Mets 3, Braves 1 (recapped by spike)

Well, partings are ever going to be bittersweet.

And so begins the last voyage of Chipper Jones, pausing at the grey havens of Turner Field for a few final days before the uncertainties of the last chapter are written, basking in the glow of fellow campaigners both in and out of uniform. We hope, we believe, we pray there will be much more to the story ere the end, but fate is fickle, and nothing is certain. It’s worth reflecting for a moment on the kismet that made Chipper a Brave in the first place – Scott Van Poppel defying the draft system and the Braves publicly. Faced with the possibility that this uber-prospect would make good on his promise to attend college the Braves chose….wisely. I will leave Jones’ career summation to some worthier soul, but I think it not an overstatement the Braves great run during the majority of his tenure was founded that day.

Of the game itself, there is little to tell – IWOTM, but Niese is a pretty fair pitcher regardless, and he put the Braves in full-fledged hibernation mode punctuated only by Freeman’s homer in the 4th. Still, Hudson soldiered on brilliantly, half an inning, half an inning, half an inning onward, yielding but one hit through 6. But in the deciding frame, Murphy laced a double to left. Wright really cracked one to right, with Heyward making a spectacular sno-cone catch to momentarily keep the run from scoring, but Murphy advanced to third anyway. Hudson intentionally waked Ike Davis to set up the double play, Hairston obligingly struck out, and Lucas Duda did what sluggers do, and got into one but good to right. Niese held serve in his half, and the Mets almost tacked on more in the eight, but for a nifty double play started by Jones – it was nice to see him get a least one highlight on an oh-fer evening. Regrettably, Bobby Parnell is also quite good at this pitching business and unceremoniously dismissed Freeman, Uggla, and Ross to wrap it up.

You can’t win them all, and the team has performed spectacularly down the stretch, but it was a bit of a letdown not to make more of a go of the whole affair. In any event, keep calm and carry on. There is work to do yet, and two more home games to root for ol’ #10.

68 thoughts on “Mets 3, Braves 1 (recapped by spike)”

  1. Taking the kid to see Chipper on Sunday. Bittersweet, indeed, spike.

    Btw, anybody notice the Cardinals are suddenly, maddeningly, forebodingly hot?

  2. Our offense is below league average in a lot of categories. I guess none of that really matters in the small sample size that is the playoffs. Just need to get hot for a couple of weeks, starting this coming Friday.

  3. Our offense has been really awful the entire month, from BA to power numbers, and I think we’re still worst in the league in batting average with RISP. But, we were just one pitch away from squeaking out another win. I just hope that the balloon doesn’t burst on these incredible pitching performances we’ve been getting.

  4. Not that I’m really put out, but in the 7th with two down, facing a lefty and the pitcher due up 2nd in the bottom of the inning would’ve been a perfect time to bring in Avilan. C’est la vie.

    I’m going to be in St. Louis this week, so I think I’m going to plan to catch one of their last few home games. It shouldn’t be too consequential, but I’ve never been to their stadium before, so it should be fun to at least check it out. Also gotta find my way to some of their weird pizza. :-)

  5. @6 I didn’t see the game, but I was curious whether there was any second-guessing of Fredi’s decision to leave Hudson in to face Duda. Duda basically can’t hit lefties.

  6. 2- The Cards are only 14-11 in September, three games worse than the Braves. Their “hotness” is because they spent a week and a half playing only the Cubs and Astros, the two worst teams in the majors. In the last month, the Cardinals have only won one series against anyone else- and that was hosting the Mets.

  7. Phils are still better than Cubs and ‘stros. The Marlins* are admittedly hot garbage, so sweeping them isn’t too exciting.

    For me, optimism comes down to Medlen. It’s not wholly rational, but I just believe he can go out there and dominate the Cards, such that 3 runs will win us that game. As for the division series, we’ll just have to see.

    *Especially the Marlins sans Stanton. Also, is it just me or have we barely seen Stanton this season? It seems like every time we play them, he’s just been injured, and then he’s back right after they move on.

  8. #12 – Looks like you’re right. Stanton’s played 15 games against the Phillies this year, 11 against the Mets, nine against the Nationals…and five against the Braves.

  9. Anyone see the Bulldogs’ defense? Last seen about an hour ago in Sanford Stadium, then it flat-out disappeared.

  10. I may be late to the party, but why is Jose Freaking Constanza hitting leadoff?

    Seriously, I thought Fredi was getting better.

  11. Georgia’s D played better after halftime, and part of the trouble were bad turnovers deep in their own zone, but yeah: they’re gonna have to be better next week.

  12. Michael Morse hit a grand slam for the Nats in the top of the 1st inning at St. Louis. That’ll cool the Cards off.

    I knew the Georgia offense was going to perform, but the defense was an unpleasant surprise. Ditto the special teams.

  13. That was some great television right there. Chip even had the common decency to keep his mouth shut. I was 7 years old in 1982 and I loved all those guys.

  14. Kay and I were at the home opener in 1982. It was a very good year.

    I had to leave the Dawgs in the fourth quarter. The old heart was about to explode.

  15. For those of you who missed it, Gene Garber, Bruce Benedict, Bob Horner, Phil Niekro and Dale Murphy were all together in the booth.

  16. IWOTM again, but another very good start by Minor. It would be nice if the offense would contribute a little more regularly though.

  17. Cardinals have cut it to 4-3. Someone want to explain to me about the umpiring decision resulting the grand slam with a phantom swing?

  18. Morse hit the ball over the outfield wall and off of the back wall; it bounced back into play, leading to a major traffic jam on the bases. Morse had passed second and had to go back and was tagged out trying to get back to first. Then the umpires reviewed the play to see if it was a homer and if anyone passed anyone else on the basepaths. That’s when Morse had to cycle back around the bases to home plate and take his phantom swing (which I don’t think is required, but I don’t know the whole rulebook).

  19. Just hoping…

    IWOTM does not pick up Wright’s 16 million dollar option due to financial straits, and the memory of Kimbrel frightens Wright so much he decides the only way he can continue to play in the majors is with the Braves. And he’s willing to take a nice discount to guarantee that he gets to see Kimbrel’s heater from third base.

  20. Interesting numbers for the last 30 days:

    Prado: 344/390/500
    Uggla: 272/368/469
    Freeman: 256/365/477
    Heyward: 245/291/402
    Chipper: 225/356/296
    Bourn: 203/322/243
    McCann: 186/234/322

    It’s not too hard to figure out why the Braves’ offense has stunk but, for all the criticism of Uggla, he has been one of the more productive players in the last month.

  21. I’m starting to get frustrated by the likely possibility that Kimbrel won’t win the Cy Young. He’s historically dominant, yet the award will go to a 20 game winner, which happens every year.

  22. I am not sure what my own opinion is in the matter, but there is a very strong argument to be made that the ip difference between starter and reliever creates an insurmountable value gap.

  23. That play the Cardinals pitcher just made might have been the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make on a bunt. Almost makes up for walking the leadoff man on four pitches.

  24. Kimbrel is certainly the most dominant pitcher on the team, and at least in terms of sheer strikeout ability, among the most dominant pitchers in the history of baseball. That said, Kris Medlen is having a better year, largely because he’s pitched twice as many innings. I just don’t see how you can pick Kimbrel for Cy Young over Medlen.

  25. Would you say that Jordan Lyles has had a better season than Kimbrel? He also has pitched twice as many innings.

    The award’s meaning is what you make it. But it’s hard to come up with criteria that exclude Kimbrel easily and that you can also take seriously.

  26. Let me be more specific. There is a school of thought that the end-of-year individual awards should be based on a context-free assessment of the skill a player showed during the season. Hence the reliance on WAR.

    I happen to think this is a mistake. WAR will tell you much about how to grade a player, but is an incomplete measure of how his skills were applied in the games already played. To me, WPA is a much better measurement for Cy Young and MVP, because it contextualizes performance. How did the player perform in the situations that mattered most? IOW, how did his excellence translate to team wins? If you want to predict who will perform the best next year, or who is worth how much money or what fantasy draft position, let WAR be your guide. But when it comes time to hand out the hardware, I want to know who performed best when the chips were down.

  27. To me, peripherals are better evidence to use in a question of who’s more talented, not who had a better year. To me, no one should ever win the Cy Young Award when someone has pitched extremely well with nearly twice the innings.

    Case in point: the 1973 Cy Young vote. Jim Palmer won it, with a 22-9 record and 2.40 ERA in 296 1/3 innings. But by WAR he wasn’t the best pitcher in the league. A number of other pitchers who received votes had more WAR: #2 Nolan Ryan, #4 John Hiller, #5 Wilbur Wood, and two pitchers who were tied for #7 in the voting, Bert Blyleven and Gaylord Perry. Hiller received more votes than Wood, despite the fact that he was a closer with 125 1/3 innings pitched — Wood had nearly three times the innings, at 359 1/3, most in baseball.

    (Hiller actually had more rWAR, 7.9 to 7.2, for what it’s worth, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why; Hiller had 7.9 rWAR but just 2.9 fWAR.)

    Hiller had a wonderful year that year, and Kimbrel has had a wonderful year this year. He’s definitely the Rolaids Man of Relief. Kimbrel will almost certainly receive more Cy Young votes than Medlen, and Kimbrel might even win the Cy if the other leading contenders (Cueto, Cain, Dickey et al) split their votes.

    But I see Wood/Hiller as a more extreme case of the same phenomenon as Medlen/Kimbrel. I just view the innings difference as a lot more important to the pitcher’s team than the strikeout difference. At the end of the day, for the purposes of winning, the fact that the runs didn’t score is more important than the reason why they didn’t score. That isn’t the case for contract negotiations or player projection, but the Cy Young is a reward for past performance. I just don’t see how the inning difference can be surmounted.

  28. Oh, I think leverage is important, don’t get me wrong. I just think leverage is a lot more important than components — K-rate, or GB%, or HR/FB%, or LD%, or BABIP, or anything like that.

    Jordan Lyles hasn’t had anywhere near as good a season as Kris Medlen, who is my baseline for comparison in the current argument. So I see Lyles as a non sequitur. He didn’t prevent runs well at all. Medlen prevented runs extremely well.

  29. Natspos retake the lead, 6-4 in the 10th.

    The Nationals won. Good; the Braves were not going to catch them anyway. Might as well root for the extreme schadenfreude that would come from a Cardinals’ collapse. The Dodgers are winning right now, if they hold on they’ll be only two games back of the Cardinals with four games remaining.

  30. There was a column a couple of weeks ago by Jason Stark in which he outlined why Craig Kimbrel should win the Cy Young. There was the normal stuff about historic K rates and the general lack of ability by the best hitters on Earth to even make contact with his stuff.

    But what really stuck with me was when he mentioned that he had proposed the idea of an official ‘Relief Pitcher Cy Young or some sort’ of award, in place of the Rolaids Relief man (And, as an aside, this is a horrible award, even if just for the name. Imagine the Spicy Doritos Cy Young or Wal-Mart AL MVP.). His fellow baseball writers in the BBWA (not a smart bunch by any measure) decided to vote against it. Their line of reasoning was that the award should be given to the best pitcher, regardless whether he is a starter or a reliever. That is the definition of the award.

    To me, Craig Kimbrel has achieved a level of domination no pitcher in his role has ever achieved before in the history of the game. The same cannot be said of a starting pitcher this year in the NL. In the role that Kimbrel has been assigned by the format of the game today, he has performed at a higher level than anyone before him that has been put into a similar role in the history of the game. He has been the best there ever was.

    I would understand if a starter, somebody else, was having a historically dominant season. But nobody is. The best WAR in the NL for a pitcher is Gio Gonzalez, at 5.4. If that stands, Gonzalez would have the lowest NL-leading WAR since Don Drysdale in 1957 (55 years ago). The only NL leader he has a chance to pass is Orel Hershiser in 1989. If he has an ugly start to end the season, he could be the worst there was in long, long time.

    So really, you’re looking at the either the weakest or the second weakest NL SP league leader in 55 years. Couple that with the greatest season ever by a relief pitcher in Kimbrel, I think we have a year where the Cy Young winner deserves to be a relief pitcher. And if it doesn’t occur this year, it probably never should occur again.

    By the way, I don’t entirely buy the argument that Verlander or Cueto or Dickey would be better in relief than Kimbrel. Kimbrel has better one-inning stuff than anybody in the game (which is to say that this year has not been just a statistical anomaly for a random pitcher). Craig Kimbrel is legitimately better than the starting pitchers in the game today.

    My two cents, anyway.

  31. @64, well Gagne did win it in ’03 – with a level of domination I respectfully submit was comparable, and with quite a few more IP.

  32. Okay, I’ll admit it: Within our understanding of the game today, modern relievers cannot be as valuable as starting pitchers. They just can’t. However, somebody has to do it. Somebody has to trudge out 50-90 times a season to finish games. That’s why we have two categories: starting pitcher and relief pitcher.

    Craig Kimbrel has a specific role on his ballclub as a relief pitcher. Medlen has switcher roles between being a reliever and a starting pitcher.

    In his defined role, Kimbrel has been the best there ever was, historically. Given historical standards, he could not contribute anymore than he already has to his team’s success within the confines of his role.

    Medlen has had an incredible season. However, he has not had a historically great season in his role as a relief pitcher. He was above-average, but certainly not historically elite. He has been an incredible starting pitcher, and if had done what he’s done for the last 77.2 innings for 170 innings, he’d be the runaway Cy Young favorite. However, he hasn’t done that. He hasn’t even matched his starting pitching dominance in his earlier relief innings.

    I guess, to me, I can’t expect relief pitchers to match starting pitchers in terms of innings thrown or WAR value. However, somebody has to be a relief pitcher. Within the confines of his role (and fully understanding that Kimbrel cannot have the counting stats of starting pitchers), Kimbrel has been much, much better at doing his job than Medlen has at doing his own job. Kimbrel can’t change what he’s going to do on a daily basis. He’s going to be relief pitcher. And he’s been better at it than Medlen has been in his two roles.

    Or, horrible analogy time: I would find a 1 year old playing Beethoven more impressive than I would find a 18 year old playing Rachmaninoff or Liszt. Even though Liszt is much harder to play, the list of 2 year olds that have played Beethoven is a lot, lot shorter and more exclusive than the list of 18 year olds that have played Liszt.

    I would especially find a 1 year old that can play Beethoven flawlessly more expressive than an 18 year old that plays Rachmaninoff with a few mistakes, which is what Kimbrel has done this year.

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