Braves-Mets: Atlanta Breaks Out The Brooms
In case you were in a coma since Monday night, you missed an exciting series between the Mets and the Braves at Turner Field. I'll break down each game and the positives and negatives for each team.
Game 1 - Braves win 6-1
The key to this game was the Mets' inability to knock a few in against Glavine in the first inning. So often we hear about good pitchers who run into trouble early in ballgames, but they get out of it and enter a zone for the rest of the game. This was no different.
Glavine retired 17 Mets in a row at one point. The Mets did a poor job of carrying momentum over from their previous series, although the day off makes that task more difficult.
A positive for the Braves was the patience of their hitters. When Aaron Heilman came into the game, the first four batters he faced all lasted more than five pitches each. McCann got to Heilman with a two run bomb to center that sealed the win for Atlanta on a 10-pitch at-bat.
Game 2 - Braves win 6-2
The Braves waiver-wire pickup, Jorge Campillo, made a successful debut in the rotation by shutting out the Mets over six innings. Campillo, who had pitched well in the Atlanta bullpen, had excellent control and struck out seven Mets while only surrendering three hits.
A couple of clutch hits with runners on base provided most of the offense for the Braves. Once again, the patience of the Braves lineup helped knock out Claudio Vargas.
Willie Randolph's choice of using Matt Wise (who had already pitched in the first game of the doubleheader) late in the game was not smart, as Wise gave up a two-run home run that provided insurance the Braves desperately needed.
Things did not get any better as Ryan Church, the hottest hitter in the Mets lineup, was injured on a slide into second base with Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Basically, the Mets could not solve Jorge Campillo. Most of the Met hits were in the later innings and they were not enough to spark a rally.
Game 3 - Braves win 11-4
Mike Pelfrey had solid movement on his pitches, but his inability to strike out Braves hitters at key times led to his departure early in the ball game. He threw 104 pitches in only four-plus innings. The bullpen was not strong either, giving up five runs in the other four innings.
Mets fans should be encouraged by an excellent game from Reyes, who had a couple hits to go along with two stolen bases. The Mets' hitting showed much more life than the day before, but their pitching and defense let them down.
The Braves were led by the solid pitching of Jair Jurrjens, who continues to earn the nickname "Houdini" by pitching out of trouble. When the Mets had a runner on third base with only one out, Jurrjens struck out Luis Castillo to help escape a jam.
Two-out RBI were imporant for the Braves, as they racked up seven of them. Those hits can really create frustration within the opposing dugout, and Pelfrey showed his frustration by slamming his glove against the wall after the third inning.
Game 4 - Braves win 4-2
This is the type of game that we see so often in October. It was a great pitching matchup, and the team that made the most plays won. The Braves rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Santana and the Mets.
I noticed that the Braves clubhouse and fans seemed emotionally charged by this victory. When a Santana pitch came inside on Tim Hudson while he was bunting, Hudson took a step toward the mound and seemed irritated. After getting a big double play in the eighth inning, Hudson pumped his fist and the Braves rode the momentum the rest of the way.
During the postgame, Braves player Kelly Johnson said that this was the most fun that he and a lot of the Braves had all year. Johnson, whose bat has been hot lately, led the Braves with three hits against the lefty Santana, including some aggressive and speedy base running that led to the late rally.
Throughout the series, Atlanta played loose, but aggressive baseball. The offense had a great mix of small ball, clutch hitting, and long at bats. Glavine, Campillo, Jurrjens, and Hudson all kept their team in the game, exactly what good pitchers do to win.
The Braves will need to maintain this formula of solid pitching and timely hitting if they want to take three of four from the incoming Arizona Diamondbacks, who will be looking to break out of a hitting funk after getting swept by the NL East leading Marlins.
Keep an eye on Jeff Francoeur, who started taking some better cuts after getting benched in the second game of the series. Teixeira has seemingly kicked out of his slump, and he will need more solid hitting to protect Chipper.
The Mets situation seems to be somewhat desperate now. They need to win their next series against the Rockies, and many are speculating that Randolph will be gone if this does not occur.
The Mets need one of their players, it will probably have to be a pitcher, to go out and have an excellent performance in Denver. The Mets need the good Oliver Perez—not the wild Oliver Perez—to shut down the Rockies.
A negative that occurred in nearly every game of this series for the Mets was their defense. Miscues by the fielders erased the positives that the Mets were beginning to make on the mound and at the plate.
In the last two games, the Mets seemed poised to break out of this apparent slump. They will have to ignore the issues off the field and focus on picking up a victory.
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