What started out as an entertaining pitcher’s duel ended up getting out of hand for our Braves once the bullpen entered, as a disastrous seventh inning ended up being more than enough for the Mets to claim a 6-0 victory on Opening Day.
There was always a very good chance that we were going to be in for a low-scoring affair this afternoon, and for six innings that’s exactly what we got from Julio Teheran and Noah Syndergaard. As it turned out, neither man blinked when it came to giving up runs, but both teams had their opportunities to put runs on the scoreboards with the starters in the game.
The Braves had a chance in the fourth inning, which is when Freddie Freeman hit a liner to right field that got past Jay Bruce. Bruce also made a meal out of fielding it, which is what allowed ol’ “Wheels” Freeman to leg it out into a triple. With only one out, this seemed like a golden opportunity for either Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis to bring in Freeman for the first run of the day. Unfortunately, Noah Syndergaard mowed through both of them to get out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom half of the fourth, the Mets were able to get runners on first and second thanks to a Curtis Granderson single, a wild pitch, and a Jay Bruce walk. With a runner in scoring position and only one out, Julio Teheran was in a bit of a jam at this point, but he was able to work his way out of it by striking out Lucas Duda and then inducing a ground-out to end the inning without any damage.
The Braves had another scoring opportunity in the sixth inning, which is when Dansby Swanson and Freddie Freeman both reached base with one-out singles. Swanson was able to go from first-to-third on Freeman’s single, and the stage was once again set for either Kemp or Markakis to put the Braves on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, their plans were foiled by Syndergaard yet again, as Thor struck out Kemp and got Markakis to feebly fly out to end the frame.
Both starters exited the game after the sixth inning, and this turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Braves on Opening Day. Ian Krol entered in relief of Julio Teheran and promptly gave up a leadoff single. Soon after that, Krol found himself in a one-out jam when Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes both got on base.
The turning point of the game came at this point when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a grounder to center. Ender Inciarte fielded it and fired off a laser of a throw that should have gotten the runner out at home and added another Citi Field moment to his defensive resume. This moment was foiled because Tyler Flowers received the ball from behind home plate instead of at the dish, so Flores was able to beat the tag with his foot. As you can see, Inciarte was not pleased with Flowers’ defensive efforts on his throw.
Inciarte was not happy with the Braves catcher after that play with Flores at home. "I don't know why he's behind the plate". pic.twitter.com/FQeMPUqqb6— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) April 3, 2017
It only got worse from there. Chaz Roe saw one batter, walked the batter, and exited in favor of Eric O’Flaherty. EOF was the surprise success story of spring training, but his first major league appearance in 2017 looked a lot like what we saw out of him last season. He gave up a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0, then walked two consecutive Mets — including walking Jay Bruce with the bases loaded — to make it 3-0, and then Lucas Duda delivered the knockout blow with a double over Ender Inciarte’s head to clear the bases and make it 6-0 Mets. After EOF capped off his performance with a walk to Travis d’Arnaud, that was enough for Brian Snitker to give him the hook. After a passed ball, Jose Ramirez managed to get Wilmer Flores to ground out in order to end the disastrous seventh inning.
#Braves, first 6 innings, Teheran: 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 96/59 pitches— Kyle Tait (@HearKyleTait) April 3, 2017
7th inning, Krol/Roe/O'Flaherty/Ramirez: 3 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 0 K, 49/21
The seventh inning ended up being the only inning where scoring happened, as the Braves ended up getting shut out on the day. Atlanta definitely had their opportunities to get ahead early, but it probably would’ve ended up being for naught if that was how the bullpen would end up performing on the day. The Mets capitalized on their chances while the Braves failed to do so. It’s that simple.
The Braves surely aren’t going to be this bad all year, but they’re off to a tiny bit of a stumble out of the gates after Game 1. The good news is that there’s 161 of these left, so the train’s still on the tracks for now. However, I think it’s safe to say that this will be one of the least memorable Opening Days that the Braves have had in a while.