Braves 3, Mets 2

ESPN Box Score

A Julio Teheran v. Zack Wheeler matchup lived up to its billing, and the early innings sped right along while, as Don Sutton put it, both were pitching as if they were double parked.

Jason Heyward led off the game with a home run to left off Wheeler (I find it a little weird that both New York teams have a Z. Wheeler this year, the only two such players in MLB history. I know that’s completely irrelevant, but when the Braves aren’t giving you much on the field to keep you interested, you have to get creative.)

In the second, Wilmer Flores tied the game with a home run of his own. The Braves, however, wasted no time in taking the lead back the following inning, when Phil Gosselin singled, Freddie Freeman doubled, and Justin Upton grounded out to score Gosselin for a 2-1 lead. El Oso then hit a grounder to short, which Ruben Tejada failed to catch, allowing Freeman to cross with the Braves third run.

After giving up the homer, Teheran kept the Mets hitless through the 6th, allowing only a walk to mar his consecutive batters retired streak. He left in the 7th with one out and two on, and David Carpenter finished the inning without incident.

Jordan Walden pitched the 8th and made things interesting, giving up a hit, a walk, and a hit to allow the Mets to get within one run. A double play later, Andrelton Simmons saved the game with one of the best plays of his career. My thought process went “Dang! Tied game. Wait, wow, Simba got to that ball. Woah, he’s going to throw the ball. He…he…HE GOT THE OUT!!”

In the 9th, Craig Kimbrel didn’t want to make things too easy, allowing a hit and then falling behind 3-0 on the next hitter before walking him. A sacrifice bunt later, Gosselin got Eric Campbell out at the plate easily after the latter went on contact against a drawn in Braves infield. A popup later, Simba’s play had officially saved the game, and the Braves are once again tied with the Pirates a game out of a playoff spot. If the Braves grab a wildcard spot by one game this year, I think we can safely point to Andrelton as the reason why they made it. Seriously, if you didn’t see it, here’s the link one more time. You really don’t want to miss that one.

I’ve been trying to figure out how the 2013 Braves team was one of my favorite teams ever (I seriously loved that team) while the 2014 team has become one of the hardest for me to root for (I started watching in 1995, so I have no clue what it was like to root for a 70s or 80s team…) I mean, Uggla is the only everyday player who is no longer here, and last year these guys were a lovable bunch. The pitching staff and bench are nearly completely different, but a team’s bench has little bearing on how interesting the team is, and the pitching staff has not been the problem. My affection for the team started to wane with all of the weirdness at the end of last season (no one catching Chipper’s ceremonial first pitch, the team not feeling united in the Division Series, etc.), was somewhat revived with the rash of extensions that happened in February, but has been sorely lacking since Medlen went down. I was also a pretty big fan of Hudson and EOF, but I wouldn’t have thought their absences would affect how I feel about the whole team. Even when the Braves were more middle of the road at the end of last decade, I never felt so uninspired watching a game. What a weird season this has been.

Pirates, Giants, and Cardinals delenda est.
Natspo(s) SEMPER delenda est.

60 thoughts on “Braves 3, Mets 2”

  1. Andrelton, what can you say? It’s the second time this year he’s made an enormous late-inning play to win a game at Citi Field.

    A Couple Other Crucial Points in the Game: Just before Andrelton’s play in shallow LF to save the tying run, a shaky Walden induced a GIDP from Lucas Duda, who was blazing hot coming into this series. His AB was when I was most nervous about losing the game.

    Also, in the bottom of the 9th with runners on 2nd & 3rd and one out, Fredi decided to bring the infield in—going for the win vs. a depleted Mets club, but risking a loss with a well-placed grounder. He gambled right because Kimbrel got a dribbler to Gosselin, who easily threw the runner out at home. Big play there.

    Win 'em anyway we can. Let’s start the holiday weekend right with another big road win.

  2. I have to agree with you about not liking the Braves as a team. BJ is the only starter I dislike as a player and there aren’t any players I know enough about to dislike as people. Taken as a whole, we have 2 really good hitters (J Upton and Freeman), 1 above average hitter (Gattis, at least as a catcher), and 5 average hitters. They just seem incapable of working in sync as hitters for an extended period of time. Uninspiring is a good word for it.

  3. I’m not sure where to find the data to either back this feeling up or call BS on it. If you know, feel free.

    But anecdotally, it seems like the most fun Braves teams (2010 especially) stole a lot of games they had no business winning in the late innings. That’s fun! Guys jump up and down and generally seem to be having a lot of fun, you can be down late and feel like you still have a chance, etc.

    This team seems like it either wins or loses, esp. wins, by about the 6th inning. And they don’t really appear to be having fun, because they’re not dogpiling after crazy walk-off wins as much. I feel like the incidence of “we stole that one” games is down this year. If you can fact-check this hypothesis, you are better at internet than me. I might be wrong. But it’s a hunch.

  4. Yeah I don’t know what it is about this team. They really don’t seem to enjoy playing baseball, at least not outwardly. That makes them inherently unlikable for me, since playing this game for a living would be a fantasy world from my perspective.

    I don’t really care if they like each other, but if they don’t like the game then that bothers me. I could be way wrong, perception is not usually reality, but this is the vibe they give for me.

  5. #3
    I was actually thinking of a different play on d’Arnaud.

    It was a game a couple weeks later where Walden was pitching the 9th, bases loaded with 2 outs & the Braves up by 2. Ball gets hit deep in the hole—from my seat along 3B, it looked like it would get thru for a game-tying hit—but Andrelton backhanded it & made a perfect throw from the OF grass. Didn’t even look difficult (for him) on the replay, but in-person it was a beautiful thing.

    By now, Travis d’Arnaud has got to be seeing #19 in sleep.

  6. Teams that can’t score runs are generally not fun. This season, I’ve watched fewer Braves games than I have in years.

  7. @7 Seconded. Runners in scoring position 1 out and Simmons, Johnson and BJ due up is not quality entertainment.

  8. That play by Simmons is probably his best combination of “incredible” and “well-timed”.

    And it wasn’t even like his typical amazing play. He’s usually able to get to the ball and stop on a dime in order to get a lot on the throw. That wasn’t the case here, with his momentum pulling him directly away from 1B, so he had to do that weird jump/throw. But his arm was strong enough to 1-hop it on a line to Freeman, so GG.

    Just wow. What a play. No one else in the world makes that play. I hope ESPN or someone does one of those fancy camera things where they show you how far he went, how far he had to throw it, how hard he had to throw it, etc.

  9. The other amazing thing about the play is the route. The only time another shortstop even takes that route is to try and knock it down to stop a guy from scoring from 2nd, and there was nobody on second. But Simba instinctively chose a route that backs up on the ball. Who else would ever do that?

  10. The thing is, the runner wasn’t even that close to beating the throw either. There are no words.

  11. To ‘Rissa on why it is hard to like this team.

    Anther thing different from 2013 to this year is “growth and hope.” You can take a pretty good team and be really happy when you see it getting better and having potential to get even better. This year has shown that the 2013 performance may be the peak for this bunch. Some examples:

    1. Simmons offensive regression. I genuinely thought that last half 2013 Simmons was a reasonable approximation for what he would do in 2014.

    2. I knew Minor wasn’t quite the superstar he had looked like, but figured he was probably a solid 2. Until the last few weeks, he hasn’t been.

    3. Kimbrel has been very good, but not eerily otherworldly. That sounds like a minor thing, but it does affect “the mood.”

    4. Finding crap and making it into methane to burn for heat is a plus. Last year Chris Johnson was exciting for that reason. Although I disagree with the negativity associated with fans’ view of him this year, I do know that he certainly hasn’t added to positive vibrations this year.

    5. “found money”: Gattis, David Carpenter, Avilan, even Walden a little. People that had great years in 2013 that you didn’t see coming. La Stella and Gosselin are adding a little of that now, but who else and who earlier in the year?

    6. “lost money”: I saw a Talking Chop Article that really rated the Floyd signing low. Really? His injury was not predictable. BJ’s continuing ineptness, We all knew Uggla was done, but we had to watch 60 days of it. Doumit looked like a mild help with ability to pinch hit Gattis, but he has been useless.

    7. “no money”: Why did Uggla stay so long? So maybe somebody would take part of that contract. Why did BJ play so much. Combination of no bench alternatives (lack of money) and maybe somebody would take part of that contract (money).

    8. Heyward’s offensive problems. Before the jaw break, it looked like he had found a zone. But, rather than getting 90% of that tear (like I and many expected) we have alternated between 60 and 80 % of that tear.

    9. Freeman’s return to earth. I actually expected this, but I think many saw last year as the front end of an era.

  12. @12

    With you on everything, and have said as much here a few weeks ago.

    I do want to point out that the Talking Chop article you reference in #6 was terribly conceived, terribly judged, and unmemorably written and should be discounted out of hand as a tool for understanding our season.

  13. @12 – Your point #5 found money – This year its been Aaron Harang.

    Your point number one about Simmons offensive ineptitude. Simple explanation. It’s Walker/Fletcher’s fault.

    I didn’t get the criticism of the Floyd signing either. Before he got hurt I was thinking that Frank Wren was absolutely brilliant for finding so much starting pitching off of the scrap heap.

  14. Frank Wren & Co. (since you know the scouting department has a lot of input) seem at their best when rutting around in another teams cast-off pile. You can’t fault anyone when a pitcher breaks an elbow, but its doubtful the tandem of Wood & Hale and ??? would have done better than Harang & Santana.

    On another topic, Fredi has passed both Dave Bancroft 615 games and Fred Tenney, 616 games managed for the Braves.

    Bancroft, a HOF shortstop, served as player-manager in Boston 1924-27, posting a 249-363 mark.

    Tenney, who played primarily 1b from 1894 – 1911 served as player-manager 1905-07 and again in 1911. He posted a symmetrical 202-402 mark, with 1905 serving as the high point when the Beaneaters went 58-90. The other three seasons Boston lost more than 100 games. Tenney’s winning percentage, 0.3344, is the worst of any Braves franchise manager who lasted more than a single season.

    Both men managed 4 complete seasons, while Fredi is at 3.82 seasons (through last night).

  15. I think the criticism is that Floyd was unlikely to stay healthy and was a pretty large risk. Maybe that’s fair. I tend to think that it was worth a shot. Floyd looked really good for the few games that we saw him. Definitely worth a gamble.

  16. @6 Wow, it definitely sounds like d’Arnaud needs to pick on a different guy! Simmons can turn as many spectacular plays as he wants to, though, as long as d’Arnaud keeps hitting them that direction.

    @14 An amusing debate would be which Andrelton play is his best/most timely. I think we need to keep that topic in mind and start it up one day during the offseason when we get bored of hot stove chatter. Everyone would be right and wrong at the same time.

    Or, we should do a bracket style competition and vote between plays until we reach a winner. I might have to keep that idea in mind, and let that be my offseason BJ contribution.

  17. I am already looking past the playoffs to what should be a very interesting off season. I guess that’s me being a bad fan.

  18. Floyd was certainly an injury risk, but at $4 million, I think it was a perfectly reasonable bet. Considering how well he was pitching at the time, it was looking like it was going to work out much better than planned.

    The bigger problem is not the risks that they’re taking when signing injury-prone free agents — it’s that the training staff and coaching staff are presiding over more season-ending pitcher injuries than just about any team in baseball, and have been doing so for years, as Sansho1 used to document with depressing regularity. If you want a place to start soul-searching, the team seriously needs to start there.

  19. You can’t fault anyone when a pitcher breaks an elbow, but its doubtful the tandem of Wood & Hale and ??? would have done better than Harang & Santana.

    How quickly we forget Pickles Schlosser.

    Wow, it definitely sounds like d’Arnaud needs to pick on a different guy! Simmons can turn as many spectacular plays as he wants to, though, as long as d’Arnaud keeps hitting them that direction.

    It bears mentioning that d’Artagnan is the slowest of all the Musketeers and lends himself to this sort of abuse. If that were Juan Lagares Simmons pockets that ball.

  20. @14 Oh c’mon. The route on that play was preordained, the throw was shorter, it didn’t necessarily save a run. Don’t get me wrong — it was a great play; just not a play like last night’s.

  21. @20
    Floyd was worth 0.6 WAR for the Braves. If WAR is valued at 6MM, we sure got really close to breaking even!

  22. The thing about the Nat’s DP is that I’m still not sure how he got ANYTHING on his throw there. The angle he was running at, it looked like it was entirely elbow/wrist with 0 shoulder. I think if I tried to throw that way, the ball would go about 10 feet.

    Edit: And that’s the thing about Andrelton. He makes plays that you’ve never seen before. I’ve seen people make diving stops. I’ve seen people make leaping grabs into walls. I have never seen what he did yesterday. (Or for that matter, in the other play linked above.) Not running that far to get the ball, not throwing it from that distance with that amount of momentum. It’s unique, and it’s amazing, and if you want a reason to watch the 2014 Braves, I think that’s it.

  23. Oh it’s definitely in the same breath as last night’s. The fact that he was moving toward third on the fake bunt before having to book it the other way, making every movement count toward the whole play–and the fact that it came against the Nationals mitigates the fact that it didn’t save a run all by itself.

  24. Andrelton will tell you, and he is correct in this self-assessment, that his greatest defensive tool is his arm. He has the range of Ozzie Smith and the arm of Shawon Dunston. That’s a lethal, lethal combo. He’s not *quite* as smooth with the exchange so Rey Sanchez was, but that’s not exactly “faint praise.”

  25. Which is to say that both the DP against the Nats and last night’s play are about the same thing, IMHO. He ranges so far beyond what a normal player would get to on both plays – this is masked by his changing directions vs the Nats. Then he gets real mustard on a throw that he has no rights making at all. Last night he was flying into LF with his feet completely off the ground. (What Jeter’s patented “jump throw” looks like when it’s necessary because you’re in shallow LF behind the 3B.) Vs the Nats it was flying sideways across the bag toward RF, while throwing across his body, again with both legs off the ground.

    Both plays are astounding.

  26. @DOBrienAJC: #Braves Venters tore his elbow ligament again. Will have to decide whether to have a third Tommy John surgery if wants to pitch again.

  27. Shame about Venters. He was a stud, but a third time.

    Meanwhile EOF is sporting a .978 Whip.

  28. I’m taking my students to The Ted on Star Wars Night! They’re going to get to walk on the field in their Star Wars attire! They are PUMPED!

  29. How many more wins do we have this year if we keep Hudson and O’Flaherty? Does it cost us any less than what we’ve had to spend on a starting pitcher (Floyd, Harang, or Santana – take your pick) and Russell?

    I understand that the Braves were most concerned about a long term deal with both of those guys and O’Flaherty has only pitched in the second half of the year, but it still looks like a mistake to let both walk to me. I know hindsight is 20/20, but could not having one or both of those guys be the difference between us making the playoffs or not?

  30. Greetings from Flushing…

    I have never seen this joint so empty. Guess everyone started their holidays early.

    Let’s score some runs.

  31. If Mike keeps shutting them out, we’re in good shape; but it doesn’t look like we’re going to score again tonight.

  32. “See, Braves pitchers, if you want runs you have to start your own rallies.” —Mike Minor

  33. I think y’all were on to something at the beginning of this thread about the Braves not looking like they’re having fun. For example, I feel like last year Freddie was smiling ear to ear all the time, but this year I haven’t really seen that at all. I’ve thought it strange this season how when the cameras show him at the end of games waiting to high-5 the outfielders, he just stands there holding his glove, almost looking bored. Everyone else looks around or talks, but Freddie is like a Buckingham Palace guard.

    A friend of mine who is a Baltimore fan recently told me how enjoyable it has been to watch that team this year, saying “they have so much fun in the dugout and after walk offs.” I miss stuff like that. I think what this Braves team needs is a good dose of someone doing wacky stuff. Prado couldn’t have taught someone how to dump dirt on people’s heads before he left?

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