May 14, 2009 at 10:07 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, New York Mutts, Series Preview, Series Thoughts
A win that put us on cloud 9, a loss that put us in the trenches, and another win that put us right back where we started. That’s what happened. Here’s how it went down.
In the first game, Santana vs. Lowe, neither pitcher was particularly brilliant. Santana pitched 6 and 1/3 innings of 1-run ball before being pulled with a runner on 1st. The Braves had baserunners all night against him, but being Johan Santana, he was able to strand most of them. We worked the count well, something we haven’t done all season which pisses me off, and he was at over 100 pitches when he was pulled. Mets and Braves fans alike can both attribute to what unfolded in the latter stages of the game to the Mets bullpen imploding and shoddy defense, as they allowed 6 runs (only 3 earned), in the next 2 and 2/3 innings. The big hit was had by Matt Diaz, who singled off Pedro Feliciano with the bases loaded in the 7th to plate 2 runs and break open the lead. Why Jerry Manuel left Feliciano, a lefty, in to face Matt Diaz, a righty who a) murders left-handed pitching and b) is pretty much completely inept at hitting right-handed pitching, I will never know, but it cost the Mets. Feliciano of course didn’t lose that game by himself, 3 other Mets relievers pitched and they all allowed runs. Also, if Jose Reyes makes a fairly routine play Feliciano gets out of the inning clean. Lowe allowed 3 singles, 2 doubles, and 2 walks in his 6 and 2/3 inning 2-run performance. He only struck out 1 batter and it wasn’t his best game. He did have the sinker working, inducing 15 ground-ball outs. Carlyle gave up a run in the 9th, but the Braves had already scored 8 to the Mets 2 at that point, so it wasn’t like they were close to threatening. Moylan and Soriano were both used in the game. I have already been on my rant about how abused our bullpen has been, so I won’t go there in this post.
I want to take a second to say how impressed I am with Lowe as an individual. First of all, Bobby Cox says Lowe is the hardest working pitcher he’s ever had. Bobby Cox has been in this league a long, long time, and for HIM to say someone is the hardest working he’s ever had, that means A LOT. Secondly, here’s a quote from David O’Brien about the mood in the clubhouse after the first game:
Lot of optimism in that clubhouse after this one. I asked Lowe about the 5-1 trip and he said this was what a lot of people, the Braves included, had been waiting to see from this team.
And he said he likes their chances to win this series, particularly with “our best pitcher going tomorrow.” Those were his words about Jair Jurrjens
Lowe is the guy who signed the big 60 million dollar contract this off-season, but he’s humble enough to say that a sophomore 23-year old who most people had never heard of before last season is our best pitcher. That’s just impressive to me. I’m usually not impressed with Derek Lowe’s outings, but dang, he impressed me more with that quote than he possibly could with an outing.
The second game. Ugh. I wish I could forget it. Jurrjens spun a gem, allowing 5 baserunners through 7 innings, 4 hits and a walk. In the 8th, he gave up 2 singles and a double which Jose Reyes tried to stretch into a triple and was thrown out doing so (he was actually safe, the ump blew the call), with a flyout somewhere in there, and exited the game having allowed 2 runs in 7 and 2/3 innings. Moylan failed to retire the only batter he faced and O’Flaherty got us out of the inning still up 3-2. Mike Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to Carlos Beltran who stole 3rd a batter later (the replay showed he was out and again the umpires blew the call, but I guess it evens out because they get the run either way) and came home on a sacrifice fly. 3-3. Jeff Bennett came on to pitch the 10th. Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. But, it was probably Bobby’s best option at the time. Soriano was unavailable because he’d been used way too much for the past week, Gonzalez, Moylan, and O’Flaherty had all been used, and you want to save your long-men (Parr and Carlyle) for either a) later in the game if it goes past 10 innings or b) the next day because Jo Jo Reyes was scheduled to pitch. Anyway, Bennett walked in the winning run. And guess who drew the walk? Yep, that’s right, the only good player on the Mets who is actually playing well right now, Carlos Beltran. By the way, that dude is really damn good. One of the top-5 players in the game I’d imagine. Not far out of it if he is.
The third game went pretty much exactly as advertised. Jo Jo Reyes started and was awful as usual. He left having already allowed 2 runs and the bases loaded with no outs in the third, and Buddy Carlyle promptly gave up a grand slam to Fernando Tatis. To that point we had scored 4 runs, so down 6-4 wasn’t that awful. Niese started the game for the Mets and was chased in the 5th. The Braves battled back and scored 3 more runs to take the lead, but Soriano gave up a run in the bottom of the 8th (probably because he’s been so over-used), and the bats on both sides of the ball kind of died until the top of the 12th, when Martin Prado hit a home run to make it 8-7. At that point, the Braves had used all 13 position players, 6 relief pitchers, Reyes, and Kawakami had pinch-hit. Luckily the 1 pitcher Bobby saved was Gonzalez, who, despite being very wild and looking like he had nothing left in the tank (though he still hit 95 with his fastball), pitched around a double to Jose Reyes (that missed being a game-tying home run by about a foot), and nailed down the save. The Braves used 22 players in that game, which has to be a record for the season. Lowe, Vazquez, and Jurrjens were the only players we didn’t use. Thank god today’s an off-day.
It was an exciting series. It felt like October. Both sides made their share of bad plays, but both sides made their share of excellent plays. Good baseball all around.
Looking forward, we’ve got the Diamondbacks at the Ted for a weekend series. Vazquez, Kawakami, and Lowe will pitch. They’ll be opposed by Doug Davis (who kind of sucks, even though he’s a remarkable story), Max Scherzer (young strikeout machine who I will make it a point of interest to see in person), and Jon Garland (groundball specialist who isn’t that good and has been pitching horribly this season). Reasons I’m dissappointed about how the schedule treats us: I don’t get to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Reasons I’m excited about how the schedule treats us: I don’t have to watch Dan Haren face the Braves. Webb is on the DL by the way, so we didn’t exactly miss their 2 best pitchers by luck of scheduling.
Davis has been pitching well of late, but the regulars in the line-up hit lefties well (Kotchman, Diaz (not really a reg), McCann, Francoeur, Kelly). It seems like a good day to rest Schafer and let Infante get some work in at Center. I’d play Diaz, Infante, Francoeur, Kotchman, Kelly, Yunel (who interestingly hits righties better than lefties), Chipper, and B-Mac. All of those guys are either a) right-handed hitters, b) left-handed hitters who hit lefties as well as righties, or c) switch-hitters named Chipper Jones.
Scherzer is going to be fun to watch. He’s a guy who you can get into his head, so be patient, wait for a mistake, and do some damage. Garland isn’t a quality pitcher, and his BB/9 is throught he roof, so patience is huge. Stay away from the DP too, he’s a ground-ball specialist.
Overall, this is a very sweepable series. May we do so.
Players I like watching on the D-Backs: Stephen Drew (a favorite of mine), Justin Upton, Dan Haren (who we won’t see), and Max Scherzer.