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Braves Outlast Mets 2-1 in Instant Classic as Acuna Jr. makes history

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An amazing pitching duel, a historic moment, and amazing bullpen performances highlight a memorable night at Citi Field.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

In a year that is setting records for home runs and offense, a game dominated by pitching has been harder and harder to find. On this specific Friday in Flushing, New York, amazing pitching performances took center stage all night long.

Jacob deGrom was as advertised, as was expected. Unexpectedly, Mike Foltynewicz was ready to match him pitch for pitch. Both starters went seven innings and yielded only one run in one of the better pitching duels Braves fans have had the chance to see this season.

Atlanta tried to get to deGrom early in the top of the second, but Alex Jackson lined out to end the threat. deGrom was untouchable from the top of the third till the first out in the sixth, including eight straight strikeouts. Ozzie Albies finally broke through with a single, and then a stolen base. Freddie Freeman followed with his own single to score Albies and give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Foltynewicz, while not as dominant, was equally effective through five innings. Though he escaped threats in the third and fifth innings, Foltynewicz looked as good as he had since May and June. Unfortunately, instead of the one big inning, it was one unfortunate pitch. Fresh off allowing the Braves to the take the lead in the top of the inning, deGrom himself tied the game back up with a solo home run on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the sixth. The score was again tied at 1.

Foltynewicz would complete seven innings in arguably his best start of the year. Efficient and Effective, he looked like the 2018 version of himself against one of the best pitchers in the game. While it has taken more than four months, Foltynewicz continues to show signs he is getting back to normal. It is a wonderful development for both Foltynewicz and Atlanta.

Once both starters exited the game, Braves fans finally got to see history made. Ronald Acuna Jr. stole his 30th base of the season, joining the prestigious 30 HR - 30 SB club. He becomes just the fourth Brave to achieve this amazing feat, and the first since Ron Gant did it in both 1990 and 1991. He also becomes the second youngest ever to reach the 30-30 mark, as Mike Trout reached the goal at 20 ( Acuna Jr. is 21.) They are the only players under the age of 22 to reach this historic mark.

Though the game contained both dominant starting pitching and history, it certainly lacked offense. Both teams could not get another run across through nine innings, so to extras they went. The Braves had their chances in the eighth and the 10th, but Acuna Jr. Albies, and Josh Donaldson all struck out with runners in scoring position. Fortunately, the Braves bullpen was up to the task and kept the Mets quiet, as Shane Green, Chris Martin, and Anthony Swarzak completed scoreless innings. Swarzak again showed his flair for the dramatic, as after getting two outs, he allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases before striking out Amed Rosario.

The Braves went quietly despite a Tyler Flowers single in the 11th, and Sean Newcomb entered. Newcomb would proceed to hit Joe Panik. In the process of striking out Pete Alonso, two wild pitches by Newcomb allowed Panik to advance to third. As if there was never a doubt, Newcomb would then strikeout Michael Conforto, intentionally walk J.D. Davis, and get Aaron Altherr to ground out to short.

Having fun yet? We are just getting started.

The Braves and Mets would each get a hit in the 12th and 13th, as Luke Jackson threw two masterful innings. After a rough end to July and beginning of August, Jackson has certainly gotten back on track. This is definitely a welcome site to both the Braves and their fans. Heading into the 14th, the Mets brought in their own version of Mr. Adventure, Jeurys Familia. And for the all the puns you can create, he lived up to every one of them.

Familia walked Tyler Flowers to begin the 14th, bringing Adeiny Hechavarria to the plate. On the first pitch, the Captain of Clutch from Cuba lined a ball into the right center field gap. The initial result was a RBI triple, but video replay showed the ball got stuck in the outfield wall. The call was reversed to a ground-rule double, with Rafael Ortega coming to the plate. Ortega battled to a 3-2 count, but struck out on a high slider for the first out.

Next up was the recently acquired Billy Hamilton. After substituting into the game in the 10th and being stranded on third, Hamilton came up in his first critical at-bat as a Brave. For all the talk of his plate appearances being limited in Atlanta, it appears, thankfully, Hamilton did not hear any of it. Hamilton delivered a single to right field, scoring Flowers and giving Atlanta a 2-1 lead. Max Fried would pinch hit and strike out, and Familia would then walk Acuna Jr. With the bases loaded, Ozzie Albies would swing and miss at a high slider to end the rally.

Mark Melancon would come on in the 15th and shut the Mets down in order to secure the save and the Braves 2-1 win.

According to Fangraphs, the Braves entered this game with their lowest chance to win on the season. And just like we all have come to expect, Adeiny Hechavarria, Tyler Flowers, and Billy Hamilton led us to victory in 14 innings. Perhaps the best pitching duel of the year turned into the game of the year, and one the Braves should be proud to have won.

This was the only the fifth time in the past 50 years the Braves have gone 14 or more innings in a game and allowed 1 run or less, and the first time since 2013. As mentioned in the preview, the Braves bullpen has been one of the best in baseball since the Meltdown in Miami, and they went seven scoreless innings tonight.

In a playoff type atmosphere, with the strength of team, the offense, struggling, the Braves needed their pitching more than ever against Jacob deGrom. Mike Foltynewicz and the bullpen answered the bell time and time again. For all the struggles and injuries, the best teams get the job done when it matters most. The debacle against the Marlins is now erased. The Braves have responded by coming together and playing arguably their best baseball of the season. This night will go down as one of the most memorable in recent memory for the Braves. A night that truly showed this team has the potential to be a champion.