Thursday, June 16, 2011

Game #69: Braves 9, Mets 8 (10)

Atlanta Braves' Eric Hinske (r.) slides in safe at home plate as New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino applies a late tag. The Mets went on to lose 9-8 on D.J. Carrasco's 10th inning balk. (
Two outs. Two stinkin' outs. That's how many more the Mets needed to sweep the Braves and go back home with a sweep in Atlanta. But old habits die hard, and Turner Field once again became a house of horrors for New York.

Fransisco Rodriguez blew his first save in two and half months and DJ Carrasco balked home the winning run in the 10th, dealing the Mets a disheartening 9-8 loss.

The Bad Stuff:
  • Taking an 8-6 lead into the 9th, New York fans had to feel pretty good about their chances. Frankie Rodriguez was on the mound, and he had converted 19 straight save opportunities. Even better: after living up to his name, Met Killer Chipper Jones was out of the game due to injury. This one was in the books, right? Wrong. After overpowering Jordan Schafer on a 3-pitch strikeout, K-Rod gave up a single to Jason Heyward. Up came Brooks Conrad, in the spot that would have been occupied by Jones. Well, Conrad did an incredible impression, blasting a 1-0 fastball into the Southern night and tying the game at 8. It was K-Rod's first blown save since the second game of the year in Florida. And instead of celebrating their first sweep of the Braves at home since 2007, the Mets instead prepared for extra innings.
  • DJ Carrasco, who pitched 2 perfect innings last night, gave up a leadoff walk, but got Alex Gonzales to ground into the 4-6-3 double play. Almost out of the woods. Key word: almost. Because Chipper's replacement at third base, Diory Hernandez, doubled to right. Jordan Schafer then came up and "earned" an infield hit, which should have been an error charged to Lucas Duda, who got in Ruben Tejada's way of making a routine 4-3 putout. Now there were runners on the corners for the dangerous Heyward. Everyone in Turner Field was anticipating Heyward to become the hero. He never got the chance. Because a flinch by Carrasco on the rubber constituted a balk, and Hernandez came in with the dagger in the Mets' heart. Losing the game on a blown save, a would-be error, and a balk. Simply Amazin'. And not in a good way.
  • Recently, scoring 8 runs would mean an automatic victory, with the Mets' starters pitching lights-out. But the lights came on for R.A. Dickey, who was tagged for 6 runs (4 earned) in 4 innings, including a 3-run homer and 2 more RBIs to the Met Killer, his 47th dinger against the team all-time.
The Good Stuff:
  • The loss negates a really spectacular run by the rest of the New York bullpen. Manny Acosta, Pedro Beato, Tim Byrdak, and Jason Isringhausen gave up 3 hits between their combined 4 innings, with Byrdak getting out of a big jam in the 7th.
  • On the offensive side, Jose Reyes was like clockwork again, going 3-6, including his 12th triple on a shallow flyball in the 3rd: three Braves had the chance to get it, none of them did, and by the time they became alert to pick it up, Reyes was sliding into third base. He scored 4 pitches later on Justin Turner's base hit.
  • Carlos Beltran came up next and hit a double, advancing Turner to third. He came in next on Daniel Murphy's sac fly.
  • After falling behind 6-2, New York blasted back with a 4-run 5th. Turner drew one of his 3 walks on the day, Beltran walked, and Murphy advanced Turner to third on another flyball. Jason Bay finally got the ball rolling and singled home Turner. With 2 hits on the day, it's Bays second straight multi-hit game (Maybe this is the beginning of his resurgence? Let's hope). After Ronny Paulino struck out, Scott Hairston smashed a high fastball into the left field stands to tie the game. Hairston got a rare start in center to face a left-handed starter, and he did exactly what he was supposed to, for sure.
  • In the 7th, the Mets loaded the bases with 1 out. An over-anxious Hairston struck out, but Jonny Venters's pitch was wild, and the goahead run came home.
  • The next inning, New York benefited in a big way from 2 Atlanta errors. Angel Pagan reached on a Jones throwing error and went to second on a Reyes groundball that was hit so hard it knocked Venters' glove off. Turner was walked and Beltran hit into what would be a 5-4-3 double play, but Dan Uggla's throwing error was enough to bring Pagan home for the 8-6 lead. And that should have been the end of it. But it wasn't. See Bad Stuff for all that.
Final Analysis:
Even when Chipper Jones is on the bench, he kills us. In the first half of the game he had 5 RBIs, then the guy batting in his place hits the tying homer, then his replacement third basemen scored the game-winning run on a freakin' balk. He's a Hall-of-Famer for sure, but I'll be so glad once this demon finally leaves the Mets alone.

What a deflating loss. Two outs away from a sweep and an actual winning record, their first winning record since 3-2, and the train derails. What a sour end to a fantastic road trip. And this game aside, it was a great road trip. 6-4 with series wins in Milwaukee and Atlanta, a string of 9 straight great starts, and the absolute hottest hitter on the planet on our side. Let's not forget all that. We had quite a bit of momentum going until the 9th inning tonight. Let's not let one bad loss destroy it all.

Cause we're going to need that momentum going into the next leg of (grr) Interleague Play. This weekend New York plays host to the Angels-Who-Call-Themselves-the-Los-Angeles-Angels-Even-Though-They're-Really-from-Anaheim-Angels, then the free-falling Oakland A's come to town. Ugly as it is, this game will still go down as just one loss. Remember that.


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