This week’s series between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves was supposed to include three games but that did not happen as a result of an early rain-out. With that on the table, the Braves emerged with two victories in as many contests and the second win served as the clincher for the “sweep” over New York by a final score of 7-5 on Thursday afternoon.
The fireworks of the day began with back-to-back walks to Nick Markakis and Kurt Suzuki in the second innings and, with two men on, Jace Peterson (in the lineup in place of an injured Brandon Phillips) plated Markakis with a single. From there, Dansby Swanson earned a walk and R.A. Dickey drove home Suzuki with a groundout to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Mets threatened considerably, with a double from Jay Bruce and a single from Neil Walker. Ender Inciarte saved a run, though, in gunning down Bruce to preserve the shutout at that early juncture.
The Braves would soon load the bases (with no one out) in the fourth inning but the end result was a frustrating one. Atlanta squandered the opportunity after back-to-back force plays at home plate and a line-out from Ender Inciarte ended the threat.
In short order, the Mets got on the board in the bottom half of the fourth, when Walker produced an RBI double to score a pinch-runner that had entered for an injured Yoenis Cespedes. A passed by Suzuki would then cost the Braves mightily, as Walker came home to tie the game and send things into slight peril.
The fifth inning was (much) kinder to the road team, however, as Adonis Garcia led off with a single and Freddie Freeman then doubled (while breaking his bat) to bring the third baseman around for a run. After a Matt Kemp fly-out, the Mets then walked Nick Markakis intentionally with Freeman on second and, hilariously, that prompted the following tweet from yours truly.
Markakis just got walked with 1 out and a man on second. Kinda tells you all you need to know about Suzuki's bat.— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) April 27, 2017
What happened next? Well, Kurt Suzuki happened next.
The backup catcher launched an unexpected three-run home run to bust the game open at 6-2 and, in a hurry, I was forced to eat my words. The Mets did score a run quickly in the bottom of the fifth as Jose Reyes homered against Dickey but, when the starter exited, the Braves held a 6-3 lead.
That cushion turned out to be enough for the Braves but it did not come without some level of weirdness. Dickey was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth inning and that was odd at the time. given that he had only 67 pitches on his arm to the point. Later, the Braves announced that it was, in fact, an injury-related exit.
R.A. Dickey left today's game with a left quad spasm.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 27, 2017
To make matters even more interesting, Brian Snitker turned to Julio Teheran as the pinch-hitter with two position players still available and that prompted a series of baffled looks and statements from Braves Country. At the time of this post, no insight from the manager is available.
In the end, though, the final three-plus innings were largely uneventful in the best way. The bullpen combination of Eric O’Flaherty, Jose Ramirez and Arodys Vizcaino slammed the door with three effective innings to preserve the margin. In the ninth, both teams dented the scoreboard, with Atlanta scratching out an insurance run before Jim Johnson allowed two runs (sigh) in a non-save situation. Still, the final advantage was secured and the Braves escaped with a 7-5 win.
The star of the day was Suzuki, who produced half of Atlanta’s runs with one swing and reached base on three occasions. Aside from that, Dickey put together a reasonable outing (5 IP, 3 runs, 2 ER), with Nick Markakis (1-2, 2 runs, 2 walks) and Jace Peterson (2-4, RBI) producing well when given the opportunity.
This victory wraps up a badly needed two-game sweep of the rival Mets and the Braves will return to action on Friday evening in Milwaukee. Stay tuned.