Freddie Freeman started the game on the bench, with Nick Swisher at 1st. Bartolo Colon started the game retiring the first 14 Braves batters he saw. The Williames started the game giving up two runs and sprinkling seven hits over six innings.
This one seemed destined to follow the storyline of “back to normalcy”. After a most improbable win in Game 2, the Braves started the rubber game of the series looking like they were more focused on Thursday’s off day than any of the action going on between the chalk lines. The chances of them pulling off a come-back win seemed slim to none. Yawn. Braves fans had seen this one before. Mets fans were already congratulating themselves on their team snapping out of their recent skid and righting the ship.
As Colon strolled to the mound for the 7th inning, disaster seemed as remote as the Siberian wastelands. He has owned the Braves this season, he was owning them tonight, and the forty-two-year old seemed destined to pick up win number 15.
Then A.J. Pierzynski and Andrelton Simmons led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and the eight Braves fans who still had the game on in the background glanced lazily toward the screen, wondering distractedly how the Braves would manage to blow this opportunity. Jace Peterson, who had broken up Colon’s perfect game in the 5th, hit a fly ball to center field for the first out, and Braves fans went back to what they had been doing. The threat had been fun while it lasted.
Cameron Maybin, however, failed to get the memo that the Braves were rolling over and playing dead, and he singled to load the bases and chase Colon. Addison Reed entered the game and walked Michael Bourn on five pitches, only the umpire put up the wrong hand and Bourn found himself staring at a full count rather than first base. Nonplussed, Bourn sent the next pitch into left field to put the Braves on the board.
This surprising development was not in the blueprint for the game, but the Mets still had a one-run lead so it was a mere wrinkle in the grand scheme of things. Then The Offense stepped to the plate to pinch hit, and suddenly the 2013 Braves reemerged. On a 0-2 pitch, Freddie sent the ball to the right field wall for a solid double to pick up two RBI and give the Braves the lead. An intentional walk to Nick Markakis and a Hector Olivera double play restored some sanity to the game, but the Braves took the field in the bottom of the 7th blinking in the light of a scoreboard that showed a larger number next to their name than their opponent. Where did this crazy narrative come from?
The unfamiliarity of the situation was a little disconcerting, but comfort was quickly restored when the Mets led off with a single, then had our old pal Eric Young swipe second base and score a manufactured run to tie the game. A-B-C Baseball. Breath easier, Braves Nation. Comeback wins would bring a little more excitement than is healthy for our constitution, and the Braves bullpen, out of concern for our well-being, were obliging us with Mets runs.
Then The Offense spoke again, that Mets-killer of old, and sent a dagger through the collective hearts of Mets fans. A Peterson strikeout to begin the 9th was an inauspicious start to a most unbelievable occurrence. A Maybin single and Bourn walk (for real this time!) set the stage for our hero to complete his heroics. Freddie stepped
into a phone booth up to the plate and sent an 0-1 pitch into the left center field stands. Enter the game in the 7th, pick up 5 RBI. No biggie.
Mayhem in the homes of the three Braves fans who stuck it out after the Mets came back to tie it! Shock and despair in the stadium seats in Flushing!
A sweet double play in the bottom of the inning sealed the deal and gave the Braves the series win. On the road. All because of back-to-back victories. On the road. That had not happened since July 6-7 in Milwaukee. It’s nice to see you again, old back-to-back-road-wins friend. It’s been awhile.
Yogi was right after all. It really ain’t over ’til it’s over.
The even better news of the evening was that Baltimore held the Nationals in check in D.C., so the World Series Champs TM did not gain any ground in the East.
Okay, Mets. Thanks for giving us one cool moment in the second half of this Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad season. Now don’t lose any more for the rest of the season, and keep those Nats home in October. Then immediately lose three games in the division series.
You know what would bring some joy into this season? For the Braves to eliminate the Nats in Atlanta next week. The Mets magic number is 5, which means that wish is a real possibility. How about it, Braves? And (selfish request), how about next Wednesday, so I can recap the brightest moment of this season? That would be fun.
Natspos delenda est. Semper.