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Braves downed by late Mets rally in 6-4 Spring Training loss

Ronald Acuna and some teammates had good games, but the Braves lost anyway

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

After the always entertaining tie (!) on Tuesday, the Atlanta Braves were back in action on Wednesday afternoon and, for the sixth game of Spring Training, the New York Mets served as the opponent. As you may remember, the Braves and Mets squared off in the Grapefruit League opener with the Mets emerging victorious and, in the “rematch” of sorts, the Braves snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, falling victim to a ninth-inning rally.

The early going was marked by impressive pitching from Brandon McCarthy. The veteran tossed three innings of one-hit, shutout baseball with three strikeouts (against one walk) and McCarthy needed only 21 pitches to navigate the three frames in effective fashion.

Offensively, Atlanta did create a run in the second inning, though it came as a result of a Dansby Swanson double play. In general, the Braves didn’t struggle mightily against Mets starter Matt Harvey but little damage was executed.

In replacing McCarthy, Shane Carle ran into significant trouble in the fourth inning. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed a home run to the first batter he faced and, from there, quickly loaded the bases without recording a single out. On the bright side, Carle then induced a double play (that scored a run) but an RBI single followed and the Braves were in a 3-1 hole.

In the fourth inning, Danny Santana produced his second hit of the day, notching a double to lead off the proceedings. Both Freddie Freeman and Tyler Flowers struck out in that favorable spot but, on cue, New York’s Zack Wheeler uncorked two (yes, two) wild pitches that allowed Santana to score and slash the deficit.

Kolby Allard took the hill for Atlanta for the fifth and sixth innings and the young left-hander emerged with six outs while avoiding any damage on the scoreboard. The 20-year-old did allow two walks in the fifth (and a hit-by-pitch in the sixth) but Allard managed to throw only 16 pitches with the benefit of defensive help and, in general, it was likely a successful outing.

Following Allard’s exit and with the score sitting at 3-2, Aaron Blair entered the fray to begin the seventh. The right-hander zoomed through a scoreless frame while allowing only one base-runner and, while it wasn’t much to evaluate, Blair did no damage to his bid to make the Opening Day roster.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Braves strung together three consecutive singles, with the final blow coming from Ronald Acuna. His base hit brought home two runs to give Atlanta the lead at 4-3. Later, Acuna stole a base but he was stranded on third at the end of the inning.

Jessie Biddle then completed a scoreless eighth inning and, amusingly, it was punctuated by a double play off the bat of none other than Tim Tebow.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the ninth inning was not so uneventful. Josh Ravin looked like he was going to make quick work of the Mets after getting two looking strikeouts. But, a single, wild pitch, and another single later, the game was tied. The next batter, Arnaldo Berrios, then took Ravin deep, giving the Amazins a 6-4 advantage. Ravin also struck out the next batter, capping his struck-out-the-side-but-gave-up-three-runs performance.

Acuna, leading off and playing center field on this particular afternoon, finished 2 for 4 with two RBI and a stolen base, while Danny Santana produced a big-time performance with three hits in four plate appearances. Elsewhere on the offense, Preston Tucker added two hits in three plate appearances, Tyler Flowers scored a run and walked, Dansby Swanson contributed two singles, and both Rio Ruiz and Austin Riley were hitless in two trips to the dish. Carle and Ravin were the only pitchers to allow runs for the Braves, each giving up a three-spot in their respective innings of work.

The Braves will be back in action on Thursday afternoon and, for the first time in 2018, the team will be operating in split-squad fashion in taking on the Tigers and Nationals. Stay tuned.

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