Braves 5, Mets 3

IWOTM, but there’s a distinct difference between the Mets’ stud prospects and their retread roster-fillers. Tonight’s win, and relative offensive explosion, was against the latter.

The Braves got three runs in the fourth inning off Shaun Marcum off a pair of base hits followed by a three-run homer by Chris Johnson. Baserunning minimalism worked that inning; B.J. Upton declined to try to go first-to-third on Dan Uggla’s single prior to Johnson’s at-bat. CJ allowed him to jog home, hitting his fourth bomb of the season. The Braves were up 3-0 at the end of that inning.

Kris Medlen was awesome pitching, going seven-plus innings, striking out seven, and giving up just six hits. This could realistically have been a game in which the Braves never lost that lead, but for one defensive lapse. After two base hits to start the top of the fifth, Medlen got John Buck to hit a comebacker to the mound. Medlen spun around and tried to get the lead runner at third, but the angle was awkward, Johnson was still on his way to the bag, the throw was offline, and the ball trickled into no-man’s land in foul ground behind the bag at third. Both runners scored and Buck wound up at second, from where he then scored on a well-placed Kirk Nieuwenhuis bloop .

The Braves got the lead back in the bottom of the fifth. Before I tell you about the bottom of the fifth, I want to tell you about a trip to New Orleans I took about four Mardi Gras ago. My M.O. any time I go to NOLA is to get hammered in the Quarter, then walk down Canal Street at the end of the night for a blackjack nightcap at Harrah’s. This isn’t necessarily sound long-term financial strategy, but this particular trip, I couldn’t lose. Sixteen and the dealer’s showing seven? Gimme that five! Twelve and dealer’s got an ace? I’ll wait for you to bust, sir. I can’t explain it. I barely remembered most of it then, and remember less now. I just know that both nights I was there that year, I walked out of that casino with about $100 more than I walked in with. Given that I was staying for free with a friend and drinking cans of cheap beer out of a backpack most of the time, I actually turned a profit going to New Orleans. This has not happened since, and probably will not again.

Anyway, what I’m getting to is this: Jordan Schafer led off the bottom of the fifth with a double. Schafer is fast and can score from second on most any base hit. Andrelton Simmons was the next batter, and (you guessed it) Fredi Gonzalez had him sacrifice to move Schafer to third.

So now there’s one out, and Schafer can score not just on any base hit, but on any wild pitch! Marcum had thrown 971 major league innings prior to today and thrown 18 wild pitches; that’s a WP every 54 innings, roughly. Effectively, Fredi traded an out for an extra 2%-and-change chance that Schafer would get home that inning. But sure enough, after walking Freddie Freeman and striking out Justin Upton, Marcum threw a pitch in the dirt that got away from Buck just enough for Schafer to bust down the line and score. Blackjack!

B.J. Upton rendered the whole episode moot with a double that scored Freeman and put the Braves ahead 5-3, but the inning ended after that with an Uggla strikeout, the second unintentional out of the inning.

Fortunately, that was all the Braves needed. Medlen pitched without further incident into the eighth, Luis Avilan put the eighth away, and Craig Kimbrel was just filthy in the ninth. Kimbrel struck out the first two Mets (like, didn’t-have-a-chance-in-hell style strikeouts) and got a lazy flyout to end the game. It was vintage 2012 Kimbrel, and it was good to see.

Game 5 of the world’s worst National League Division Series is tomorrow. It’s been real, Mets, but it’s time we started seeing other teams.

207 thoughts on “Braves 5, Mets 3”

  1. With Mac batting, Wright was playing at shortstop. Schafer could have just stolen home, or at least initiated a cat-and-mouse game. If it was Simmons, I guarantee he swipes it.

  2. If the Braves win tomorrow, will they be the first team ever to win a series in which they were swept in a double header?

  3. @5

    It’s happened more than a few times, I’m sure, given the prevalence of doubleheaders in the past. But I believe this would be the first involving the Braves since April 23-26, 1981. The Braves took three at San Francisco, then were swept in a series-ending twin bill.

  4. I’m beginning to think that Fredi calls for bunts just to show us he’s in charge.

    You the man, Fredi!
    Now let the boys hit.

    Go Braves!

  5. “Great job, Med! You’re looking like the guy we saw last year…now, to the bullpen with you!”

  6. a triple play we heard him say
    so first let’s throw the ball away
    a couple likely score
    no matter, is there more?
    the third compounds our disarray.

  7. Yeah, Medlen has looked great for the past 5-6 weeks. I repeat: it would be madness to send him to the pen. Contending teams don’t send their second best starter to the bullpen mid-season.

  8. Medlen’s retelling of his error in the postgame is pretty funny. Not funny at the time…now very funny.

  9. Medlen should not be put in the pen. Until Beachy returns we don’t have a problem on our hands. I’ve wondered about Teherans innings also, but haven’t heard that he’s on a limit. Our starters are studs at home it seems. Btw, Meds last 4 starts 23K:1BB

  10. Effectively, Fredi traded an out for an extra 2%-and-change chance that Schafer would get home that inning.

    Not that it changes the criticism, but since the bunt was the first out, to be fair it created an opportunity for the run to score on sac fly as well (some other things too, but that’s the big one).

  11. Teheran’s innings have been in the 140s the last few years (plus however many he had in winter ball this past year.). You could probably expect him to pitch 170-175 IP this year before he possibly gets shut down.

    Of course, Medlen’s 138 IP last year was a career high, but he’s 27, not 22.

  12. The Mets have been infecting us with their suck. Five games is well over the standard dose.

  13. Here is the rotation’s numbers for the past month. This is a SSS, obviously, but it tells the story of how these guys have looked lately:

    Medlen – 2.86 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 3.00 xFIP
    Minor – 2.51 ERA, 2.40 FIP, 3.16 xFIP
    Teheran – 2.43 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 3.13 xFIP
    Hudson – 2.95 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 3.45 xFIP
    Maholm – 3.20 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 3.57 xFIP

  14. A larger sample size is (so I heard last night) that since last year’s All-Star break, Medlen has the lowest ERA.

    Of ANYBODY.

    The problem with sending Medlen to the pen is that he’s a far better starter than he is a reliever. He’s not a one-inning guy.

    Oh, he may perform well at times in that role, but his pitching arsenal screams “starter”. He’s got command of four pitches which means he can use his 90-mph fastball at the proper times and it looks like Chapman’s (see the strikeout of Buck).

  15. I think it’s a lock that Beachy will go to the pen – assuming he comes back at all.

  16. With Avilan walking a tight rope, Venters/EOF hurting, and Wood with inexperience, Maholm may be the guy to stick down there.

  17. @25, I agree. I think a lot of folks have been thinking that Beachy would be back at his appointed return date, and that he would pick up right where he left off as a dominant starter (or close to it, at least). We’ve already had the return date scotched, and I don’t presume that he will pick up where he left off, not right away at least.

    Here’s hoping he does, though.

  18. @5: It has happened 154 times. The most recent was a 5 game series between the Expos and Florida September 13-16, 2004. Montreal (visiting) swept the Marlins in the double header by Florida won the other three games.

    Second, nice writeup, but you have forgotten one thing in the Marcum wild pitch stats, which, if true, makes Fredi a potential genius (so I’m sure it will discounted by many here). The WP Marcum threw was, in most circumstances, not a WP at all — if there had been a man on first, for example, henever could have advance to second on that WP. The only reason it was a WP was that a fast man was on third and the Mets (inexplicably to Ron Darling to whom I was listening at the time) were playing a shift which allowed Success to play almost halfway down the line. So Marcum’s historic WP statistics are an underestimate of the WP probability in that particular situation.

  19. I think all we can do is speculate. Each starter is performing very well. No one deserves to be sent to the pen based on a league average starting rotation’s standards. I agree with justhank that Maholm doesn’t have the skills to be a reliever, and so I still don’t think he should go to the pen. I also don’t think that Atlanta will send him to the pen.

    I also don’t see how it’s a “lock” Beachy goes to the pen. Who has said that? If anything, if I read things correctly, Wren has said that he will be in the rotation.

    Six legit starters in the middle of the season. Wow, what a team.

  20. Btw, had to check out the Talking Chop/Capital Avenue thing the other day.

    Long live Braves Journal. Some smart folks up in here.

  21. What tightrope is Avilan actually walking? His opposition is OPSing .236 against him this past month.

  22. @31

    I see that now. Sorry about that. But yeah, I would also agree that Medlen doesn’t deserve to go to the pen (nor does anyone).

  23. @29, I think Beachy to the pen (or staying in the minors for an extra month) is just the path of least resistance. They’ve waited for the situation to work itself out, and to date it hasn’t. You can’t demote any of the guys in the current rotation. That just wouldn’t be right. Beachy needs someone else to pitch poorly, someone else to get injured, or someone to get traded. Until then he should probably keep working on his comeback in Gwinnett – that seems better than going to the bullpen, now that I think about it more.

  24. Can we get Gondee’s blog listed over on the side with the other Braves’ websites?

  25. Beachy hasn’t exactly looked great in rehab yet, either. It usually takes some time to get command back. But at the same time, Beachy has confounded expectations every step of the way. He might just come back and be really good again.

    Personally, I’d rather have him than Maholm in the rotation.

  26. A six man rotation would usually line up as five primary starters and a “Sunday starter” who picked up a single start a week while giving the other guy’s an extra day’s rest occasionally.

  27. Yeah I would rather go into a playoff series with Beachy in the mix. I just don’t see any need to rush it right now. We don’t know if he’s ready yet, and we don’t really need starting pitching at the moment. I would rather he replace Hudson (assuming Beachy is back to prior form), but I know that’s never going to happen.

  28. So the roster would look like what?

    Hudson
    Maholm
    Medlen
    Minor
    Teheran

    Beachy

    Kimbrel
    Waldron
    Avilan
    Wood
    Gearrin
    Carpenter

    Upton
    Upton
    Freeman
    C. Johnson
    Simmons
    Uggla
    Freeman
    McCann

    Laird
    Gattis
    Schafer
    R. Johnson
    Pena

    In a perfect world?

  29. #32 – 4.76K/9. 3.81BB/9. 1.94ERA compared to a 4.41 xFIP. .205 Babip with a .268 last season.

    Any reliever that’s walking as many as he’s striking out concerns me. Sounds like he’s due to regress.

  30. Of course he’s due to regress from a .236 OPS, but even triple that isn’t terrible. You can search, but there’s nothing but positive things to say about this pitching staff right now. Moving Maholm only solves the rotation issue, but shouldn’t directly result in Maholm taking innings from Avilan because he “should be” a bit worse than his actual numbers.

  31. I wouldn’t mind an eyelash strain by Gearrin or Carpennter in order to see what Juan Jaime could do. I also heard it mentoned that the Lisp might be close to coming back.

  32. @40 Something like that, yeah. I’d be careful with the 6-man rotation idea, at least with Tim Hudson. Dude says he pitches better tired, so I’m not sure you want him “too strong” due to an extra day off. But I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing Teheran and Beachy have low innings totals in the second half.

    It’s a nice problem to have. The alternative would be “who do we have that could possibly take Jair Jurrjens’ spot!” That problem sucks.

  33. @45 Braves should grant Tim Hudson permission to pitch for an independent league team between his big league starts. BAM. 6-man rotation is ready to roll for the short term.

  34. Did the complete disaster that was shutting down Stephen Strasburg not dissuade everybody from the overly reactionary and arbitrary innings limit idea? Teheran isn’t even coming off an injury, for God’s sake. If you wanna give him a turn or two off as we go down the stretch, fine, but there should absolutely not be a point where Teheran is shut down for the remainder of the year upon passing it. Besides, he will probably turn out to be no higher than the fourth man in the playoff rotation anyway (since we know Hudson will be in it, like it or not), so he wouldn’t get that many playoff starts.

  35. Plus, Teheran might be needed in October, so it would make sense to keep his arm in the rotation.

  36. #43 – Once again, I never said he should take Avilan’s innings. I just made mention of why we could use another lefty out of the bullpen.

    On another note, Ayala will begin his rehab assignment in Gwinnett starting today.

  37. In addition to @48, I certainly never suggested we should shut Teheran down. I said I wouldn’t mind not piling up Steve Avery-esque innings on a 22 year old arm.

  38. At the Gwinnet game. Hale got good results, but didn’t have many swing and misses (or Ks); Cunningham looks pretty good at the plate; Mejia did his “look horrible for three plate appearances, then homer on the fourth” thing; Terdo has looked awful in all four plate appearances; and Ayala, rehabbing, just pitched a scoreless inning, though he was having some command issues.

  39. Teheran has pitch 89 innings in 45% of the season. Does anyone expect him to pitch 200 innings and be fresh for playoffs? I expect that it will take Beachy at least a month to heal and finish rehabbing again. Wait as long as possible to decide. Neither Wren or Fredi will listen to us.

  40. Via DOB:

    In 44 games during May and June, Justin Upton has hit .205 (33-for-161) with three homers, 14 RBIs, 54 strikeouts, a .316 OBP and a .298 slugging percentage. And in his past 29 games, he’s just 20-for-111 (.180) with one homer, five RBIs, 14 walks, 41 strikeouts and a .270 OBP and .225 slugging percentage

  41. An innings limit would imply that if he passes it, you shut him down. And it wasn’t you suggesting it, Sam, it was braves14. And no, the Strasburg situation doesn’t prove anything, really, it just highlights the folly of punting a chance at winning a World Series because you think you can see into the future.

  42. It certainly created a situation that unless you win a World Series, you will be second-guessed, which is not the best PR planning in any event.

  43. Natspros thought they had no chance for the post season and were more worried about April attendance. I think Strasburg’s performance declined near end of last season.

  44. @59

    First, a bunch of people thought they had a chance to get into wild-card contention going into last season. I seriously doubt that they themselves thought they had no chance. Secondly, even if they did, they had plenty of chances to make adjustments to their plan regarding Strasburg, but they barreled full-steam ahead with it, making it known they thought they were complete geniuses for doing it the entire season. And thirdly, even if Strasburg’s performance did trail off at the end a little bit, he would still have given the team a better chance to win the World Series than what they threw out there.

  45. Detwiler was his replacement, and threw 6ip with no runs and they won the game he started. Zimmerman, Gonzalez and Jackson were the ones that spit the bit, and they were going to start regardless.

  46. @60 Natspros had several players with career years in 2012. Basically the same team in under .500 this year. Strasburg averaged about 5 1/3 innings in 2012. Many thought Phils, FISH & Braves would be better last year.

  47. @53: Do we really need to be making light of Ayala’s anxiety disorder? If he were recovering from a shoulder injury, would you say something like “Don’t any of you guys twist his arm out of his socket and set him back”?

  48. 57 — Keep in mind that the Braves have at least 4 other quality starters, possibly 5. If September comes and Teheran is on pace for 200 IP when he’s a 22 year old who has never thrown more than 144 innings, it would be foolish to ride him hard when you have other options. Maybe shutting him down would be a bit much, but putting him in the bullpen at that point may be wise.

  49. 55 — It seems to be that maybe Jupton shouldn’t be getting as many PAs right now.

  50. @mlbbowman: #Braves lineup: Pastornicky 4 Heyward 9 Freeman 3 J. Upton 7 B.J. Upton 8 C. Johnson 5 Laird 2 Simmons 6 Minor 1

  51. 67 – Yes, just this past winter. Even more reason to take precaution since he had virtually no offseason.

  52. @ 69 If Teheran has 135 innings by end of July perhaps he should go to pen for August and become a sixth starter in September. Four or five starts to lengthen him out?

  53. @66 – there is far more value in getting Justin Upton through his slump and back to “right” than there is in getting Jordan Schafer a few more at bats.

  54. Not an expert, but Teheran has a natural pitching motion that should be less stressful.

  55. @72: Tom Glavine lauded Beachy’s pitching motion, saying he would teach it to his kid. I don’t know if a “natural” pitching motion lessens the risk of shoulder/rotator problems, but Beachy’s motion didn’t.

    As a guy who wanted to keep Delgado over Teheran, I want Julio to make me eat crow for the next decade and a half, so I hope you’re right.

    The Commodore’s got the helm, so the Braves are looking good tonight.

  56. Gifts will be gratefully accepted, but it is written that no more than one Upton shall be successful at the same time.

  57. I’d like to announce that, in preparation for my turn in the game summary rotation tonight, I am debuting my brand-spanking-new Eephus League Scorebook, created by the fabulous Bethany, whose graphic design chops are to this point sorely underutilized. You’ve got serious game, kiddo.

    It’s a beautiful piece of craftswomanship, combining form and function in a masterful way. Highly recommended if you haven’t yet ordered one.

  58. At some point all those bloops, swinging bunts and 17-hop singles are going to even out, right? Right?

  59. Chris delivers! You know, we need one of those rally killers right about now.

    Edit: I’ll gladly settle for that, Gerald. Best 3rd catcher in the business.

  60. The AJC-related Twitterverse is lighting up with reports that Dan Uggla is having vision problems and is considering Lasik surgery.

    I don’t know what to think about that. One one hand, it sounds a little like a retroactive excuse. On the other hand, getting Uggla out of the lineup and replacing with someone who can hit better and play better defense perks my ears up. On the other other hand, I’m not sure we actually have someone like that (Pena, maybe? Trade for Prado?).

    So I put it to you fine people: How should I feel about it?

  61. Prompted by @96, I am watching Tigers/Red Sox on MLB network with the Braves on my laptop, and I have to ask- does Max Scherzer really have two different colored eyes or is he doing something weird with contact lenses or something? Because he looks WEIRD.

  62. 97- According to Wikipedia, yes, he does have different-colored eyes (left brown, right blue).

  63. @99- thanks. Maybe I’ve just lived a sheltered life but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

  64. Giving up home runs to Wright is one thing. Walking Duda is another. Duda can’t hit lefties.

  65. Oh Chris.

    @96 I think it’s a good thing. He gets out of the lineup and maybe, just maybe, the lasik helps his vision. I doubt it could get worse.

    I knew a kid who had one brown eye, and the other eye was split down the middle: half brown, half blue.

  66. Whew. Thank goodness the terrible hitters were all up. And to be fair, CJ made that worse than it needed to be. Still, Minor is throwing a lot of balls and giving up some hard hit balls.

  67. Chip is talking about how Laird hasn’t said a word about his lack of playing time. This less than a week after Laird was quoted in the AJC complaining (mildly) about his lack of playing time.

  68. I hope any young first basemen out there were watching Freeman just then, because that was textbook execution.

  69. Weird stat o’ the day: we’re next to last in the league in doubles. I would have thought a team that hits lots of homers would hit lots of doubles too. Nope – we’re all about the three true outcomes I guess.

  70. As I was saying, weird – and by weird, I mean stupid – that Minor hit for himself last inning.

  71. Just when I think I can’t hate the Mets any more than I do, they field a guy named Satin.

  72. Fredi should trademark this move…bat the pitcher and then take him out next inning. “The Fredi”.

  73. I don’t hate the Mets. I hate the idiot who decided to leave Minor in the game. He has looked bad all night, and was lucky to get through six innings with only three runs scored. That should have been clear to the guy paid lots of money to manage a professional baseball team.

  74. Normally these sorts of things have to prove they have staying power but I vote that we add “The Fredi” to the glossary immediately.

  75. At least we got some high-leverage Walden. Since it’s not the 8th I was afraid the script called for Gearrin.

  76. Everyone does what they do best, only to a higher extreme, on their bobblehead night. Thus, Chipper goes deep, Freddie goes deep, and B.J. accounts for more outs than plate appearances.

  77. I’m pretty sure Laird has gotten a base hit on that drag bunt once already this year.

  78. 158 — Fredi won’t PH McCann now with his irrational fear of running out of catchers.

  79. Considering Freddie was on deck, I would have been happier with a strikeout looking than swinging at ball four.

  80. He really hasn’t learned to hit lefties yet. It neutralizes him at the end of games.

  81. You can’t carry this guy. He’d have to hit like Manny Ramirez to carry a defender this atrocious.

  82. I’m this close to giving up on Heyward. I’m lowering expectations down from “the next Dave Justice” to “just another guy”. That swing needs so much work, we may need to hire more hitting coaches. Also, taking on the 3-0 pitch is such a pussy move. He took the best pitch in the whole at bat.

    Extra Base Hits…that’s what matters. We don’t have them.

  83. Chris Johnson is capable of committing three errors on one play before this season is done.

  84. @178

    Calm down. He’s 23 and already has two all-star caliber seasons, which is two more than Freeman has – and whom I’m guessing you haven’t “given up on.” Whatever that means. He also has an .875 OPS this month. He just needs to learn how to hit lefties.

  85. @182, it’s a “me” problem. My expectations for Heyward are through the roof. Freeman is truly “just another guy” to me (ok, somewhat better than that, but not enough power at 1B for my tastes).

  86. GAHHHHHHHHHH! Great AB by BJ there, just bad luck he lined it at the SS. Overall, though, that was an extremely frustrating game.

  87. Two AB’s there with Freeman and BJ that could have gone our way. Nice play from Murphy and BJ hit it right at the SS.

    We really need to fix Heyward. He gets ahead in almost every AB then either K’s or rolls over something.

  88. I don’t know if Pnicky has the arm for 3rd. It’s better than Uggla’s, but I don’t know by how much.

  89. Really, though, the Mets could have scored more as well, what with three home runs, a few doubles, and Chris Johnson making like 31 errors.

  90. Should I be concerned that the Braves are 31-30 since starting the season 12-1? Or should I be pleased that they’re on pace for 94 wins?

    Probably both.

  91. #198 – We still have played the most road games and weathered a terrible start from our OF crew.

  92. @138 .. cause thats Freddies style .. he is the worst late inning mgr in baseball .. period ..again another one of our LH McCann doesnt get an at bat … whats wrong with Pena ??? Bench has gone from strong too very weak ..especially when Freddie wont pinchhit for somebody cause he is afraid of hurtin feelins … he had C Johnson in on deck circle at end of game .. surely that was a decoy and B Mac was going to hit had Upton got on … but with Freddie you never know. Boy Uggla is definately the guy you DONT want up in a pressure at bat …

  93. Apparently no one in Atlanta can see. Bmac, Freeman, Wood, and now Uggla.

    @mlbbowman: Uggla has been battling vision problems. He received contacts today. He’ll try them before possibly having LASIK surgery.

  94. #198- I think overall we have to be happy where we are.

    re: this series, playing 5 games in 4 days with no rest before, facing Harvey + Wheeler, having a short bench leveled the playing field.

    Also, the Mets made like 10 roster changes mid-series, so they were fresher or at least, had guys playing a little over their head.

    Braves have not had much luck and are 2 games below their pythag (Nats are +4). Could be up 6 more games with average luck.

    however, I am very concerned about:
    – our 3b situation. CJ’s defense makes him below replacement. i’d prefer pena/pastornkick/belliard to him.
    – Fredi’s decision making- minimizing our winning chances. He seems to manage the game as if the situation is different, like we are up by 2 vs in a tie game. He also annoncues lineup decisions based on “Heyward is 2-12 vs X so I’ll sit him”. Never mind tht was mostly in 2011 when injured.

  95. @201 Nobody can be an effective hitter if he can’t see properly. Just get the LASIK done now Dan.

    Bobby was never a very good late-inning manager. So it is not surprising that Fredi isn’t one. However, who would be considered as a good late-inning manager?

  96. Hey, any reason for hope with Dan Uggla is good news. He’s here for the long haul.

  97. @200 Pena hurt his shoulder diving at a ball a few games ago, that’s what’s wrong with him.

    @193 Coming into today’s game Heyward is .314/.368/.500 for June, and he had two more hits today. Seems like he might be fixed already, though time will tell.

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