Don't Mess With The Johan: Santana Shuts Down Braves, 3-0

Well, that was not a fun way to end the first half... but let's look at the bright side. The Braves still won the series, and they still go into the All-Star Break with a 4-game lead in the NL East.

Johan Santana was pretty darn good today. He was keeping the ball up, knowing that even if we hit the ball hard in the air, Citi Field was big enough to hold them. And sure enough, he got us to pop up constantly. Fourteen of the twenty balls the Braves hit in play off of Johan were fly balls. And most of them were pop-ups, seemingly.

Only three Braves--Omar Infante, Matt Diaz, and Melky Cabrera--had hits today. Omar had 2 hits, giving him 9 for the series. Diaz continued his excellent work against Santana with 2 more hits (he's batting over .500 off Johan in his career). Melky had the Braves' only extra-base hit, a bloop double down the right-field line that caused Jeff Francoeur to hilariously crash into the wall and flip over.

It would've been really nice to win today, but sometimes a guy is just too good. That was the case with Johan today. His final line was 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 H, 5 K, and a 0.428 WPA. The Mets' bullpen held the Braves hitless for the last two innings to close it out.

Braves' starter Derek Lowe flirted with disaster all game but somehow avoided any major damage. His sinker wasn't sinking at all (only 6/18 ground balls) and he had trouble controlling it. Still, he gave up only 2 runs, on an Alex Cora RBI single in the third and a solo homer by Ike Davis in the 6th. His final line was 5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 BB, 4 K, and a 0.007 WPA. Despite that slightly positive pitching WPA, Lowe still had the worst WPA on the Braves because he was so terrible at the plate, including an awful bunt that got a runner thrown out at third.

The Mets added a third run off of Takashi Saito in the 8th.

Martin Prado had another 0/4 today, making him hitless for the series. I'm sure he'll be fine after the All-Star break, though. Despite the game, I'm sure he'll appreciate not having to play more than 5-6 innings in a 3 day stretch. Chipper, Yunel, and Glaus also went 0/4; I'm sure all those guys could use the days off as well, as beat up as they've been.

Anyway, I hope everyone can put this game behind them and focus on the fact that we've got a nice lead in the division and have lost only 1 series in the past 2 months. It's going to be a fun second half!

Awards

MVP
Johan Santana (duh)

Honorable Mention
Ike Davis-- 2/3, BB, HR, R, RBI, K, 0.113 WPA
Angel Pagan-- 3/5, 3B, R, K, 0.034 WPA (that dude killed us in this series)

LVP
Derek Lowe (for his hitting)-- 0/2, failed sac bunt, bases-loaded K, -0.161 WPA

MVP in a Losing Effort
Melky Cabrera-- 1/3, BB, 2B, 0.073 WPA (I guess... there weren't any really good candidates.)

Clutch Plays
Cora's RBI single to open the scoring (0.108 WPA) and Davis' homer (0.106)

Unclutch Play
Lowe striking out with the bases loaded to end the 4th (-0.095)

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