Mets Get By the Atlanta Braves to Take Opening Series

For four more innings tonight, the Braves continued to match the vaunted Mets starting staff nearly pitch for pitch.  In the end, the margin was just a couple of hits by the home-standing club.

As nice as it might have been, we didn’t really expect the Atlanta Braves to bludgeon the New York Mets in this inaugural 2017 series.  At the same time, though, the Braves did go toe-to-toe with their best starters and gave them everything they could handle.

New York Mets
Atlanta Braves

It Was A Dark and Foggy Knight

It was Matt Harvey‘s first start and he certainly answered a couple of questions tonight:

  • Has he fully recovered from off-season surgery?
  • Could he sustain early success long enough tonight?

That last bit was important as the Mets literally ran through their entire bullpen last night in the 12-inning Braves’ victory.  But Harvey was equal to the task, going 6 strong innings and giving up just 3 hits.

Of course two of those hits were from the suddenly electric bat of Matt Kemp Both were killed into the seats.

Counting his last at bat of the opening game, Kemp has gone 6 for 10 with 4 doubles and 2 homers.

To say that he’s suddenly hit the switch after a ‘meh’ Spring campaign with these numbers is still somehow under reporting the news.  So here’s some more numbers:

In short, that’s not just hitting a baseball, it’s squaring it up and destroying it.

Now Kemp just needs the rest of the lineup to find a way to get after Met pitchers like Syndergaard, deGrom, and Harvey…. for Kemp was the only real contributor tonight.

They will have a chance to do so again in another 2 weeks as Atlanta makes a return trip to Citi Field on the 25th of April, followed by another series in Atlanta to begin the month of May.  Both teams will thus become very familia(r) with one another over the season’s first 5 weeks.


On the Other Side

Jaime Garcia didn’t have his best stuff tonight – as evidenced by no strikeouts – but he did hold the Mets scoreless for the first 4 innings.

Unfortunately, things unraveled fairly quickly in the 5th.  A Neil Walker single was followed by a walk to Jay Bruce.  With 1 out, Chase d’Arnaud‘s non-musical sibling ran into a Garcia mistake for a double that plated both runners and gave the Mets a 2-1 lead.

Another walk in the 6th to Yoenis Cespedes led to another extra run as Wilmer Flores went deep off another fat pitch.  Garcia did manage to strand Walker on second after a subsequent double, but the totality of results convinced manager Brian Snitker that his starter’s night was done.

Unfortunately, Chaz Roe could not stem the tide in the 7th… though it was a game of inches that did him in.

Michael Conforto was hit by a pitch with one out, though it was more like a grazing bit of contact with his left shoetop… while he didn’t exactly attempt to dance out of the way.

Jose Reyes followed with his first hit of the year, Asdrubel Cabrera added another single via a nice job of situational hitting and a near-double play was thwarted by a wide throw to first base by Dansby Swanson.  6-2.

Once again, it was the little things, and once again, the Braves allowed the Mets to turn small mistakes into big runs.

Give credit to Eric O’Flaherty for a bounce-back outing with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.


Offense Stymied

Other than Kemp’s explosive outburst, the Braves really only mounted one threat:  a base-loaded, two out chance in which 3 hits were recorded while only one found the outside grass.

Unfortunately, Dansby Swanson swung through a third strike to end that threat.


Looking Ahead

Tomorrow afternoon, Atlanta will be in Pittsburgh.  They blow into town against a cold wind that is expected to occasionally gust at gale force… with snow showers expected.

Assuming the game is played, Freddie Freeman will need only elevate virtually any fly ball to have it leave the yard into the right field seats at the stadium’s orientation means a NW wind strongly favors the Braves 1st baseman.

Likewise, scheduled starter Mike Foltynewicz will need to keep his pitches down to avoid having the Pirate hitters from doing the same.


But until then, the Braves finish up Series 1 of 2017 with a 1-2 record… not great given only 5 runs in total, but they did cash one W against their hosts.