Braves 3, Mets 1 (By: Kyle B.)

The Braves quickly turned a nine-game winning streak into a four-game losing streak and were in danger of getting swept out of Flushing to close out a four-game series against the Mets. Despite the recent woes, the Braves entered play Thursday only a game back of Washington for the lead in the NL East.

As ryan crecently noted in the comments, the success during the winning streak had less to do with an offensive renaissance than consistently good starting pitching. As he noted, the team OBP remained virtually unchanged since the batting order was shaken up by manager Fredi Gonzalez. If the losing streak has demonstrated anything, it’s the team’s reliance on its arms. The offense simply isn’t consistent or dangerous enough to rescue an even mediocre start on the hill. During the four game losing streak, the Braves scored a total of eight runs, with no home runs, and no more than three runs crossing the plate in any single game.

While the Braves were all sorts of hot garbage in the first three games in Flushing, the team looked to Aaron Harang to help right the ship. The Mets countered with noted CrossFit enthusiast Bartolo Colon. The Braves struck early, putting two runs on the board in the top of the first, including an RBI double from Freddie Freeman and an RBI single from Jason Heyward.

The Braves had a chance to add to the lead in the second, but epic bunt failure by Harang lead to a killer double play which saw Christian Bethancourt get caught in a run down. (The inability to execute a bunt in the fourth inning would lead Joe Simpson to question his sanity and the meaning of life on the television broadcast. Joe would go all-in on his “Old Man Yells At Cloud” routine by telling some kids on cellphones in the stands to get off his lawn in the fifth inning.)

The Braves extended their lead to 3-0 in the third after consecutive singles by Andrelton Simmons and Freddie Freeman, followed by a ground out by Justin Upton. The Mets made the game 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning with a David Wright single that scored Eric Young, Jr., batting in the ninth slot of the New York lineup. Hibernation Mode would set in, and the game would end 3-1 with the Braves collecting their 50th win of the 2014 season.

Harang had a much needed quality start for the Braves, escaping the most trouble he faced in the fifth. He ended the night completing seven innings and allowing one run, yet walked four compared to two strikeouts. Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel pitched in relief to secure the win. In addition, the offense managed to string together hits when needed early in the game. The team ended the night with 10 hits, including multi-hit games from Simmons, Ramiro Pena (in at 3rd base), and Freeman.

The Nationals lost to the Orioles. Let’s head to Chicago, win some day games, and walk into the break with a lead in the NL East. The Mets are the worst.

103 thoughts on “Braves 3, Mets 1 (By: Kyle B.)”

  1. From the other thread:

    Y’all.
    Mike Trout has gone 4-4 so far in tonight’s game against the Rangers and hit his 21st home run of the year. That’s going to push his on-base percentage over .400 and his slugging over .600, unless this game goes 17 innings and he goes 0-6 the rest of the way. He plays a mean center field. He’s ten for ten stealing bases.
    I want nice things. I want Trouty things.

  2. @1, Gattis, Rob Cope and Uggla for Trout. I know it’ll be tough to lose Gattis, but you have to give something to get something. Throw in Hale if you have to. Let’s just get this done.

  3. “crossFit enthusiast”
    That was just what I needed to start the day, thank you.

  4. “CrossFit enthusiast Bartolo Colon” made me laugh out loud at my desk.

    I tip my cap to you for that one, Kyle B.

  5. I read that comment to my wife, who quite enjoyed the gif of Bartolo shaking his belly for his teammates in the dugout from earlier this year. Her reply: “I take it he prefers to dine on only the most physically-fit humans.”

  6. It’s a joke Edward, Chill out. I did not realize it’s unacceptable to say anything negative about Jason Heyward in your presence.

  7. You misunderstand me. I wasn’t rising to Heyward’s defense this time.

    I was marveling that you managed to take my innocuous comment about Mike Trout and turn it into a weird little poisonous slam on those of us who think Heyward is a really good baseball player. Unless I misunderstood you–in which case, I apologize for assuming the worst in your intentions. But I don’t think I misunderstood you.

  8. Also, @8, that’s a great piece. The screwball’s an interesting one. You never know what pitch blow up next. The most recent pitch to go entirely ubiquitous is the cutter. Don Cooper of the White Sox is famous for teaching it to any pitcher who needs help. The Diamondbacks had a strategy for a while that when a pitcher was about to bomb out of the system, they would try turning that pitcher into a sidearmer. For many pitching coaches, sliders have really replaced curves — they’re supposedly a lot easier to teach. We’ll see whether screwballs make a comeback. It’d certainly be cool.

  9. I don’t think the screwball has disappeared. Just been modified.

    Santiago’s grip is a circle change grip. He probably turns the inside of his hand down to a sharper extent, picks up more rotation, slows it down 5 mph, and gets it to break arm side an extra 4 or 5 inches.

    Glavine’s circle change broke like that, just not as intensely as a screwball.

  10. Remember when the rage was the split finger fastball? Once, I read an article where a pitching coach ruminated about what a great split finger he would have if he cut his middle finger off.

    So criticizing Heyward is a ‘a weird little poisonous slam’ on those who are still deluded into thinking he is a ‘really good baseball player’? – See now that’s a slam. :) Trigger a deluge of advanced statistics.

    Sorry Alex, I couldn’t resist, I’ll stop.

  11. You can get two pitches out of the circle change, just like the cutter. Same release, but vary the pressure in the grip and make a roller or a darter. I’ve heard that’s what Maddux did, made his circle change and his cutter in to 4 pitches, but threw a different type if he wanted a ground ball, or thought he’d get a guy swinging or looking. I imagine Glavine did the same with his circle change.

  12. The screwball clockwise rotation has been out of MLB for a while. Or maybe just the degree of the break so that it could be called a screwball rather than a change up. Apparently Santiago is the only guy in MLB that throws a pitch with enough of that movement for it to be called a screwball.

  13. The thing that you really can’t teach, as far as I understand, is movement. That’s why you can throw a cutter but you can’t throw Maddux’s cutter. I guess at a certain point, it’s a matter of feel and micropressure on the ball.

  14. 22 – Yeah it’s all a matter of degrees. You can ‘teach movement,’ because that’s what teaching pitches is; teaching how to use your hand to get the ball to move. But there’s natural pronation in the hinge of the wrist that might give a kid a miracle pitch or make throwing a true curveball impossible. You can tell a kid “So crook your pointer a little, and push your middle like your trying to wedge it under the seam,” and if that kid does what you say, he’ll throw something different from his two-seamer. But that kid just has to try it until he learns “when its good, it feels this way.” There’s just no teaching that last crucial part.

    But for a guy with just a savant-like awareness of his physical body, a guy who innately knows what his hands are doing, down to minute details, a guy like Greg Maddux, he can say “When it goes hard left, it feels like this, but when it slopes left, it feels like this. And then, when it goes straight down, it feels like this. And ooh, I can do this and kinda straighten it out. I bet I could get some called thirds on that!”

  15. Did Maddux’s cutter ‘cut’ from right to left as well as left to right? Did Rivera’s? I have always sort of wondered where the cutoff between a slider and a cutter or curve, slider etc is.

  16. I don’t know enough to know if there’s a pitch famous for being hard to learn. I suppose it’s probably different for everyone. For me, I could never throw a splitter. I was taught a kind of pre-load forearm flexion that I just could not wrap my head around, while making my body do the business of pitching.

    But the circle change and the cutter were like magic for me. I was taught to let my hand do the work, and that was just beautiful advice. Grip it right and throw it like a fastball.

  17. I quit junior year of high school. I was good when I was young and a natural aptitude was enough to separate me. But once I had to play against guys who had all had a natural aptitude, but also really REALLY wanted it, I wanted it less and less. Plus, music and girls.

    I was a starting-third-baseman, second-pitcher-out-of-two, level player on a not-great high school team. Never going to play college ball.

    I did play on a 21+ men’s team while I was in college though! I was great in that league!

    EDIT: If anyone remembers Braves prospect burn-out, Jake Stevens, I no-hit his team in legion ball! Those were my glory days.

  18. Also, Chris Johnson played in my school’s district. He played for a private Catholic school called Bishop Verot. We never played them when I was on the team though. But everyone knew about him and his ex-big leaguer dad.

  19. David Schoenfield had an interesting post a couple days ago about the Braves’ strength of schedule, and how it could help them reach the playoffs:

    All this means the remaining schedule for the playoff contenders could play a vital role in who wins the divisions and who wins the wild cards. So let’s see how many games each of the contenders has remaining against our six bad teams.

    Nationals (33) — Mets (13), Phillies (13), Rockies (3), Padres (4).
    Braves (27) — Mets (8), Phillies (9), Cubs (3), Padres (7). They also have three against AL weakling Texas.

    Brewers (19) — Mets (4), Phillies (2), Cubs (10), Padres (3).
    Cardinals (26) — Phillies (3), Cubs (10), Padres (7), Rockies (3), Diamondbacks (3).
    Reds (18) — Mets (3), Cubs (8), Rockies (4), Diamondbacks (3).
    Pirates (23) — Phillies (4), Cubs (6), Padres (3), Rockies (6), Diamondbacks (4).

    Dodgers (31) — Cubs (7), Padres (13), Rockies (6), Diamondbacks (5).
    Giants (37) — Mets (4), Phillies (7), Cubs (3), Padres (7), Rockies (7), Diamondbacks (9).

    The Nats have more games against bad teams than we do, but we have more than all of the NL Central contenders. In other words, this gives us a better chance at the Wild Card than any of the teams in the Central.

  20. So did you play on the travel teams that played 250 games a year?

    My post @18 should have said ‘trigger a deluge of advanced DEFENSIVE statistics’.

  21. No I didn’t. I played travel ball for a less exclusive team, pre-high school, but not one of those that travels the country. I played year round, but probably 90 games a year.

  22. @31

    And we have more games against the Nats than any other contender.

    @32

    From someone else, Johnny, I’m taking the rest of the day off.

  23. No, other coast. I don’t know if Larry Wayne went to Stetson, before he coached there, but if he did, he’d probably have overlapped with my dad there.

  24. Yeah Larry Jones did graduate from Stetson, played shortstop. My dad was there from 68-72, I wonder if they over-lapped? Chipper was born in 72, so it might be close.

  25. Our August schedule looks pretty brutal to me. Plus we’re barely above .500 against the Mets and Phillies so I’m not going to assume we just steamroll the “bad” teams. Until we start scoring runs I’m going to worry that we’re closer to one of the “bad” teams than a real playoff contender.

    I guess I just need to lighten up and get on board the Aaron Harang victory train.

  26. @38 – Or join the Anon21 sell the team off for 2016 train. j/k Its hard to get enthused about this group. I get it. God dang, losing 3 out of 4 to the Mets…..

  27. @17 I threw my circle change somewhat like a screwball. That’s how I was taught, to turn my hand over to get it to run away from righties. But it was a slight roll rather than a snap.

  28. @41- Yeah I was taught to let it kind of slip out of the side of your hand, and you got hand-side run out of it. I figured out later the way you’re describing, to roll my wrist a little and you got more of a break than a run.

  29. Per DOB: Gattis cleared to do more strenuous activities, will start rehab stint in Rome early next week if all goes well.

    Today’s shut-out victims, er…lineup:

    Schafer 8, Simmons 6, Freeman 3, JUpton 7, Heyward 9, Johnson 5, LaStella 4, Bethancourt 2, Wood 1

  30. I’ve been thinking, we may need to discontinue the use of the phrase “hibernation mode” to describe this offense because the phrase implies that our offense is in fact capable of waking up.

  31. If Schafer could get on base on a regular basis, I bet he would average 70 steals a season. The kid can straight up fly.

  32. It didn’t matter, but that was terrible baserunning by Schafer. Oh well…we got our two runs.

  33. Saw on Fangraphs that Wood’s average fastball velocity is down about 1.5 MPH from last year.

  34. It’d be a nice surprise if our offense bailed out Wood and Shae, but realistically, our chance was to hold them at two runs.

  35. So, Rondon is all over the place to Heyward, and what does CJ do? Swing at the first frickin’ pitch.

    And so does La Stella. Come on, Tommy, you know better than that.

  36. Seriously? We just let the Cubs beat us after we came back to tie it up? Pathetic.

  37. @82

    I hear you, but Kimbrel would’ve been in the game if our offense could’ve cashed in on more than one of those runner at 2nd, nobody out situations that the Cubs were just tossing our direction the whole game.

  38. Can’t blame Andrelton for that. Walden was useless that inning. He can’t hold runners either.

    Trade him while he’s healthy for a 3b or a bench bat.

  39. CSG, an hour ago I would have not agreed with you,
    now I think your correct. If we could flip him for a Lefty reliever it may be worth it.
    He is a good reliever though so he could get a decent return.

  40. @14,

    Edward,

    It was meant to be a joke. I did mean it to be a little teasing but not to be malicious. I apologize if it came off that way.

    I continue to be amazed at managers-and virtually all do this-who save their best pitcher for a save situation that often does not arise. I can’t really slam Fredi since they all do it, but why can’t they get it through their heads that it makes no sense? But, really, two outs and no one on and Walden can’t get another out?

  41. The Nats won’t be out-sucked, it seems. Domonic Brown doubles (!!) off Jordan Zimmermann (!!!), 2-0 Phils.

  42. I wonder if a team would be desperate enough for something as common as relief pitching, that they would surrender a competent third baseman, to get Jordan Walden and Chris Johnson?

  43. That was four more runs than I thought we’d score. File it under moral victory.

    BTW, if I’m managing against us I would never throw Freeman a strike.

  44. I thought Walden in the 9th should have been ok. I would have been pissed if Kimbrel didn’t have the 10th though. But, we don’t have to worry about the 10th any more.

  45. Christian Bethancourt and Chris Johnson to Texas for Adrian Beltre. Maybe sweeten the deal with some pitching to get cash to pay Beltre. He makes $18m next year with a $16m option the following year.

  46. Wow. Jordan Zimmermann just walked off the mound after throwing a pitch. What a year.

  47. They’re calling it a bicep cramp for now. Precautionary MRI later.

    But they’ve already pulled him from the All Star game.

  48. I read that he was wiggling his fingers as he walked off the field, which to me would indicate an issue with sensation, i.e. nerve involvement. And the ulnar nerve does run right next to the UCL…Could be something minor, or could be a precursor to something not-so-minor. Wait and see, I suppose.

  49. Walden missed the target pretty badly giving up the game winner. Stupid Walden. Stupid, stupid Walden.

    He and Mike Minor and Navidad should go open an Italian restaurant.

  50. Well, the Phillies have won five in a row and are only 8 out. I bet this means they will hold onto their players and try to make a run. What a lousy division this is. The Braves and Nats are both the definitions of mediocrity.

  51. Well, the Phillies have won five in a row and are only 8 out. I bet this means they will hold onto their players and try to make a run. What a lousy division this is. The Braves and Nats are both the definitions of mediocrity.

  52. I hope the Braves take a few Cubs with them when they leave, and leave a few Braves behind.

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