Coming off the All-Star break, the Mets looked to hit the ground running like they did to start the 2012 season. Instead, they did just the opposite, playing three poor excuses for baseball games across the board as the Braves completed the sweep of the Mets today by a final score of 6-1.
Following one of the aces getting rocked in Atlanta, the other [Johan Santana] took the hill to play stopper. Going toe-to-toe with Ben Sheets who was making his first start in two years, it appeared that the Mets would have the advantage in this one. However, the Amazin’ lineup continuing the recent stretch of making average pitchers look like Cy-Young contenders, the game remained scoreless through the first four frames.
Then came the bottom of the fifth. Matt Diaz led it off with a double, which was followed by a walk to Paul Janish on some questionable calls by none other than home plate umpire CB Bucknor. The controversy with Buckner became a larger focal point of the inning when Santana had already begun his delivery and was in the process of releasing the pitch when Michael Bourne had stepped out of the batters box while asking for time. Instead of calling the pitch a strike (which would have resulted in a strikeout) Bucknor granted Bourne’s time very late, wasting a nice pitch from Santana. Bucknor then called a two-seamer on the corner from Santana a ball, setting up a 2-2 count before Bourne ripped a double to drive in the first run of the game.
Dan Warthen then came out to argue and according to him, when Bucknor asked if he was arguing balls and strikes, Warthen didn’t answer his question but instead replied with a “quip”. Bucknor took that quip as an “affirmative” and tossed him from the game. Warthen stated in post game that his intention was to have a word with Bucknor when he left the dugout and not to go to talk to Santana. He also said he expected to be ejected once he left the dugout, which of course was the result.
From there, Santana’s night just got uglier as that opened the door for a Martin Prado sac fly, a Jason Heyward RBI single and capped off by a Freddie Freeman three-run bomb to make it a 6-0 game before Santana retired the side. Santana ended his day with a final line of five innings pitched allowing six runs (all earned) on eight hits, walking two and striking out three, taking the loss to fall to 6-6 on the year while boosting his ERA to 3.59.
After that the game was pretty much over. Scott Hairston had himself a one out double and was brought home by Andres Torres to score the only run for the Mets of the ballgame. They tried to rally in the ninth, but two fabulous grabs surprisingly by Matt Diaz silenced the bats to hand the Braves the sweep of Flushing’s finest by a final score of 6-1.
Goat of the Game:
CB Bucknor, for continuing to solidify himself as the worst umpire in the game. His awful calls gave the Braves two extra outs in the fifth and gave Bourne two extra chances alone. Why he is still a major league umpire is beyond me. It seems everytime he is calling a game, there is always controversy. His lack of ability as an umpire makes me want to side with those who wish to bring automated strike zones into the game.
-After taking a Golden Sombrero last night, David Wright continued to be stifled, going 0-2 with two walks in the loss.
-In his first start in two seasons, Ben Sheets shut out the Mets over six innings, picking up his first win since 2010.
-Mets pitching needs to find the strikezone, even if the umpires are wrong. They walked 20 batters and allowed 21 runs this series. That’s not going to cut it.
-Miguel Batista warmed up for several innings in the ‘pen today as Collins seems to be using him quite liberally. Could this be a sign that the Mets are leaning towards Harvey?
-Mike Baxter went 2-2 with a double and two RBIs in his first rehab start in St. Lucie while Jason Bay went 2-4 with a stolen base in his rehab start in Buffalo.
Now at just three games over .500, the Mets take a breather on Monday before heading off to Washington turn to Jonathon Niese to take on the division-leading Nationals in what could be a do or die series for the Amazin’s Tuesday at 7:10pm.