The Braves have had numerous come-from-behind wins in May, but could not pull that same rabbit out of a hat once again, falling to the Mets by a 4-1 score to endure a series split in the four-game set. Unlike some games where you really need the narrative to truly understand how everything transpired, this game can easily be recapped with a series of bullets that get the point across.
- The Atlanta offense could do absolutely nothing against Jason Vargas, which was inexplicable and the cause of much consternation. Vargas came into this game not only as a bottom 10 pitcher in MLB, but on three days’ rest as a result of the Mets’ pitching woes and Noah Syndergaard’s finger injury. It’s not like the Braves haven’t been able to hit Vargas, either: they thrashed him earlier this year in a blowout. But, that was not to be on this particular night. Vargas allowed just three baserunners in five innings (and Julio Teheran also reached on an error in the fifth).
- Julio Teheran was pretty good, but it wasn’t enough. Teheran finished his night with seven innings of two-run ball, allowing five hits and three walks while striking out three. He escaped a two-walk self-created jam in the first with no damage, but allowed the game’s first run as both Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez doubled in the fourth. He looked like he was going to be able to finish seven frames with just that single blemish, but Amed Rosario tagged him for a two-out triple, and Teheran was inexplicably left in to face the order a fourth time, where he allowed a bloop single to the platoon advantage-holding Brandon Nimmo for the game’s second run. Teheran was able to pick Nimmo off to avoid facing another batter who had already seen him three times, but the damage was done.
- The bullpen did not shine. Shane Carle came on for the eighth, allowed a double to Jose Bautista, and then issued back-to-back walks (one intentional). With Gonzalez coming up, Brian Snitker summoned the southpaw Sam Freeman, who allowed a first-pitch RBI single. Freeman recovered to elicit a double play off the bat of Luis Guillorme, but again, the damage was done. Then, in the ninth, Miguel Socolovich entered a two-run game and made it a three-run game posthaste, allowing back-to-back one-out doubles to Rosario and Nimmo.
- The offense blew a big scoring chance courtesy of a double play off the bat of Nick Markakis in the eighth. Johan Camargo put the Braves on the board against Mets reliever Tim Peterson, who entered the game after Vargas’ five innings, with his fourth home run of the year. Peterson, making his major league debut, retired the Braves handily in the sixth and even hit for himself in the top of the seventh, but got tagged for the line shot into the right field bleachers by a patient Camargo who ambushed a 3-1 fastball. In the eighth, Mickey Callaway went for the jugular by sending his top reliever, Jeurys Familia, to the hill against the heart of the Atlanta order. With one out, both Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman singled to right. That brought Nick Markakis up to the plate, but his sky-high grounder rate (which hasn’t hurt him too badly in May so far) totally fouled the game up for the Braves, as Markakis smashed a ball up the middle that was fielded by a diving Rosario. Laying prone, Rosario flipped the ball to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, who barehanded the ball and fired to first to complete the inning-ending double play and stifle the Braves’ hopes. The bottom of the order then went 1-2-3 in the ninth against Robert Gsellman to end the game.
With the loss and Washington’s win over the Orioles, the Braves again fall out of first place. They currently sit half a game back of the Nationals, and may be joined there by the Phillies before the night is done if the Dodgers falter. Still, the Braves have ample opportunity to continue making noise in the division, as they are on tap for a four-game set against the Nationals starting tomorrow night.
The Braves managed just five hits and two walks offensively; Freddie Freeman (two singles) and Dansby Swanson (0-for-1, two walks) were the only players to reach base twice. Dustin Peterson flew out in his second career plate appearance as a pinch-hitter in the seventh; using him rather than Preston Tucker was a potentially-questionable call as Tucker would have given the Braves the platoon advantage. Tucker grounded out to end the game instead. Brandon Nimmo, Adrian Gonzalez, and Amed Rosario each collected two hits for the Mets; Nimmo and Gonzalez drove in all the Mets’ runs, while Rosario scored two of them and made the diving stop that rent the Braves’ hearts in the eighth.