the favorite and why?

To be honest, I think the Phillies are the team to beat. They’re the champs, they’ve won the division the last two years, and they’re right in the race (ahead of both the Braves and the Mets) despite not really playing their best ball yet.

4. Braves’ biggest issue thus far is … ?

Lack of power on offense. The Braves are sixth in the NL in OBP, but eleventh in runs scored, largely because they’re tenth in slugging and thirteenth in home runs. Nobody on the team has more than three homers, and the leading slugger among the regulars is Chipper at .456. (Actually, Dave Ross, who is filling in for McCann, is slugging .543. He usually hits eighth.) The most-usual cleanup hitter with McCann out is Casey Kotchman, who hasn’t hit a home run this year.

5. One thing about the Braves this year that a Mets fan might not know ?

The Braves, despite their offensive struggles, have probably the second-best strikeout/walk ratio in the league. They’re third in walks, third from last in strikeouts. The Mets, however, are second and second from last…

Thanks to Mac, who keeps regular tabs on the Braves at BravesJournal.com. Be sure to check it out.

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