The Sean Newcomb Tag Team Experience was on full display last night, and the results were mostly pleasantly surprising. The Mets stepped into the STP Squared Circle for a mano-y-mano Death Match with Atlanta. Newcomb only went 5 1/3 innings, but he allowed just seven base runners on 6 hits and one walk (which we will get to shortly) and struck out 8 to pitch just well enough to get the pin.
The Good Newcomb opened the game with a couple of strike outs in the first two innings, and looked sharp. The only damage was an Asdrubal Cabrera single to left. But Newcomb was pitching efficiently, not getting into deep counts and not nibbling at the corners. That is the type of starter that can, if not make us forget Andrelton Simmons, can at least every fifth day, take the sting out of the trade.
The Braves opened the scoring in the bottom of the second when Dansby Swanson scored on perhaps the strangest play of the season. With one out, Swanson was on third after a Rio Ruiz single, and David Freitas grounded out to third on a slow roller that scored Lt. Dans. But, Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki interfered with Freitas’ swing when his glove hit the bat. I was sure the incompetent ref was going to look the other way and miss the blatant cheating, but surprisingly, the home plate umpire immediately signalled the interference. He sent Swanson back to third, Ruiz to second, and Freitas to first. But Snit came out, and after a short discussion, he opted to take the result of the play, exchanging the second out of the inning for the run.
However the Bad Newcomb tagged in after the run, and gave it back in the top of the third, when he allowed a lead-off double to Gavin Cecchini, who was sacrificed to third, and driven in on an infield dribbler by Jose Reyes. In the fourth, Cabrera collected another lead-off double, and was driven in two batters later by Dominic Smith. It was at this point, with Good Newk straining in the corner, that Bad Newk managed to score the tag, and Good Newk came in and proceeded to clear the ring striking out the next five Mets hitters in a row.
In the bottom of the 5th Nature Boy Freitas collected a lead-off double of his own. Ender Inciarte singled him home. Ozzie Albies worked the crowd into a frenzy and Mets pitcher Rafael Montero for a walk. Montero wild pitched them to second and third, intentionally walked Freddie Freeman, and gave up the go-ahead sac fly to Lane Adams.
However with one out in the sixth, Cabrera snuck up and hit Good Newk over the head with the steel chair, collecting his third hit of the night, an infield dribbler that Swanson couldn’t do anything with. Plawecki then used a suspicious foreign substance on his bat to collect a screaming single to left. While he was celebrating Bad Newk got the tag, and after a brief rally, getting to an 0-2 count on Smith, he was distracted the Mets’ ring manager, and nibbled his way to a walk. The bases were loaded, with only one out…and Oh..My..God..
Is that Dan Winkler’s music??? YES! It is! Winkler comes in and boom – a tailor made DP – Ozzie to Dansby to Freddie. OK, so it’s not as poetic as Tinker to Evers to Chance, but it sure was sweet at that point.
After that, the Braves’ pen put the Mets into a Figure Four, locking up their offense for the remainder of the game. Jose Ramirez with a perfect inning and a third. Sam Freeman ALMOST letting the Mets reach the bottom rope to break the hold, but managed to pull them back with two on and two out in the 8th to escape damage, and Arodys Vizcaino closing it out in the 9th.
All in all, it was refreshing to see Good triumph over Evil. But tonight, the Mets send in the Belt Holder – Jacob deGrom to pitch. But, To Be The Man, you gotta Beat The Man, so let’s hope R.A. Dickey is up to his old self and bamboozles the Mets.