The Braves dropped their 4th straight game overall as they lost 4-1 to the Mets on Wednesday night. Ervin Santana was strong through six innings but things fell apart in the 7th and the Braves offense offered little support in another discouraging loss.
Lucas Duda put the Mets ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the second. Duda’s single was the sort of two out hit in a scoring opportunity the Braves have so dearly lacked this year. After that hit though Santana seemed to settle in and with some good defensive work behind him was very strong through six innings. Through six innings Santana scattered four hits and walked one batter as he gave the Braves a chance to be competitive.
In the sixth inning the Braves tied the game in one of the more unlikely scenarios that could be imagined. Santana reached on a two out infield single of the sort you rarely see a pitcher event try to beat out. BJ Upton rewarded Santana’s hustle by crushing a double to straightaway centerfield. Upton was thrown out in a rundown between second and third but it was actually a heads up play by Upton to force the rundown. Upton could have likely made it to third base but he stopped once the throw was cut off to ensure that Santana scored before there was any play on the bases. Upton’s alert baserunning allowed the Braves to tie the game but that sequence was all the meager offense would manage.
In the top of the 7th the Braves had a very good chance to go ahead when Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton managed to both reach base and set things up with 1st and 2nd and one out. Jason Heyward struck out though and Chris Johnson grounded out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 7th inning things finally fell apart for Santana. David Wright doubled in front of Justin Upton on a play in which Upton’s slow retrieval of the ball turned a single into a double. Wright advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly to put the Mets up 2-1. The game was still contested until Travis d’Arnaud followed up with a two run homer to put the Mets up 4-1. With the way the Braves offense has been performing in 2014, it may as well have been 10-1. The Braves would put runners on in the 8th and 9th but characteristically none of them scored.
The Braves have now lost four in a row after winning nine in a row. With the Nationals victory tonight the Braves have now dropped a game off the pace in the NL East.
- The Braves struggle with runners in scoring position because they have too many below league average hitters. BJ Upton, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson, and Gerald Laird are all well below league average hitters. The Braves don’t lack some sort of character that is required for situational hitting. They just aren’t very good.
- The other part of that is the Braves are desperately missing the home runs this lineup used to hit. The key to scoring runs with a shallow lineup is hitting for power since that requires fewer total hits to score runs. The lack of homers is killing this team on offense.
- Tommy La Stella is good defensively and should never be removed for defensive purposes again. Certainly not while he plays in the same infield as Chris Johnson.