Man is this team fun right now. The Braves squandered a 4 run lead, but came on strong to come from behind and defeat the Mets 9-5. Everyone contributed—homers by Albies, Donaldson (#30), and Freeman (#35, his career high), two hits by Ortega, Acuña with the go ahead RBI’s on an 8th inning hit, four shutout innings from the bullpen (Tomlin 2, Martin, and Greene). But the clear star of the game was Francisco Cervelli. More on him later.
Fried was the starter, and he was not exactly Maximum, but he was somewhere above Minimum. He had been given a 4 run lead, on a Cervelli (who, you ask?) double in the second that plated two, and then solo shots by Ozzie and Donaldson in the third. Max looked quite good through 4, giving up one run on three hits. In the bottom of the 5th, he had a runner on and two outs, but gave up consecutive singles to Rosario and Panik. That brought Alonso to the plate, who crushed one 450 feet to center field and gave the Mets a 5-4 lead.
Fried may not have been Pontifex Maximus, but the newest Brave was well nigh infallible. His Holiness Papa Francisco Cervelli was the story of the game. Cisco was 4 for 5 on the night with 3 doubles and 3 runs batted in. He also threw out a runner trying to steal second from his knees. (If you check the box score, it may show that he went 3 for 5. The ball he hit in his third at bat the official scorer called a 2 base error by Frazier. But it was shot down the line that Frazier barely had time to react to—9 out of 10 official scorers would have called that a hit, so I’m going to assume that the Scorer will reconsider in the next few hours. For now, we’ll go with 4 for 5.)
Speaking of new guys, Billy Hamilton had a crucial hit for the second night in a row. Are we sure this is the former Cincinnati Red? He’s looking more like Hall of Famer Sliding Billy Hamilton. In fact, he scored from first on Acuna’s go ahead single in the 8th. Shades of Enos Slaughter.
It’s now clear that the key for the Braves is to keep scouring the waiver wires for under-performing veterans who’ve been released by last place teams. The player must be hitting at or below the Mendoza Line–that’s the main reason they’ve been released, of course. Hechavarria, Hamilton, now Cervelli. No one could have predicted this. On the other hand, I’ll feel even better when Swanson, Riley, and McCann are back.
And how about that bullpen? It was exactly two weeks ago that the bullpen hit its nadir, with the horrific meltdown in Miami. Since then, they have been nearly perfect, and the Braves have won 10 of 12.
Words I never thought I’d write: I miss Jeff Francouer. Frenchy was one of the most frustrating players in the history of my fandom, but he’s really grown on me as announcer. Glavine was one of my favorite pitchers ever, and he provides valuable insight into pitching, but Frenchy provides humor that’s sorely lacking when it’s just Chip and Glavine.
I know this was only the Mets, but I take particular pleasure every time the Braves defeat the Mets. The 1969 National League Championship Series was one of the big disappointments of my youth. I was a teenager, so I had a lot of disappointments, but this one stuck with me. So every victory over the Mutts is vengeance, and I never tire of it.
Braves go for the sweep Sunday behind Kuechel.