Sunday, August 7, 2011

Game #112: Mets 11, Braves 7

Justin Turner after his first home run against Atlanta on Saturday. (NYTimes.com)
With their backs against the wall, the Mets turned to something I'm sure the 33,556 at Citi Field least expected: a power surge.

Justin Turner hit two home runs and the Mets got one each from Jason Bay and Josh Thole, giving them the offensive spark needed to beat the Braves, 11-7.

The Good Stuff:
  • Oh hey, bats, welcome back!
    • The offense got going right from the beginning: Justin Turner made it 1-0 in the 1st with a home run to the deepest part of right center, and David Wright tacked on another with a double that scored Daniel Murphy.
    • After falling behind 5-2, Jason Bay brought the Mets back closer in the 3rd with a towering 2-run homer to left.
    • After throwing out the NL's leading base-stealer in Michael Bourn in the top half of the 4th, Josh Thole tied the score with a home run to right center, just his 2nd of the year. Then after Jose Reyes walked and stole his way to third, Justin Turner cracked his second home run of the day, a shot to left, that put New York up 7-5, giving them a lead they would not relinquish. Before this game, Justin Turner had had two home runs this whole season, the only two in his career...he doubled that before the game was half-over tonight. Gotta love the quirks of baseball.
    • Even with 7 runs across the plate already, in the back of your mind you always thought, "We're gonna need more. They've got Chipper Jones. We're gonna need more." And more they got. Angel Pagan led off with a double in the 7th. With one out, Scott Hairston pinch hit for Lucas Duda and blooped a liner just out of reach of first baseman Freddie Freeman to score Pagan. 8-6. Josh Thole singled and pinch-hitter Nick Evans walked, bringing up Reyes. Jose laced a single into left-center to score one. 9-6. Justin Turner came up looking for homer #3, but instead hit a perfectly soft grounder that prevented Freeman from getting the out at home. 10-6. Game pretty much over.
    • Even the rain wasn't enough to stop the bats: David Wright led off the 8th with a walk and Pagan singled. Bay then hit a soft line drive single to left center, deep enough to score Wright and make it a good 11 runs on the night.
  • Long story, yes, I know. If you want it simple, here's the best box score stats on the day:
    • Jose Reyes: 2-4, RBI, R, 2 SB
    • Justin Turner 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI
    • Angel Pagan: 3-5, 2 R, 2 SB
    • Jason Bay: 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
    • Josh Thole: 3-4, HR, RBI, 2 R
  • The bullpen did its job for the most part too, giving up 2 runs in 4 combined innings. Bobby Parnell struck out the last guy he faced in the 8th, four times hitting the century mark on the speedometer in the inning.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Jon Niese picked up his 11th win of the year, but looked ugly doing it, allowing 5 runs (all in the 3rd) on 10 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5. Thing is, no one needs to pitch that well if your offense puts up 11 runs a game. Can you imagine what kind of record R.A. Dickey would have if we gave him this kind of run support every time he made a start? He'd be 10-5 instead of 5-10.
Final Analysis:
Baseball's a funny game. During their 5 game losing streak, the Mets managed a total of 9 runs. Tonight, they equaled that and then some. The result? What you'd normally expect from a team that scores 11 runs: a W.

With that W, New York stays alive in its highly unlikely push for the playoffs. A series win tomorrow would be all the more help, but at the very least, the Mets will not end this week with a double-digit Wild Card deficit. 9 games back, certainly 7 games back, while not encouraging, look a heck of a lot better than 11 games back.

MM

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