Ah. There's nothing like a 6-run inning against the Mets to make all seem right with the world. That, and the Padres getting blown out (the Phillies won again, of course; thanks for nothing, Jason Marquis). Down 3-0 after yet another Tommy Hanson-patented SID (Second-Inning Disaster), the Braves rallied back in the 4th.
The inning got started with a solid single up the middle by Derrek Lee. After Brian McCann struck out, Matt Diaz hit a high bouncer to David Wright at third base. Wright fielded the ball a bit awkwardly and then made a low throw to second base that Ruben Tejada couldn't field. The error gave the Braves an extra baserunner and an extra out, both of which would come back to haunt the Mets and their starter, Jon Niese.
After Alex Gonzalez fouled out (with what would have been the third out of the inning), the Braves went on a run of great at-bats and Niese fell apart. Melky Cabrera blooped a single to center to score the first run. Light-hitting Tommy Hanson followed up by somehow coaxing a walk to load the bases. Then, Omar Infante poked a ball just past Wright down the third base line for a 2-run double that tied the game at 3.
That brought up the Rookie of the Year (yeah, I'm calling it)--Jason Heyward. J-Hey ripped a 2-strike pitch from Niese off the "5 dollar footlong" sign on the edge of the second deck in right for a 3-run homer that would give the Braves all the runs they needed. That the homer was off Niese, a left-hander, made it all the more impressive. The kid is good, folks.
In addition to working that key walk, Hanson gutted his way through six innings. He gave up a solo homer to Lucas Duda in the fourth (which capped the scoring), but most of the damage was in his bugaboo inning, the second. And just like with Niese's bad inning, Hanson's inability to get his counterpart out played a big role in the scoring. After Duda singled in a run to make it 1-0, Hanson had a chance to get out of the inning down just the 1 run. All he had to do was get Niese out. Instead, he left a pitch out over the plate, and Niese got just enough of it to get it over Alex Gonzalez's head for a single. Jose Reyes followed with another RBI hit to make it 3-0.
In the midst of that inning, Braves manager Bobby Cox was tossed by his nemesis, Bill Hohn, who was working home plate tonight. The ejection seemed pretty out-of-the-blue to me, but what else is to be expected from Hohn? Tommy Hanson seemed a bit unsettled by all the huffing and puffing (possibly contributing to his poor inning), but in the end, the Braves came back and won the game after Bobby was gone. One of these days, we're going to see our last Braves comeback after a Bobby Cox ejection (and our last Bobby Cox ejection, for that matter). For some reason, I hope that day was not today.
One sour note was that Takashi Saito left the game in the 8th with some sort of injury; we'll have to wait and see exactly what is wrong, and how bad it is. Let's cross our fingers. The bullpen did some great work, though--Saito, Jonny Venters, Peter Moylan, and Billy Wagner combined to give up just 1 baserunner in 3 innings of work, striking out 4.
All in all, it was a good start to a crucial road trip. Now let's keep it going tomorrow with our ace (Tim Hudson) against their newbie (Dillon Gee).
Heyward -- 2/5, HR, R, 3 RBI, 0.291 WPA
Hanson's clean-shaven cheeks -- He looked good (though not at all like a lumberjack).
Infante -- 1/4, BB, 2B, R, 2 RBI, K, 0.184 RBI
The 'Pen -- 3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 0.251 WPA
Wright -- 0/4, -0.081 WPA hitting, plus the critical error in the 4th inning that led to all 6 Braves runs
Heyward's homer (0.290 WPA)