Mike Minor is statistically the Braves’ best starting pitcher this year and, ERA-wise, the fifth-best since mid-season last year (Kris Medlen is still first on that list). And yet, I don’t fully trust him. Maybe it’s the vacillating self-confidence. Maybe it’s the chin beard ripped off from Mr. Spock’s evil twin in “Mirror, Mirror.” Maybe it’s the fact that he went six innings plus two batters, struck out six, and gave up nine hits, including three home runs (two to David Wright, which, Good Lord, with their lineup, why are you pitching to that guy? Also, David: Call me.). Whatever the reason, The Commodore (as some have nicknamed him) was not at his best, giving up four runs for the second straight game.
Wright’s first homer came in the top of the 1st, and for a bit it looked like the hometown side would give as good as it got. Tyler Pastornicky, summoned from Gwinnett because Dan Uggla all of a sudden has vision problems (caused by “a stigmatism” that dates back to “late last year,” according to Dig Dug via Jeff Schultz of the AJC) and might need Lasik surgery, led off with an infield hit. Jason Heyward, determined to fool us into thinking he’s back, followed that with a double to center, and Justin Upton blooped in the first run. Hey, no worries! We’re totally in this!
After a nothing second inning and a top of the 3rd that featured what our own BrianJ called a “Sesame Street double play” (a.k.a. 1-2-3), Fab Five Freddie Freeman and Justin knocked liners to the outfield and came around to score on hits from Chris Johnson (remember that name) and Gerald Laird. (At one point in the broadcast Chip Carey praised Laird for never having complained about losing playing time to Gattis. Chip obviously hasn’t read the papers in the last couple of weeks.) Now we’re up by two! We’re totally gonna win this!
We totally weren’t.
Top 4, Wright hits his second homer of the night off Mikey, who’s suddenly not looking so top-5. Bottom 4, Niese pulls up lame in the middle of pitching to the Rev; it looks to the world like he’s touching his right oblique, but the Mets insist later it’s tendonitis in his shoulder. You might be forgiven for being ambivalent at this point in the game about what such a development means for the Braves, because while we’re getting hits, at some point it becomes clear that they’re all singles. The best home-run hitting team in the National League is suddenly hitting like…well, like the Mets. (IWOTB?)
David Aardsma finishes the inning. Pinch-hitter Andrew Brown hits a leadoff homer in the top of the 5th. Atlanta mostly stops hitting at all. By the time Omar Quintanilla leads off the 7th with a double and comes around to score, you can tell it doesn’t matter. The real story: The Braves out-hit New York 13-9, but only one of those hits is for extra bases (Laird’s second inning leadoff double); the (un)vaunted Metropolitans bullpen picks up their fallen comrade with galling ease. Even more galling, Chris “I’m kinda digging the chin beard thing too” Johnson commits three errors – two on one play, one on the botched catch and one on the botched throw. He is the first Brave to do so, we are informed, since Juan “Gone” Francisco. Which makes one feel super-confident about our third base situation. (Seriously, Captain America, CALL ME.) And for the second time in a week, Fredi Gonzalez pulls a move that shall heretofore be referred to as “The Fredi” (hat tip to krussell) and leaves his starting pitcher in to hit leading off an inning (the 6th in this instance), only to pull him after two batters and no outs in the next half. I’m not normally a Fredi-basher – I think he’s show a real ability to learn from his mistakes – and obviously the guy can’t see into the future, but damn.
Oh, and did I mention that it’s B.J. Upton bobblehead night? Which our $75M center fielder (bumped up to the five spot in the batting order for the occasion) celebrates by going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts?
Whatever. This interminable, excruciating ordeal of a series is over. Now all that remains is for us, the living, to pick up the pieces of our shattered lives and move on.
Love means Melvin Junior never having to say he’s sorry.