Sunday, September 18, 2011

Game #153: Mets 7, Braves 5

Dillon Gee can't protect a 4-1 lead but isn't saddled with the loss in the Mets' 7-5 comeback win. (
On a day when Jose Reyes was out of the lineup for routine rest, New York needed someone to step up and be the sparkplug. They got it in Reyes' replacement.

Ruben Tejada drove in 4 runs, including the go-ahead score in the 8th, helping the Mets take the game and the series from the Braves, 7-5.

The Good Stuff:
  • It starts and ends with the man in the leadoff position. Ruben Tejada moved over to his natural position of shortstop in place of a resting Reyes.
    • In the top of the 4th, Dillon Gee drew a 2-out bases-loaded walk to bring Tejada to the plate; Ruben made starter Brandon Beachy pay with a laser of a double to the wall in left center, clearing the bases and giving the Mets a 4-1 lead.
    • In the 8th, Tejada came up again under almost identical circumstances: Ronny Paulino had drawn a 2-out bases-loaded walk that tied the score at 5. Ruben again gave the Amazin's the lead with a bloop single that dropped just in front of Jason Heyward in right. Justin Turner was thrown out at home to end the inning, but New York had the lead again, and Tejada finished a stellar day 2-4 with 4 RBIs.
    • 21-year-old Tejada has proven himself a major leaguer this year; he's hitting a solid .279 and has an OBP of .356 with 14 doubles and 32 RBIs in 297 at-bats. With 2011 almost in the books, it's time to start thinking about what this team might look like next year. Individually, the biggest question mark will be whether Jose Reyes decides to re-sign. Earlier this season when Jose was All-World, the idea of him in another team's uniform would be the worst thing for Met fans. But now, while the idea certainly isn't something to root for, it appears the Mets will have a solid replacement in Ruben Tejada.
  • After Dillon Gee struggled on the mound, the bullpen stepped in to keep the damage from getting too much. Tim Byrdak picked up the W after 2/3 innings and a couple strikeouts, and Bobby Parnell and Manny Acosta navigated through a rough 8th and 9th to keep the game with the good guys.
    • Speaking of Byrdak, the team announced after the game that he had been signed to a one-year contract extension. Byrdak's old, he'll be 38 in October, but he's been one of the most consistent arms (and the go-to lefty, often the only one available) in the bullpen this year with a 2.89 ERA and 46 Ks in 37 1/3 frames. He's definitely earned a spot on roster next season.
  • Lucas Duda added an insurance run in the 9th with a monster shot to dead center off Craig Kimbrel.
The Bad Stuff:
  • Dillon Gee struggled on the mound, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, walking 5 and striking out 4.
  • The team as a whole swung and missed quite a bit this afternoon, racking up 10 Ks, 8 of which came against starter Beachy. The inning-to-inning trend is reassuring, not striking out as much late, but cutting down on the Ks would always be the best option.
Final Analysis:
A series win in Atlanta. What more can you ask for? This weekend helps detox from last week's homestand and gives the team momentum going into St. Louis for their final road series of 2011. At 73-80, the team would need to win all 9 games to finish with a winning record. While this would take a miracle, a decent 6-3 over this stretch would make it 79-83, just like last year. Only difference is, last year's 79-83 left a sting. This year's 79-83 wouldn't be bad at all.


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