The New York Mets came into Cobb County and were forced to lean on the depth of their pitching staff and they delivered, as the Braves were unable to get any extended rallies going. Austin Riley’s home run was the only run that the Braves could push across the plate tonight as they suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of their divisional rivals from New York.
Tonight’s game started out as a pitcher’s duel and it looked like we were going to get a good one between Max Fried and Taijuan Walker. Unfortunately for Walker, he didn’t get too deep into the game and it wasn’t due to performance. His left side started getting tight on him during the third inning and while he was able to get out of the inning with little-to-no problem whatsoever (which was a theme for Mets pitchers tonight), he was clearly in some pain and the Mets decided to shut him down at that point. Both of these teams don’t need any more injuries, but unfortunately there were more to come.
The next eventful inning was the seventh frame, which is when things just got really rough for both teams. After hitting for himself in the sixth inning, Max Fried came out for the seventh and immediately gave up a leadoff double to Tomas Nido. After giving up the hit, Fried seemed to be favoring his hand a bit and that prompted a visit from both Brian Snitker and trainer George Poulis. After a lengthy meeting, Fried left the game and walked off with what was revealed to be cramping in his hand. It doesn’t seem serious (and as it turns out, it wasn’t too serious), but you don’t want a pitcher dealing with cramps in their pitching hand during the game so it was probably the right thing to take Fried out right there.
So with the game still tied at zero and a runner in scoring position, the pitcher who was tasked with keeping the Mets off of the board at that point was Jacob Webb. Webb proceeded to give up a pinch-hit double to a struggling James McCann, a sacrifice bunt, a walk to Francisco Lindor and then a two-out intentional walk to Dominic Smith to set the stage to face Kevin Pillar with the bases loaded and two out. As we’ve seen so often, the last strike of a two-out situation appears to be incredibly difficult for Braves pitchers to get out of and Jacob Webb indeed failed to end the inning on a 1-2 count to Pillar at that point. In an incredibly scary moment, Webb hit Pillar square in the face with a 94.5 mph fastball. The heater knocked Pillar to the ground and left him with his face in a grisly state. Amazingly, Pillar got up and left the field under his own power but it was an awful moment and hopefully Pillar will be able to make a full and speedy recovery following the incident.
Understandably, Webb left the game after the HBP and Sean Newcomb got the last out of the seventh to keep it 2-0 in favor of the Mets. New York got their third run of the game after MLB debutant Johneshwy Fargas blooped one into his opposite right field at 61.9 mph and Ronald Acuña Jr. overran the ball while attempting to field it, allowing Tomas Nido to score from first base. Folks, it was that kind of night — you know things are going badly when a light-hitting outfielder batting ninth on a National League team making his big league debut is able to hit a bloop double to effectively put the game out of reach.
The Braves lineup finally showed some life in the bottom of the eighth inning, as Austin Riley went the opposite way and sent one flying into the Chop House to ensure that Atlanta wouldn’t get shut out. Guillermo Heredia followed that up with a double and it seemed for a split-second that the Braves had finally woke up. They did wake up, but Lady Luck did not smile down on Pablo Sandoval or Ehire Adrianza. Both men hit bullets in their pinch-hit appearances and both of them landed safely in the gloves of Mets fielders and any dreams of a rally were cut short right there.
The bottom of the ninth came along and outside of Freddie Freeman drawing a four-pitch walk, the top of the lineup had nothing going and it even seemed like they were pressing a little too hard to make something happen. Either way, the Braves went down without much of a fight in the ninth and the Mets ended up claiming the first victory of the season series. The Mets pullled off the win, but they’re going to have even more injury concerns after Taijuan Walker’s early exit and the scary moment for Kevin Pillar. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s offense was just unable to get anything going for an extended period of time and that ended up being costly for them on this night.