Monday, April 16, 2012

Game #10: Mets 6, Braves 1

Jason Bay robbing the Braves’ Jack Wilson of a home run. Bay hit one himself in the ninth. (
For years, Chipper Jones made New York his punching bag. In early 2012, the Mets are returning the favor.

Ike Davis's 3-run homer in the 6th highlighted a strong night at the plate, and Dillon Gee was bold and strong at the plate as the Mets took their fourth straight over the Braves, 6-1.

The Good Stuff
  • He's baaa-aaack! After taking some time to get going, Ike Davis has hit 2 home runs in the last 2 games. Last night's gave his team an early lead, tonight's gave them a lead they would not let go. With the score tied 1-1 and one out in the top of the 6th, Ruben Tejada smacked a double against the wall (his 6th of the year). Daniel Murphy grounded out to advance the runner, and then things start to get interesting. Rather than pitch to a red-hot David Wright, who already had a hit in the game, Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson, a right-hander, decided he'd rather try his luck against left-handed Ike Davis. So Wright was given the IBB and Davis was given 4 straight curveballs, something Ron Darling noted could backfire on Hanson. Like half a minute later, Hanson's fifth curveball landed in the right field stands after being sent like a rocket off of Ike's bat. The Mets were up 4-1 and whatever momentum was left in a sparse Turner Field crowd was snuffed out.
  • Let's not forget the man who follows Ike in the batting order also had a heck of a night. If they kept track of this sort of stat (and they probably do but I'm not in the mood for alphabet soup tonight), Jason Bay would be +2 in terms of runs tonight. One run comes from the home run he took away from Jack Wilson on a terrific snag in the bottom of the 5th (watch Web Gems tonight; that was a legit home run!). The other came as insurance in the top of the 9th when he belted a Livan Hernandez sinker into dead center.
  • Ruben Tejada also picked up an RBI on a groundout in the 3rd and Josh Thole scored on a wild pitch in the 7th.
  • With Giants' beardmaster Brian Wilson done for the year, Dillon Gee officially takes over the title of Coolest Facial Hair in Baseball, a title he followed up with a stellar performance on the mound. Gee went the standard 7 innings and allowed 1 run on 4 hits, walking 1 and striking out 5. His most impressive frame was his last: with none out and 1 on, Gee got a double play ball out of Jason Heyward, but Thole was called for catcher's interference, turing 2 out and none on into 2 on and none out. As cold as ice, The Goatee struck out Eric Hinske on a 3-2 fastball, made a nice play on a tough Jack Wilson groundball, and went after Juan Francisco with a 2-2 fastball to end the threat.
  • After Dillon made his exist, the bullpen took care of the rest, with Jon Rauch keeping his spotless ERA in the 8th and Tim Byrdak going 1-2-3 in the 9th to make it 4 in a row against the noodle-armed tomahawk chop.
The Bad Stuff
  • Daniel Murphy and Lucas Duda were the only Met starters (pitcher notwithstanding) to go hitless, each going 0-4.
Final Analysis:
I'm getting used to this winning thing! So are the Mets, as they appear to have found a winning formula. If the starter turns in a strong performance (check), if Tejada and Murphy set the table and get on base (not so much tonight but in general yes), if someone from the middle of the order makes the delivery (Davis and Bay did so tonight), and if the bullpen comes in to slam the door shut (check), most of the time New York will have a W next to them in the morning papers.

The key part of that equation is the production from the middle of the order. The 3-4-5-6 guys are key to New York's success at the plate this year. They've got 4 guys who have power potential (each has at least 2 home runs with Duda at 3 now). If just one of them goes yard or delivers a big extra base hit, it goes a long way to winning ballgames. They've been able to take turns coming up big this year, and it has paid solid dividends.

Most people would have thought the Mets would be 3-7 at this point, not 7-3. They've risen to #10 in this week's ESPN Power Rankings. This team is winning and they're starting to turn heads. All they have to do is keep consistent and they'll turn a lot more.


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