The Braves won Keuchel-Matz, Round 1, on August 14. Ten days later, they prevailed in the rematch by a 2-1 score, sweeping the Mets in New York and winning their eighth straight game for the second time this season. If you like good pitching, this was the game for you: Dallas Keuchel threw seven scoreless frames to stymie the Mets once again; Steven Matz allowed just one run in his six frames of work.
On the Braves’ side of the ledger, the entire damage was done by one Josh Donaldson, courtesy of two solo homers. The first came in the second and was a wind-aided, towering fly ball down the third-base line. It only had a hit probability of 12 percent, owing to the 46 degree launch angle that birthed it, but in the end, those things didn’t matter as much as it landing beyond the left-field fence to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. After Matz departed, having allowed just that lone run in six innings, Paul Sewald came on, and Donaldson greeted him with another solo homer. This one was far less potentially specious, as it was the only barreled ball of the game, and cleared the fence in right-center on a screaming line that New York’s outfielders chased only halfheartedly.
Keuchel, meanwhile, pitched seven classy frames and sometimes gave off the impression he was toying with the Mets. In the first, he hit Jeff McNeil with a pitch, but promptly ended the frame on a 5-4-3 double play coaxed from the bat of Pete Alonso. In the second, he looked like he might be in trouble after a Michael Conforto single (and an error fielding it by Adam Duvall in left field) and a walk to J.D. Davis put the go-ahead run on base with none out, but a tailor-made double play off Todd Frazier’s bat and an eventual comebacker by former Brave Rene Rivera, making his 2019 debut, ended that threat as well. Three frames later, Keuchel elicited another twin killing off the bat of Juan Lagares, this time again of the 5-4-3 variety. The sixth, featuring the third time through the order, seemed like it could go poorly, given that the tying run reached base and brought Alonso up as the go-ahead run...
...but unlike yesterday, when Max Fried was unable to vanquish Alonso and preserve the lead, Keuchel struck him out, and then fanned Conforto to boot to end the frame. A leadoff single by Davis in the seventh similarly came to nothing as Keuchel completed his afternoon, yielding just eight baserunners and striking out seven Mets in the process.
Sean Newcomb came on for the eighth and got three grounders to Ozzie Albies at second base despite throwing as many balls as strikes. Mark Melancon came out for the ninth and had a brief spot of trouble that snapped the Braves’ relief scoreless innings streak, but got the job done anyway. Melancon allowed a leadoff double to Alonso and a one-out single to Davis. A groundout by Frazier almost went for another 5-4-3 double play, but Frazier barely beat the relay, and advanced to second as pinch-hitter Wilson Ramos singled to right to lengthen the game. But, pinch-hitter Joe Panik could not manage the same, grounding out weakly to first to seal the Braves’ 80th victory of the year.
The Braves will now look westward, both in the hopes of seeing the Cubs finally beating the Nationals to extend Atlanta’s divisional lead, but also because they will now head to Denver to play a make-up game against the Rockies, before swinging way back east to play the Blue Jays in Toronto.
P.S. Games where the Braves win by outhomering the other team despite getting fewer total hits are legitimately the most gratifying, and this was one of those... again.