Well, that was fun. Seriously, watch out for the video and highlights post, as that’ll be a doozy. On Tuesday, the Braves edged the Mets 3-2 in the series opener, climbing to within a half-game of the division lead. Last night, they sauntered into first place on the back of a 7-0 shutout. Not to be outdone by their prior performance, they capped the road trip with a thunderous 11-run assault, giving the Mets no quarter as they thwomped them again and again. And again.
Just like Tuesday night, the bats came out and immediately drew blood, putting up a three-spot in the first. Ozzie Albies knocked the first pitch of the game for an infield single, and was replaced at first base after Freddie Freeman rolled into a forceout. Early MVP candidate (I’m kidding but I’m also not kidding, even though I am, or am I?) Nick Markakis then mashed a line drive into right field, scoring Freeman from first. Kurt Suzuki then jobbed a terrible Jason Vargas changeup into the sunny New York afternoon to give the Braves a 3-0 lead.
After that, Julio Teheran took over. Fresh off a bit of a delay in his usual schedule due to a trapezius issue that saw him leave his prior start after just three frames (and having allowed three runs), Teheran straight-up mystified the Mets in this one. While his fastballs generally sat 87 to 89 miles per hour, he managed to get by without any real threats against him early. He was greatly aided in this approach by reaching back to throw a harder fastball around 91 miles per hour again and again that the Mets swung through. Asdrubal Cabrera in the second, Tomas Nido in the third, Jay Bruce in the fourth, Michael Conforto in the fifth, and Yoenis Cespedes in the seventh all failed to catch up with more or less that same pitch, apparently having gotten too comfortable searching for the slightly-softer fastball earlier. Aside from those strikeouts, Teheran was mostly Teheran, collecting only six groundouts and letting his outfield defense do solid work behind him.
Anyway, all that aside, the key fact here is that Teheran retired the first 11 hitters he faced before yielding a two-out walk to Cespedes. Then he retired nine straight hitters again, essentially dragging his no-hit bid into the bottom of the seventh with two outs. Then, it was ruined by a naughty Asdrubal Cabrera double to right field, and Teheran promptly allowed another walk and an infield single to load the bases with two outs. Ozzie Albies arguably should have been able to convert the grounder from Adrian Gonzalez into the inning’s third out but failed to do so with an off-target, off-balance throw, but no matter: Teheran got Amed Rosario to pop out in foul territory to keep his line free of any runs. He finished with a great outing: seven innings, two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts, on par with his prior outing against these same Mets, which was also seven innings, six strikeouts, and no runs allowed.
Teheran loading the bases in the seventh would have seemed scary, had not the Braves been well on their way to mangling the Mets en route to the sweep by this point in the contest. They erupted for three more runs in the top of the fifth, eventually knocking Vargas out of the game. The first of those runs was a gargantuan blast off the bat of Ronald Acuña Jr.
At an exit velocity of 112 miles per hour and an estimated 451 feet, it was the most-crushed ball hit by a Brave this year. After Acuña’s moonshot, Vargas issued a walk to Freeman and then gave up another homer, this time to MVP-arkakis on the very first pitch. That made the game 6-0; Vargas was pulled later in the frame after Teheran singled for his second hit of the day.
Matt Harvey came on in relief of Vargas and retired four straight hitters until the Braves decided to rough up his record some more in the seventh. In that frame, Harvey issued a leadoff walk to Markakis and a one-out walk to Johan Camargo before yielding an RBI single to Charlie Culberson. Teheran then chipped in with a sacrifice fly, and after yet another walk, Ozzie Albies drilled the meatiest of fastballs into right-center for a three-run shot, his tenth longball of the year. An Acuña single then chased Harvey, but the Braves had done their damage, leaping out to an 11-0 advantage.
The rest of the game was quiet. The Braves got a pinch-hit double from Preston Tucker but otherwise failed to add on (as though it was necessary!); Jesse Biddle and Max Fried mopped up the Mets. Fried allowed a walk and a hit to start his outing, but then struck out the side on just 12 pitches after that to end the game.
The box score in this one was real pretty for the Braves — every hitter reached base as the Braves pounded out 15 hits and also got five walks. Acuña and Markakis each pulled down three hits, while Albies, Suzuki, Culberson, and even Julio Teheran collected a pair.
The division-leading Braves now get to return home to Atlanta, where they’re set to take on the middling Giants on Friday night. Mike Foltynewicz will draw that start against Chris Stratton. But, before you look ahead to Friday, be sure to celebrate this Thursday night: the Braves just swept the division-leading Mets, sit alone in first place, and have kicked off May the same way they traipsed through April — in mind-bending, opposition-destroying fashion. It’s been a fun season so far, right?!