Mets 3 Braves 1
Suddenly, things are looking up.
The Mets beat the Braves for the second consecutive time and simultaneously won their second straight series on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Flushing.
Jon Niese pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and 5 walks, striking out 6 and expending 116 pitches. Considering that the SNY crew labeled his previous start as “outstanding”, I guess this one would qualify as “spectacular”. If he does any better, I guess we’ll have to call it “legendary”. Maybe I’m getting old and ornery, but in my day, such superlatives were reserved for, well, more superb performances.
Jason Bay is clearly out of his slump — he went 3-for-4 with a double and a sac fly for an RBI. Bay’s 3 hits accounted for more than half of the Mets’ total for the game (5).
Jeff Francoeur lashed an RBI double for the game-winning hit in the 7th, and had a key assist earlier in the game to end an Atlanta rally.
Yunel Escobar was the dunce that allowed Francoeur to get that assist. Standing on third with one out, Escobar did not tag up on a deep fly to right by Troy Glaus. However, the man on second — Martin Prado — did tag, and got caught in a rundown between second and third while Escobar scrambled back to 3B and tried to score. It wasn’t even close.
Bobby Cox will definitely be retiring after this season — maybe before the All-Star Break — if the Braves continue to display such awful fundamentals. I would not be surprised to see Escobar benched on Sunday, though he’s not the only culprit. Overall, the Braves are nowhere near the rock-solid executioners they were in their heyday, which must drive Cox crazy but also severely damage his pride.
Larry Jones was not chipper on his (and Pat Zachry’s) birthday — he struck out looking twice on back-door curveballs from Niese and left the ballgame with a sore hip. Glass Jones’ sporadic availability combined with the Braves’ poor execution will be Atlanta’s downfall in 2010.
Henry Blanco drove in the insurance run in the seventh with a short fly ball to left, but more importantly, he stole a base — his first since little league. OK, I’m exaggerating … Blanco last recorded a stolen base in 2001. Seriously.
Former Brave Manny Acosta threw 1 2/3 innings of nearly perfect relief, striking out 3 and walking one. I’ve decided he’s the 2010 version of Jorge Sosa: a slider machine who can also throw a fairly hard and straight fastball, and will do well over a short span of time. That said, I’m OK with Jerry Manuel running him out there until the hitters figure him out.
Speaking of the Smartest Manager in Baseball, Jerry Manuel won his second consecutive game using the brilliant strategy of Jose Reyes in the 3-hole. You can’t argue with success, so don’t even try. I especially like the idea of batting Alex Cora second, so that Reyes has the opportunity to hit without the distraction of a runner on base — it’s kind of like he’s always leading off.
Jose Reyes, by the way, went 0-for-2 with 2 walks, a run scored, and a stolen base in the three spot.
David Wright looks terrible at the plate. He seems to be using a different stance every time up, and he’s taking huge swings at the ball. Usually when Wright is in a slump, he’s still around .280-.290. He’s currently hovering at .230. Color me concerned.
With this win, the Mets have sent the Braves to the basement and are now tied for third place with the Washington Nationals. If that’s not reason to believe I don’t know what is.
Next Mets Game
The final game of the series — which at this point is moot — will be played at 8:05 PM on Sunday night. Mike Pelfrey faces Tommy Hanson in what could be a very interesting matchup. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.