Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Game #12: Braves 14, Mets 6

R.A. Dickey’s stretch of 14 consecutive quality starts comes to an end Wednesday, as the Braves chase him after 4-1/3 innings. Dickey takes the loss and allows eight earned runs. (
Throughout the afternoon, it seemed like the Mets were battling the baseball equivalent of the hydra: when they cut off one head from the Atlanta lead, two more grew in its place. It wasn't pretty for Hercules when he tried it, and it wasn't pretty for New York either.

R.A. Dickey's consecutive quality starts streak came crashing down and the Mets couldn't capitalize on all their chances, falling to the Braves 14-6 in their road trip finale.

The Bad Stuff
  • Since last July, the name R.A. Dickey has meant "quality start" in the eyes of Met fans. He had 14 straight going and the offense was good enough today that it would have gotten him his 7th win in those 15 starts. Problem was on this day, it was Dickey who came up short. Maybe it was the wet conditions tampering with his knuckleball, or maybe was just overdue for a dud. Whatever it was, it wasn't typical R.A., who allowed 8 runs on 8 hits in 4.1 innings, including 3 home runs, his most since joining New York in 2010. I would classify this as nothing but a blip, but it was a shocking blip, no doubt.
  • The rest of the pitching didn't live up to its season-opening standards either: Bobby Parnell, Tim Byrdak, and Frank Francisco each allowed 2 runs in their time on the mound; it was the first runs that crossed on Byrdak's and Francisco's time all season.
    • The most remarkable aspect of today's game was how the Mets gave up runs: in every single inning they scored, the Braves scored double that in the bottom half of the frame, plus 2 more in the 7th when New York didn't score. I've never seen anything like that; it was just like something out of Greek mythology.
  • While they managed 6 runs on the afternoon, with 14 hits the New York offense should have plated more. They hit 7-18 with RISP (a good batting average but my goodness, to only score 1/3 of a run for every at-bat? Not great) and stranded 11. They threatened in just about every inning, but once they got a run across, the engine stalled enough for the Braves to get a handle on them.
The Good Stuff
  • With 6 runs and 14 hits, you're gonna see some guys with good numbers. The most encouraging line came from Ike Davis, who went 2-5 and hit his 3rd home run in 4 games in the top of the 2nd.
  • David Wright went 2-5 and drove in 3 runs, tying Darryl Strawberry's franchise RBI record with 733. This also makes it 9 straight games to start the season in which Wright got on base at least twice; the last time that happened in the majors was in 2002 when Mike Cameron did it for the Seattle Mariners.
  • Every regular starter got at least one hit today. The most notable were:
    • Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who started his first game in the leadoff slot and went 3-4 with 2 doubles, a walk, 3 runs, and an RBI. Captain Kirk is hitting .375 in his first stretch in the majors, and with Andres Torres still struggling to get to rehab, there's a chance he has played his way into the centerfield role for good.
    • Daniel Murphy, who went 2-4 with a run and an RBI.
    • Jason Bay, who went 1-3 but drew 2 walks and didn't strike out. He's now hitting above the Mendoza line for the year.
Final Analysis:
Definitely not the way you want to end a road trip. The team's stellar honeymoon of a start appears to be over after 4 series and a 7-5 record. Still better than expected, I'll give you that. But recent numbers may be cause for alarm: in the last 4 games, New York has given up 32 runs; they gave up just 22 in their first 8 games.

An off day tomorrow before the next homestand is just what this team needs. The reality of the long season is beginning to set in, and we now have two pictures of what the Mets can be in 2012: the solid team of young players all doing their part, or the inexperienced team that is in over its head. We're about to find out which one is true. If it's the first, we're in for a treat. If it's the second, we're in for a long 5 months.


P.S. So long, Dick Clark.

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