Okay, I think it might just be time to go on record that this Braves team might just be pretty good, because even when setting a record for futility, Our Heroes somehow found a way to pull out a win.
Now that that’s out of the way, Atlanta rolled into the Big Apple to face a playoff caliber starter – this time the Mets’ Jacob deGrom in the first game of a three game set. The atmosphere last night was playoff-like and the game lived up to the description.
deGrom was dominant, again, going seven innings of four hit, 13 strikeout ball. He was matched by Mike Foltynewicz, who also went seven, giving up just two hits and two walks. This is the Folty we all expected to see this year. He was not in much trouble all night, although he didn’t strike out as many as the New York ace, he did punch out seven, which isn’t bad.
Both teams scored in their respective sixth innings. After striking out Ronald Acuna, Jr to start the frame – his eighth consecutive Brave victim – Ozzie Albies singled and stole second base. Freddie Freeman then took a 3-2 pitch into right field to score Ozzie and the Braves led 1-0. New York then evened it up in the bottom when That Man deGrom homered. This is the second time this year that deGrom has struck out 13 and homered. Must be nice.
Anyway, after that brief flurry of scoring both teams settled down and it appeared that each squad was determined to find new ways to torture their fan base by not scoring. Atlanta started the burlesque tease show in the top of the 8th. With one out Acuna drew a walk against Seth Lugo. Albies watched three balls sail by and with a 3-0 count he swung away and popped out to shallow right. Acuna then stole second for his 30th steal of the year, joining Mike Trout as the only two players to have a 30-30 season before turning 22. Freeman was intentionally passed but Josh Donaldson struck out to end the threat.
This seems like as good a place as any to explain the tease in the lede about futility. The Braves struck out 26 times last night.
Twenty freaking six times. One shy of a full nine inning game with nothing in play. That tied a Major League record for turning around and trudging back to the dugout.Among the main culprits were the top four in the order, with Acuna and Albies fanning twice, Freeman thrice, and Donaldson…err…fourice(?)…four times. Adieny Hechevarria and Rafael Ortega also contributed a hat trick apiece to the parade of K’s.
Shane Greene tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th, his third consecutive clean sheet. Looks like he’s settled in finally. Chris Martin did the same in the 9th, setting down the Mets in order.
The Braves squandered a golden scoring chance in the 10th against Edwin Diaz. Alex Jackson led off and took one for the team, getting hit by a pitch. Billy Hamilton then ran for him and was sacrificed to second. Hamilton stole third, but Acuna fanned on a 97 mph heater and Albies also struck out.
In the bottom of the 10th it was the Mets turn to tease their fanbase. Anthony Swarzak got the first two Mets, but ran the count to 3-1 to J.D. Davis and 3-2 to Rajai Davis. And it was apparent that Swarzak had no control over his slider, as it was no where near the zone, yet he kept on throwing it. With two down Juan Lagares singled and WIlson Ramos then singled him to third. Todd Frazier then walked to load up the bags and I’m sure every Braves fan was wondering why in the world Snit was not going to get him. But Amed Rosario struck out for the archetypical Atlanta Clean Inning for The General.
After a quiet top of the 11th, it was the Mets turn to waste a 1 out man on third scoring chance. Sean Newcomb hit Joe Panik with a pitch, wild pitched him to second, and then after Pete Alonso struck out on a nasty curve in the dirt, Panik went to third as Tyler Flowers couldn’t keep it close enough to prevent the advance. But Newk rallied to strike out Michael Conforto who hits lefties about as well as I do. An intentional walk to J.D. Davis followed, which made sense as; A) the pitcher’s spot was next and B) Davis has hit about .370 since the All Star Break. Aaron Altherr pinch hit and grounded to short to end that threat.
Both teams seemed to be exhausted at this point, as the 12th and 13th passed quietly. Luke Jackson tossed both frames for Atlanta, surrendering only a one out Ramos single in the 12th, but nothing else. Atlanta got a lead off ‘single’ from Acuna in the 13th that went about 32 feet, but RAJ beat out the throw to first. But he couldn’t advance as Albies, Freeman, and Donaldson left him stranded at first.
In the 14th Atlanta finally broke through to score the winning run. Flowers led off with a walk against Jeurys Familia. Hechevarria then drove one into the right center gap that initially seemed to be a triple scoring TFlo, but replay showed the ball lodged in the padding on the wall. After replay, the umpires sent the runners back to second and third. Things looked bad when Ortega struck out for the first out and Billy Hamilton and the pitcher’s spot were due up next (with Atlanta out of position players). But with New York having to play the infield in to cut off the go ahead run, Hamilton singled to right past a diving Joe Panik to score Flowers.
After having finally scratched across a run, all Braves fans everywhere were surely wondering how Mark Melancon was going to allow the tying run. Three two out bloop singles? A pinch-hit home run to a Mets starting pitcher? Nope. Strike out by Davis, grounder to third by Steven Matz, and a line out to second by Lagares and the Braves win.