In the series preview I jokingly said the Braves were approaching the difficult part of their schedule but then corrected myself once I realized it was the Mets again. Turns out I could have just dropped the jokes as the Mets beat the Braves three out of four times in the series.
The series started off with a game that was both highly frustrating and bizarre. In game one of the series the Braves had a 3-2 leading going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Mike Minor had one of his better starts this season going seven innings and allowing only two runs. Minor gave way to the bullpen and in an inexplicable decision Fredi Gonzalez brought Luis Avilan into the game. Avilan is a lefty specialist having a very poor season, which made bringing him in the face two straight righties with several better options available confounding. Avilan rewarded Fredi’s poor process with poor results as Curtis Granderson homered to tie the game.
In the ninth inning the Mets threatened to score by way of a bizarre replay decision. Andrelton Simmons received a throw at second base before making the turn to first to attempt a double play. The batter beat out the throw to first but Simmons got the out at second. That is until the Mets challenged that Simmons didn’t touch the base. The decision by the officials was odd because MLB rules specifically forbid reviewing the "neighborhood rule" which this call fell under. They reviewed it anyway and ruled Simmons came off the bag which he had done in an attempt to avoid a takeout slide. After the game the umpires made contradictory statements about why they did what they did that made it obvious the umpires didn’t understand the rules they were enforcing. Despite the poor decision Shae Simmons managed to get four outs in the inning and prevent and damage. The Braves would eventually lose in 11 innings on a Ruben Tejada single.
The second game of the series was less controversial and much blander as the Braves were soundly thrashed 8-3. Julio Teheran had one of his worst games of the season allowing five runs in 3.1 innings. Mets rookie David deGrom was masterful striking out 11 Braves hitters as he cruised through seven shutout innings. The Braves would eventually push across three runs in a too little too late effort and lost 8-3.
Game three of the series was much more competitive than game two because starter Ervin Santana managed to keep the Braves in things for most of the game. Santana was excellent through six innings allowing only one run but the Braves offense could do little to support their pitcher. Santana helped himself by legging out a two out infield single in the top of the sixth. His hustle was rewarded when BJ Upton doubled Santana home to tie the game at one. In the seventh things fell apart for Santana, as he allowed the Mets to take the lead on a David Wright sacrifice fly. Santana looked to limit the damage and keep the Braves in the game but a Travis d’Arnaud two run homer put the Mets up 4-1 in a lead that felt insurmountable given the Braves offense. The Braves would fail cut into the deficit at all as the Braves lost their fourth straight game overall.
The Braves finally break out of their skid with the help of a vintage Aaron Harang tight rope act and just enough help from the offense. The Braves gave Harang and early lead as Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward delivered run scoring singles to put the Braves up 2-0 in the first. Justin Upton drove home the Braves third run in the third inning with a double play. Upton’s double play squelched the chances of a big inning but the three runs the Braves scored were enough to secure them the victory. Harang was once again on the verge of falling apart all night but he kept things together for seven innings allowing only one run. Things got interesting in the 8th when reliever Jordan Walden struggled to get the first two outs in the inning. Fredi Gonzalez made the uncharacteristic but smart move to bring in Craig Kimbrel for the four out save. Kimbrel handled the situation with aplomb and secured the Braves victory. Gonzalez said after the game he is feeling more confident in using Kimbrel to get four outs including in possible playoff situations. Which is good and bad news depending on how much last year’s playoffs still bother you.
The series was a poor one as the Braves only took one game from a team they should not struggle so much with. The Braves are tied with the Nationals for first place though and now make their way to Chicago to face another baseball red shirt in the Cubs. As was shown in this series anything can happen in small samples in baseball but the Braves should be favored to win or sweep the non-contending Cubs