After Chipper Jones was announced as a late scratch due to back spasms (he's listed as day-to-day, but isn't he always?), the Braves' lineup seemed somewhat... sparse. The chief source of concern I saw was about the 2nd and 3rd slots in the lineup: Melky Cabrera and Omar Infante, respectively. Melky has obviously struggled in a Braves uniform, and Omar (for all his myriad virtues) is not exactly your prototypical #3 hitter.
Well, let's just say that our fears were unfounded, at least for one night. Melky and Omar combined for 7 of the Braves' 12 hits and scored all 4 of the Braves' runs. Their crowning moments came in the 7th inning, when they hit back-to-back solo homers off of Mets starter R.A. Dickey to turn a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 Braves lead. And all this from two guys with 3 combined homers coming into tonight!
Before giving up the tie-breaking homers, Dickey had used his knuckleball to frustrate the Braves' hitters for much of the night. He gave up a few hits but no one other than Melky and Omar seemed to hit the ball hard against him. The Braves once again scored in the first inning, the 5th straight game in which they have done so. Cabrera came around to score when Jose Reyes booted an easy ground ball up the middle. Troy Glaus singled in Infante in the 5th for the Braves' 2nd run. All in all, it was a decent night for Dickey, at least until the homers in the 7th. His final line was: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 HR, 2 BB (1 IBB), 6 K, and a -0.227 WPA.
Braves starter Tommy Hanson was not spectacular, either, but he got the job done and kept the Braves in the game. If he could have just gotten Dickey out, he might not have given up any runs. Unfortunately, Dickey singled and scored on a David Wright sacrifice fly in the 3rd, then singled and scored on a Jose Reyes double in the fifth. In each case, Dickey scored the tying run.
Tommy only gave up 5 hits to the Mets' position players--really, it should have been 4, but Yunel Escobar called for a popup that he subsequently lost in the lights, resulting in a double. He threw too many pitches, which contributed to him being pulled before the end of the 6th inning, but other than that it was a solid outing. His line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 6 K, and a -0.014 WPA.
The Braves' bullpen was its usual stellar self, giving up only 1 hit in the last 3.1 innings, striking out 3. Eric O'Flaherty got the last out of the 6th, Jonny Venters worked a perfect 7th, Takashi Saito worked around some wildness in a scoreless 8th, and Billy Wagner made quick work of the Mets in the 9th for his 20th save.
All in all, it was an excellent start to the last series of the first half. The Braves now have a 4-game lead in the NL East. And they did it by riding the bats of two unsung heroes*.
* Actually, that's not accurate. Omar has to be a "sung" hero now that he's on the all-star team, and Melky has been... not unsung, since that implies he made under-the-radar contributions. More like anti-sung. OK, so let's just say the Braves won tonight because of their unexpectedly-sung hero and their anti-sung hero.
Bravo, boys. Let's do it again tomorrow.
Melky Cabrera-- 3/5, HR, 2 R, RBI, SB, .240 WPA
Omar Infante-- 4/5, HR, 2 R, RBI, CS, .180 WPA
Troy Glaus-- 1/4, BB, RBI, ROE that drove in the first run, .152 WPA
Jeff Francoeur-- 0/4, -0.175 WPA
MVP in a Losing Effort
No great candidates (the best hitters by WPA were Dickey, who had a bad WPA pitching, and Reyes, who made an error that caused a run to score)... Let's go with Angel Pagan-- 2/5, SB, 2 K, 0.050 WPA.
Melky's tie-breaking homer in the 7th (0.226 WPA)
No really bad ones, but Frenchy's line-out to end the 8th (-0.090 WPA) was the worst.