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Braves blow bullpen battle, lose 5-3 to Mets in 12th

Hitting the batting relief pitcher ultimately proved to be the Braves’ undoing after Sean Newcomb and Noah Syndergaard battled to a standstill.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

The Braves hung tough against Noah Syndergaard and the Mets on Friday night, but were ultimately undone in a fateful 11th inning, falling by a final score of 5-3. Josh Ravin, reinstated to the active roster today following the departure of Lucas Sims worked in and out of trouble in the 11th until finally yielding runs in the 12th, allowing the Mets to even the series at one apiece.

The game started out in exciting fashion for the Braves. Sean Newcomb was not super-crisp in this outing, and he yielded a non-competitive four pitch walk to Yoenis Cespedes with one out. But, that set up the first of what would be many double plays turned by Atlanta on the night, courtesy of a very nifty pick by Dansby Swanson that I wish I had video of.

It didn’t take long at all for the Braves to get on the board. Ozzie Albies ambushed a triple-digit Syndergaard first-pitch fastball to give the Braves a speedy 1-0 lead. Behold:

The Braves kept the pressure on Syndergaard in the second, putting two men on base, but Thor struck out Newcomb to end the threat. Then, the Mets struck back in the top of the third. Catcher Tomas Nido hit a leadoff single off Newcomb and scored on a one-out double to deep center by Amed Rosario. Ender Inciarte’s throw missed all the cutoff men and pretty much everyone, getting him charged with a throwing error and denying the Braves a chance for a play at the plate to cut down the tying run. That miscue allowed Rosario to take third, and he scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Michael Conforto, giving the Mets the lead.

The Mets and Braves would then go on to trade singleton runs in the fourth. The Mets got theirs courtesy of a Todd Frazier walk and stolen base, followed by a Wilmer Flores bouncer down the first base line. Frazier ended up scoring the third New York run, but Nick Markakis threw him out trying to stretch the hit into a double. The Braves then got a nice gift that allowed them to trim the deficit to one, as Jay Bruce misjudged and misplayed Ryan Flaherty’s liner in right field, letting it sail over him to score Dansby Swanson, who had reached base via a two-out single.

In the fifth, Newcomb skirted past two-on, two-out trouble by striking out Cespedes to end the inning. Then, in the sixth, things got wacky, sloppy, and wild.

First, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a fly ball into the slim foul territory down the right field line. Nick Markakis got a glove on the ball but couldn’t come up with it; however, after replay review, Cabrera was ruled out on fan interference. Two batters later, Wilmer Flores singled to right, setting up a really nonsensical play that you can watch yourself below. Essentially, Jay Bruce hit a mile-high pop-up into the left-field corner that Preston Tucker could not track down. Tucker then fired a 27-hopper well inside foul territory, where Kurt Suzuki snagged it and made a phenomenal leaping tag to cut down Flores before he could score the fourth New York run.

That was an important outcome, because the Braves got some more unexpected luck to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. With Syndergaard still out there, Nick Markakis hit a liner into left center to lead off the inning, and tried to stretch it into a double. The throw from Cespedes had Markakis dead to rights and out by multiple steps, but the ball skipped wide of the receiving glove, and Markakis was safe. Three pitches later, Markakis moved to third on a wild pitch from Syndergaard, and three pitches after that, Kurt Suzuki brought him home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

And tied the game stayed, for many innings thereafter. Both Newcomb and Syndergaard departed the game after six frames apiece. Newcomb finished his night having allowed six hits and three walks, while striking out five; Syndergaard allowed seven hits and zero walks while striking out six, but they had battled to a standstill, just like their bullpens did over the next four innings. For the Braves, Dan Winkler, Shane Carle, A.J. Minter, and Arodys Vizcaino tossed four innings of scoreless, one-hit ball. Winkler struck out the side in his outing, and Carle nearly got taken deep on a mistake high fastball to Wilmer Flores, but the ball died on the track and settled into Preston Tucker’s glove to end the inning. Minter converted a one-out walk into a tailor-made double play, and Vizcaino dispatched the Mets on just 11 pitches. Meanwhile, the Mets deployed Seth Lugo (two innings), A.J. Ramos (one inning), and Robert Gsellman in relief of Syndergaard to keep the Braves off the board.

The Braves helped the Mets a bit in these later innings with some poor baserunning decisions. Ryan Flaherty drew a leadoff walk against Lugo in the seventh, but a prospective rally turned to ash when pinch-hitter Johan Camargo struck out on a 3-2 pitch and Flaherty was caught stealing by about half the distance between first and second. Ozzie Albies also drew a leadoff walk against Lugo in the eighth, but was caught stealing with Nick Markakis at the plate when the Mets pitched out in a 1-2 count.

In the 11th, the newly-reinstated Josh Ravin got the call for the Braves and gave the team an adventure. Ravin walked the leadoff man, and Todd Frazier hit a little nubber that was bumbled by Freeman, putting the go-ahead run on second with none out. Ravin then recovered, getting two harmless fly outs and striking out Nido on three effective sliders. But, Ravin’s luck would run out in the 12th. The first troubling sign was plunking Robert Gsellman, the opposing team’s relief pitcher. After a sacrifice bunt and a pop out by Conforto, there was the hope Ravin would skirt on by again. However, Cespedes hit Ravin’s first pitch off the end of the bat into right field past Albies, and Nick Markakis did not make a strong throw to be able to prevent the go-ahead run from crossing the plate. The next batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, then tomahawked a Ravin mistake off the brick facade in right field, allowing Cespedes to score from first. Cabrera was cut down rounding second, but the damage was done.

The Braves got bupkis going in the bottom of the 12th against Mets closer Jeurys Familia. A fly out and two groundouts sealed the loss, dropping the Braves to 1-4 in extra-inning games on the year.

Ryan Flaherty was the only Brave tonight with multiple hits. Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman was the only starter to fail to get a hit for Atlanta, going an uncharacteristic 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

These same two teams will tangle once again tomorrow night, as Julio Teheran takes on Jacob deGrom.

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