The Mets (8-9) lost to the Braves (12-5) by a score of 7-5 tonight at Citi Field.
Ervin Santana got the start for Atlanta, and he ran into early trouble by giving up a walk and a stolen base to Eric Young, which was followed by an RBI single from David Wright that give the Mets a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Santana again found himself in a jam in the second inning when Lucas Duda led off the inning by doubling to center and reaching third on an error.
And that, of course, is when the shenanigans began. The next hitter, Travis d’Arnaud, hit a grounder to Andrelton Simmons, who just might be the best defensive player in baseball. Duda was running on contact, which seemed odd at the time because there were no outs and Duda is, to put it nicely, a bit slow. Wait, this blog isn’t owned by the Mets and I can say whatever I want? Okay then… Duda is very, very, very slow. Duda was thrown out at the plate and the Mets failed to score in the inning.
Bartolo Colon, who had gotten the start for New York, continued a very frustrating half-hour by coughing up the lead in the next frame. With two out and a man on first, Colon walked BJ Upton. When you let BJ Upton reach base, bad things happen. The next batter, Freddie Freeman, hit a ball that seemed to glance off of his foot before bouncing towards Colon. The umps ruled it a fair ball, and Colon’s errant throw to first brought home two runs and put Atlanta ahead 2-1. Freeman resumed his daily Met-Mashing in the 5th, when his double to right field chased home Jason Heyward to make it 3-1.
The Mets caught another bad break in the bottom of the 6th. After Daniel Murphy singled, Curtis Granderson popped one up near the middle of the diamond. The Braves suffered a miscommunication and let the ball drop, but, not to be outdone, the Mets still failed to capitalize as Daniel Murphy— who had been trotting back to first— was thrown out at second base on the play.
Colon settled down as the game wore on and exited after 7 innings. Kirk Nieuwenhuis pinch hit for Bartolo in the bottom of the 7th with 2 men on, but he and Eric Young both failed to get the job done, and the Mets headed into the 8th still down by a pair.
The Mets made a bit of noise in the 8th off of David Carpenter. Murphy and Wright led off the inning with singles before Granderson popped out. Chris Young, making his season debut, ripped a single to left to score Murphy and make it a 2-run ballgame, and Lucas Duda nearly gave the Mets a lead with a deep drive to right which was caught on the warning track. This was the second time in the game Lucas had hit a ball hard only to see it die just before it got to the wall. Travis followed up Duda’s near-homer with a single to right to bring in Wright and move Young to third, setting the table for Ruben Tejada with the Mets now down 4-3. Terry Collins made the questionable decision not to pinch-hit for Ruben, and the struggling shortstop hit a weak ground ball to second to end the Mets’ threat.
Jose Valverde entered in a non-save situation and tried to keep it a 1-run game. He failed miserably. Jordan Schafer led off the inning with a ground ball which Valverde failed to field properly, and Jose’s error, just like Bartolo’s, would come back to haunt the Mets. After Valverde retired the next two hitters and walked Freeman intentionally, Justin Upton came to the plate with a chance to provide the Braves with some huge insurance runs. The Talented Upton Brother hit a deep drive to center which, unlike Duda’s drives, had the blessing of the Baseball Gods (who we have apparently angered in recent years) and cleared the wall by a few feet to make it 7-3 Atlanta.
The Mets fought back in the ninth off of superstar closer Craig Kimbrel. With 1 out, Eric Young was hit by a pitch and Murphy singled, setting the table for David Wright. David doubled to score EY and move Murphy to 3rd, before Granderson, of course, struck out to stop the Mets’ momentum. Chris Young kept New York alive with an RBI single– his 3rd hit of the night– that scored Eric Young and moved David to third. After Chris stole second and Lucas Duda drew a walk to load the bases, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made a gutsy move, pulling Kimbrel and bringing in Jordan Walden. Travis d’Arnaud fell behind in the count before grounding one towards the hole at short. Unfortunately, “the hole at short” doesn’t really exist when Andrelton Simmons is involved, and Simmons made a great play to snag the ball on the run, plant, and unleash a strong throw to first to end the game.
Tonight’s loss seemed scripted. It really did. The Mets passed up several scoring chances, made some sloppy plays in the field, handed out insurance runs like they meant nothing, and, of course, felt the sting of those insurance runs by making the best comeback attempt they could possibly make without actually coming back. Meet the Mets, everybody…
Granderson drives me nuts. I hated him as a Yankee and was hoping he could convert me with strong play in Queens, but he has been terrible so far. He hits the ball hard on occasion, but strikes out too much and makes far too many “unproductive outs”. Hopefully he’ll turn it around, but he’s not playing in that bandbox in the Bronx anymore so it might not be as easy as you would think. I’ll try to be patient with him…
Errors from pitchers always seem to end up costing you dearly. Colon’s error gave the Braves 2 runs and Valverde’s helped them get 3 more. Let’s not forget that there was a wild pitch which led to another Atlanta run… when you give away so many runs and then lose in what ends up being a close game, it’s not hard to pinpoint the reason for the loss.
Valverde has been miserable lately. The Raul Ibañez home run in the playoffs a few years back threw Valverde off track, and it looks like Raul may have gotten in his head again when he took Jose deep in Anaheim last week. That’s 4 home runs allowed in the last 3 outings for Valverde, whose grasp on the closer job is getting looser with each passing day.
Travis d’Arnaud seems to always come up in huge situations. He did a pretty nice job today, getting 2 hits and nearly tying it up on the game’s final play. He’s been better of late, and he’s starting to make good contact. Let’s hope he can really hit his stride soon.
Duda crushed the ball tonight, but he didn’t have much to show for it. Still, it’s nice to see that he’s making solid contact, keeping a level head in big situations, and giving the Mets a much-needed power threat in their lineup.
I liked what I saw from Chris Young tonight. CY (can we call him that?) had 3 hits and 2 RBI, and looked comfortable in the field and on the basepaths. He was good in Spring Training before getting injured, so let’s hope he can stay on the field and stay in rhythm.
Daniel Murphy and David Wright each had 3 hits tonight as well. Overall, the Mets had a solid total of 13, which is encouraging after the offensive debacle on Friday. David has been pretty hot lately, and he now has his average back up to 286.
The Mets seem to do pretty well against Craig Kimbrel. Of course, for every all-star pitcher that we treat like a journeyman, we treat 5 journeymen like all-stars, so we can’t get too excited about that. But it is nice to see that the Mets don’t shrink and give in to the most dominant, intimidating closer in the game.
This was a tough loss, but there were some positive signs. This isn’t a team that can afford to do the little things wrong, so let’s hope the Mets sharpen up their play going forward.
Up next: The Mets will look to salvage the final game of their series with the Braves on Easter Sunday. Zack Wheeler (1-2, 4.67 ERA) will face off against David Hale (0-0, 2.89 ERA) in the 1:10 PM matchup at Citi Field.