To many Braves fans, the only thing worse than having to put up with the perpetual struggles of players like Jeff Francoeur and Manny Acosta on your team is to have them go to the Mets (the METS) and then come back into town and beat you. For all the lumps those two have taken from this neck of the woods, I'm sure it feels pretty good for them to shove the "Failcoeur" t-shirts and "Acostalypse Now" photoshops back in our face.
Those two weren't the only reasons the Mets won, of course, just the most prominent. Mets starter R.A. Dickey had a good knuckleball tonight; he got 12/21 grounders (57%) and gave up very few hard hit balls. He did struggle with control at times, leading to four walks (versus only two strikeouts), but he only gave up two runs on five hits in his six innings of work. If it hadn't been for Melky Cabrera, he might not have given up any runs (you don't hear that every day!). Melky had a run-scoring fielder's choice in the second and an RBI triple in the sixth, both of which put the Braves ahead. Still, despite giving up the lead twice, Dickey kept his team in the game, as evidenced by his perfectly average 0.002 WPA.
Derek Lowe was flat-out excellent tonight. He went six innings, which he hadn't done in his last four starts, and could have gone much more if he hadn't been pulled for a pinch-hitter (a move that failed spectacularly, by the way). He didn't walk anyone for the first time all year, compared to three strikeouts. He gave up only one run on six hits. Perhaps most impressively, his sinker lured the Mets into groundballs on 12 of the 18 balls in play, for a fantastic 67% GB rate. He even left the game with a 2-1 lead after putting up a 0.213 WPA.
Unfortunately, as soon as Lowe came out of the game, new acquisition Kyle Farnsworth came in and--let's not sugarcoat this--blew it. He walked Francoeur (!!) on four straight pitches (!!!), none of which were close. Then, after a sacrifice bunt, he got into a 3-0 count against Chris Carter, who eventually lined an RBI single up the middle on a 3-1 count. Fortunately, Carter was caught stealing on a great throw by Brian McCann to preserve the tie.
I'm trying to think of a nickname for our new reliever. I'm vacillating between Kyle Failsworth and Kyle "Couldn't Hit the Broad Side of a" Barnsworth. Anyone else have any suggestions? In all seriousness, though, I like him and hope he does well from here on in, but he sure didn't endear himself to Braves fans in his first game back. Throw strikes, Kyle. That's all we ask.
The game was still tied, though. The Braves even got two runners on with one out against the lefty Pedro Feliciano in the seventh. Bobby then opted to pinch-hit for Eric Hinske to maintain the platoon advantage, which might have been a good idea, except he brought in the slumping Troy Glaus. That just prompted Jerry Manuel to bring in the right-handed Acosta to eliminate the platoon advantage all over again. On cue, Glaus grounded weakly into a 4-6-3 double play and the inning was over. Acosta worked the eighth inning as well for the Mets, giving up a couple walks but averting the Acostalypse.
In the top of the ninth, Billy Wagner came on and committed the second cardinal sin of relief pitching: giving Jeff Francoeur a pitch to hit (the first cardinal sin is walking the leadoff man--especially if it's Jeff Francoeur). Frenchy swung hard just like he always does, and he didn't miss it. The result was an opposite-field liner over the fence in right and a 3-2 Mets lead. Francisco Rodriguez took it from there, inducing two weak grounders and a shallow fly ball from the top of the Braves' order to end it.
Acosta gets the win. Frenchy hits the go-ahead homer. I light myself on fire.
Maybe the Braves' bats will finally heat up tomorrow against the struggling Mike Pelfrey. Lord knows we're due for a blowout win. And with good-luck charm Kris Medlen (Braves: 12-1 in his starts) on the hill, our chances look good to pull out the series win.
Jeff Francoeur-- 1/3, BB, HR, 2 R, RBI, 0.361 WPA
Manny Acosta-- 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 0.241 WPA; both of his wins this year have come against the Braves
Billy Wagner-- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 K, -0.320 WPA
Kyle Farnsworth-- 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K, -0.129 WPA, only 7 strikes in 18 pitches
Eric Hinske-- 0/3, bases-loaded K, -0.171 WPA
Troy Glaus-- 0/1, GIDP, -0.142 WPA
MVPs in a Losing Effort
Derek Lowe-- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 12/18 ground balls, 0.213 WPA
Melky Cabrera-- 1/3, BB, 3B, 2 RBI, 0.262 WPA