Whistle past the graveyard
1. To attempt to stay cheerful during a dire situation; to proceed with a task, ignoring an upcoming hazard, hoping for a good outcome.
In this case, one could say that the dire situation is "the 2016 Atlanta Braves season," but the whistle, well, that was Matt Wisler himself, as he put together eight one-hit, shutout innings to send the Braves to their seventh win of 2016.
Wisler's outing was definitely the story of tonight's contest, in which the Braves triumphed 3-0. He took a no-hitter into the fifth and ended up allowing just one hit through eight innings of work in which he faced just three batters over the minimum. Wisler did not appear overpowering on a wet night at Citi Field, but seemed to give the Mets attack a set of very comfortable, even genteel, fits, as he elicited five groundouts, six flyouts, four strikeouts, and allowed just two walks.
As is often the case when a pitcher cruises through a game without leaning heavily on the strikeout, Wisler benefited from solid defense and some balls hit right at (or at least close to) fielders: Wisler allowed seven line drives, one of which was the lone Mets' hit (thanks, Asdrubal Cabrera), but they were mostly right at fielders. In addition, Adonis Garcia made a jumping catch on a fly ball leading off the sixth, and two of Wisler's groundouts were turned into double plays by his infield. All in all, he threw just 106 pitches over eight innings, and faced a three-ball count only six times.
You could also say that maybe Wisler just likes facing the Mets: he's never had a bad outing against them, allowing two runs at most to them in four career starts. This one, however, was the best of the bunch, not just when facing the Mets, but perhaps of his young career. (The competing start would be during the tail end of 2015, when he came within one out of a shutout of the Cardinals, but was pulled after putting the tying run on base via walk with two outs in the ninth.
Oh, and there were runs scored in this game, too, just not by the Mets. Matt Harvey and Wisler traded zeroes until the fifth, when the wheels came off. Harvey has had somewhat of an interesting split in his handful of starts so far this season: he absolutely dominates hitters until the fifth, when he tends to immediately apart. If he makes it into the sixth, the prognosis is even worse. That's exactly how it played out again tonight, with the Braves putting up a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to knock Harvey out of the game. It's hard to say that Harvey pitched exceedingly poorly, given that he gave up just three runs, but given that the Braves offense is on pace to be pretty much the worst offensive team ever (I'm not really exaggerating), it was somewhat unexpected. Perhaps the IV fluid treatment and his general lack of robust health coming into tonight's start had something to do with it.
But, oh wait, the runs! To start things off, Mallex Smith led off the top of the fifth with a slashed line drive homer into the very corner of left field. At first, the call on the field ruled it a ball in play, on which Smith made third base. But, the umpires reviewed the location that the ball hit and rightly awarded Smith his first major league homer. Amusingly, the Braves are still without a triple for the year, but at least they have six homers now. (Nolan Arenado no longer has more than two times the amount of homers the Braves do.)
In the sixth, AJ Pierzynski was in the center of the run-scoring action. His double drove in Kelly Johnson, who led off the inning with a single and then stole second. Pierzynski then somehow beat out Yoenis Cespedes' cannon from center field on a fly ball out from Reid Brignac, and then scampered home after Mets' catcher Kevin Plawecki failed to corral a wild pitch from Harvey to cap the scoring.
The rest of the game was very quiet (although Jeff Francoeur did draw a walk!), and Arodys Vizcaino shut down the Mets in order to seal the victory.
Some minor notes from this game: Freddie Freeman hit two doubles and appears to be swinging like the Freeman of yore; the Barves made an appearance in the second by botching a second-and-third, none out situation courtesy of an Erick Aybar first pitch pop-up and groundouts from Wisler and Smith; this was arguably the best start the Braves have enjoyed so far, with the only real competition being Julio Teheran's start against the Cubs from a few days ago.
The Braves and Mets will play a rubber game tomorrow afternoon, with Jhoulys Chacin taking on Steven Matz. Be advised, it's a 1:10 pm start.