The Braves offense scored early and often and Aaron Blair did his part, as the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets, 7-3, on Monday night at Citi Field.
Blair hurled six quality innings, as he notched his first career big league win (1-6 on the year). He allowed just two runs — both on a T.J. Rivera home run in the fourth inning — on four hits in his first start since August 28.
The Braves gave Blair about three weeks off to focus on his mechanics with pitching coach Roger McDowell, and the obvious change was the drastic reduction in his pivot and coil before pushing off the mound. Before, he turned his back almost completely to the hitter. On Monday, that turn had been reduced by at least half.
Whatever it was worked, and the offense took the pressure off him early, scoring a pair of runs in the second inning, one in the third, and two more in the fourth, as it knocked young flamethrower Noah Syndergaard out of the game after just 3 2⁄3 innings.
Syndergaard piled up 99 pitches in that limited frame of work.
Atlanta loaded the bases in the second inning, and rookie Dansby Swanson capitalized, getting the Braves on the board first with an opposite-field single. Ender Inciarte did something similar two batters later, fighting off a pitch to left to plate another run.
Freddie Freeman blasted his 31st home run of the season to left field in the third inning to make the score 3-0 and extend his impressive hitting streak to 23 games, playing in his third game as a new father. He made it 5-0 after a two-run double the following inning. Freeman finished the night 4-for-5.
Swanson had a three-hit night, and drove in two more runs in the seventh inning on a hit to left. The rookie looked impressive at the plate, showing the versatility to hit the ball to all fields.
Matt Kemp went 2-for-5, but most impressive were his consecutive outstanding diving catches in left field in the seventh inning. Nick Markakis also had a multi-hit evening.
Mauricio Cabrera, Jose Ramirez, and Jim Johnson each hurled an inning out of the Braves’ bullpen in relief of Blair.
For the Mets, Curtis Granderson went 3-for-4 and James Loney registered three hits, including an RBI double in the ninth.
Both teams play again Tuesday night. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. ET.