Braves 2 Games, Mets 0 Games

It was only the Mets, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t incredibly satisfying. If anything, that it was the Mets only makes nights like tonight sweeter. This evening the Braves completed two victories in the span of a few hours, thereby proving yet again that they are a very good team, while the Mets… well, the Mets suck.

There were two victories tonight because last night’s game was resumed at 6:10 pm. The earlier matchup had been suspended in the first place because monsoon-like rains had interrupted a tie game through 8 innings. Well, that’s what the official scorecard said, anyway. Those of us watching knew better. We knew, for instance, that said rains actually interrupted a 5-3 Braves lead, but the umpires, in a quixotic quest to get a complete game in – had the Braves or Mets ended the 8th inning with a lead, the game, considering the weather, would have ended without need for suspension – allowed the Mets to batter around poor Anthony Varvaro amidst horrendous conditions. After the 8th inning finally ended last night, the Metropolitans had managed to capitalize upon the conditions and tie the game. And so the game was suspended, not concluded.

Play only resumed briefly, however. With a new day and (slightly) better weather, the Braves closed well. After squandering a nice opportunity in the 9th – please, Fredi, stop bunting guys from 2nd to 3rd! – the Braves scored a couple runs in the top of 10th inning off an ineffective Brandon Lyon. In the bottom half of the inning, Craig Kimbrel was a bit wild, but he managed to shut the door nonetheless. That made for one Braves victory.

Mike Minor made sure that there would be two. Not only was he brilliant on the mound; he hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the 5th: straight into the wind, no less. And once that happened, the wheels came off for Dillon Gee. The next four batters reached, and before Terry Collins could say “holy crap, Dillon is kind of a stupid way to spell Dylan,” the Braves had staked a 5-0 lead. Not that Mike Minor needed all those runs. The two he plated would actually have been enough. For you see, Mikey was dealing tonight. Consider the line: 7.1 innings,10 strikeouts, 3 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs. But then consider that it actually looked more impressive live.

Tomorrow the Braves go for the sweep. Before we turn to that, though, let’s enjoy how it was only 9 days ago that we were struggling to say anything good about this team. They had won only 9 of their previous 25 games. Almost nobody was doing anything right. And they had just ended a long road trip with a mere 1/2 a game lead on the Natspos. Now they’ve won 8 in a row, have a number of guys back healthy and playing well, and hold a 5 and 1/2 game lead in the East. Boom.

37 thoughts on “Braves 2 Games, Mets 0 Games”

  1. So BJ Upton is currently hitting an infield-fly ball on 31.6% of his at-bats. Since the data became available in 2002, the highest infield-fly ball percentage (minimum 300 ABs) was Gabe Kepler of the 2004 Red Sox with 27.2%.

    In 3289 career plate appearances, Joey Votto has hit 11 infield fly balls. In 4218 career plate appearances, Ryan Howard has hit 19 infield fly balls.
    In 168 plate appearances this season, BJ Upton has hit 12 infield fly balls.

    Yeah, I’m obsessed with infield fly balls.

  2. I mean, it’s been really noticeable for BJ. He just seems to do it so damn much.

    But nice wins, and a nice outing for Minor. He’s the best pitcher on the team right now, yes? We all agree on that? A buddy on mine who’s a Philly’s fan was just asking me why he’s so good, and the best I could come up with is, “Well, he’s been really good for almost a year now.”

    And after how much he struggled initially, it’s awesome to see him have so much success.

  3. SSS, but Gattis hits much better as a catcher or PH. Playing a position you are unfamiliar with is stressful. With return of McCann & Freeman and apparent reversion to norm of Uggla and Heyward I think best defensive team should be out there. Gattis and McCann will both hit in interleague games.

  4. @5 Gattis made two outs on high fastballs last night. It’s his single biggest problem at the plate and I can only hope Walker is working with him on that.

  5. Why is Minor good? He locates his fastball well and has just enough velocity on it to make all his other pitches more effective. As far as I’m concerned, it’s basically like a mini-version of Cliff Lee: he’s just commanding his fastball really well, and so he’s controlling the tempo of the game.

  6. @8 baseless speculation, but does having an effective, but non Strasbergian fast ball require Minor to rely more on location, his change and curve than on more stressful 98 mph heat? Does that mean he is less likely to break?

  7. Going 9-16 sucks and is truly worrisome. Winning eight in a row is awesome and ameliorates a bit of that worry. Me, I’ll be less nervous about our future fortune when our new bullpen order congeals and BJ, Jason, and Struggla are hitting a happy, healthy .220 or higher (I am not a greedy man).

  8. @11 .220b from now on is not impossible. I expect more from JH as I am greedy. Nice to get Freeman back. Uggla’s power lately helps.

  9. We may have some issues, but we are able to cover them up (at least for now)
    The Nats have some big problems and are unable to hide them.

  10. I also think it may be time for a Gattis/BJ platoon

    Per DOB:

    BJ is 14-for-100 against right-handers, with three homers, five RBIs, 12 walks, 41 strikeouts, a .237 OBP and a .250 slugging percentage.

    Ouch

  11. I think it’s time for a Gattis/Freeman/Upton/Upton/Heyward/Bmac platoon. No reason this guy can’t play 3 out of every 5 games right now.

  12. It seems Fredi is sittng BJ more and more. I wonder how much longer he has to get it together.

  13. @16: Probably a good two years or so, seeing as that contract isn’t going anywhere.

    By the way, the Braves are now 18-17 since the end of the 10-game win streak.

  14. @9, I don’t think we understand enough about pitcher health to really be able to speculate. Unfortunately, most pitchers are unable to avoid injury. It’s unclear how much the likelihood of injury is affected by a pitcher’s velocity.

  15. You know, I will argue that there has not been a more adamant supporter of Evan Gattis than me. I’ve been on that guy’s wagon train since AA. And he’s hella fantastic so far in the bigs. But if you’re looking to sit your struggling RH hitting CF against RHP, you might want to try the far better defensive LH hitting OF who’s hitting .304/.429/.420 overall and .328/.453/.459 against RHP before you pencil in a defensively terrifying converted RH hitting catcher who is hitting .226/.270/.505 against RHP and .125/.192/.208 when he plays LF.

    Let me repeat that for you:

    Jordan Schafer, vs RHP this year: .328/.453/.459
    Evan Gattis, vs RHP this year: .226/.270/.505

    Forget the defensive value Schafer has over Gattis. 170 points of on-base destroys 50 points of SLG. If you’re going to sit BJ against RHP, you play Schafer until such time as he ceases to post a 900+ OPS against those same RHP.

  16. Evan Gattis… (BA/OBP/SLG) by position

    as C .274 .315 .595 .910
    as 1B .100 .250 .200 .450
    as LF .125 .192 .208 .401
    as PH .714 .714 2.143 2.857

  17. Gattis may have played 1B or LF in Little League. Learning a new position at professional level is difficult.

  18. Hot Hand Hutcheson strikes again!

    (FWIW, I agree)

    Edit: autocorrect made it Hutchenson. Sorry.

  19. Ryan had an injury in the minors in 1967, and a career ending injury in 1993. Other than that, he only had a few seasons where he pitched fewer than 150 innings. (Granted, a season under 200 innings probably meant Ryan was pitching around some pain, but he never lost a season other than the ’67 minor league season with the Mets, that I know of.)

  20. Hot Hand Hutchenson strikes again!

    Yep. You do not make decisions in-season with the same logic and analytical processes that you use in the off-season.

  21. Driving out for lunch and I heard a story about the new Rutgers AD – I mean she’s obviously a sociopath, but how on earth does your search committee miss both a lawsuit AND her entire team accusing her of abuse?

  22. @ 26, I know a few folks around these parts have played high school and college ball. I’d be interested to know their thoughts on the hot hand philosophy. I played a little in high school and mostly sucked. But there were definitely a few stretches when every swing was level and every pitch was easy to see. IMO, the difference between a overall good hitter and some dude like me is how long and frequent the hot hand stretches are. Thus, someone on a hot hand streak is a de facto good hitter. You just gotta pull ’em at the right time.

  23. Teheran has a 2.41 ERA in last 5 starts. SSS or a hot hand? Both or has he figured it out?

  24. Still hard to believe that we gave $75 million to a guy and we are talking about deconstructing his entire swing and starting from scratch after a couple of months. Anyone think of something remotely comparable where a guy just looks like he has completely lost it?

    I’m wondering if he might have a vision problem. I also don’t see how he can bat with sunglasses on. Hopefully his mean-regression / hot-hand streak will carry us for a month sometime later on and we can all stop freaking over this dude.

  25. The problem with hot-handism as a managerial tool is that it’s hard to spot them until well after they’ve started and determine they are over they are over until well after they have ended. I would also think that it would be much harder on the player’s psychologically to think that their continued playing time is dependent on “being hot.” And it also invites the question about what is to be done when no one is hot? Bench or send down everybody?

  26. Folks, help me out. I remember a story that may be an urban legend, but I can’t find anything out there proving or disproving it. The story is that before Bonds signed with the Giants, the Pirates offered him a 22-year contract worth $44 million and he, of course, turned it down. Does anyone out there have any info on this? Thanks!

  27. @ 31,
    I think that divining & mitigating those issues is exactly what makes a good manager. I freak out about game management decisions as much as the next guy, but that’s largely not where managers win and lose games, IMO.

  28. That is why baseball managers as a group shy away from hot-handism, IMHO, and why they generally move guys into “roles” and stick with them. If you know in your heart that Heyward is better than Constanza, regardless of what’s happened over the last two weeks, you play Heyward, banking that the long term reward will be better than any short gain. Even if you’re wrong about Heyward, it’s not going to make Constanza a better option, or increase his ability to stay hot, lack of which is why he’s a career minor leaguer.

  29. Yeah, I was mostly talking about platoon and bench players. But marginal players do constitute a significant portion of any given roster, or game for that matter. It’s best to marginalize their marginalisms, and maximize their, um, maximisms, however temporary. But generally not at the expense of a proven regular or a purposefully-in-development prospect.

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