The Braves and Mets completed an incredibly speedy (two hours and twelve minutes) and exciting game on Wednesday afternoon, highlighted by Mike Soroka’s six no-hit innings in his return from the Disabled List. The Braves scored once in the fourth and again on Freddie Freeman’s solo home run in the eighth as Soroka and the bullpen stifled a woeful Mets offense once again.
The real story in this game was the pitching, as both Soroka and deGrom were brutally tough on opposing hitters. Soroka faced the minimum through six, with the only thing keeping him from a half-dozen perfect frames a leadoff walk to Jay Bruce in the second. Soroka then erased Bruce on a double play ball off the bat of Kevin Plawecki, and carved up the next 13 batters he faced.
Jacob deGrom wasn’t having too many issues with Atlanta batters, either. He retired the first 10 Braves until Dansby Swanson rocketed a line drive double into right field. Freddie Freeman then hit a soft liner to left on a 1-2 pitch that was not cleanly fielded by Brandon Nimmo in left field. Swanson was racing to home on the play anyway, and ended up scoring without a throw. The Braves got another hit later in the inning thanks to a soft liner to center of Kurt Suzuki’s bat. Michael Conforto ended up overrunning that ball and allowing Freeman to advance to third, but deGrom easily destroyed Charlie Culberson on three pitches to prevent any further damage. The Braves managed two singles in the fifth, but Swanson hit a weak groundout that deGrom fielded to end that rally.
Soroka’s no-hit bid came to an end in the seventh, as leadoff man Michael Conforto hit a grounder that required Swanson to range too far to make an effective play on. Swanson’s last-ditch effort to preserve the no-hitter was errant. Soroka struck out Todd Frazier, but not before a wild pitch that went through Suzuki’s legs allowed Conforto, then the tying run, to move to second. With Frazier down swinging, Brian Snitker emerged from the dugout to end Soroka’s night. The Canadian’s finale line was tremendous: six and a third innings, one hit, one walk, and four strikeouts.
The Atlanta bullpen then did serious work to preserve the shutout. A.J. Minter came on and struck out Nimmo, and then got Jay Bruce to hit a foul pop that was hauled in by Johan Camargo.
With deGrom still out there, the Braves tried to extend their lead. Ender Inciarte notched a hustle double on a grounder through the right side. He would have been thrown out, but Jay Bruce’s throw was to the wrong side of the bag. Inciarte then attempted to steal third (ugh) but was thrown out, which proved costly because Johan Camargo finished his plate appearance with a scalded double off the right-field wall. Pinch-hitter Preston Tucker then struck out, and the 1-0 lead persisted into the eighth. deGrom’s night ended with seven innings of one-run ball with seven hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts. He took his second loss of the year despite the stellar outing, and the Mets still haven’t won a deGrom start against the Braves this year.
Daniel Winkler made quick work of the Mets in the eighth, working around a one-out walk to Dominic Smith and striking out former Brave Jose Bautista with a 92 mph cutter at the top of the zone. The Mets tabbed Jerry Blevins to pitch the eighth, which turned sinister when Freddie Freeman drilled a Blevins curveball into right center for his 14th home run of the year. Despite being a lefty specialist, Blevins has now allowed 12 hits in 23 at-bats to Freeman, though this was his first homer yielded to the early MVP candidate.
As he sometimes does, Arodys Vizcaino made things more interesting than he needed to in the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera hit a hard liner to right field that was brought down by Nick Markakis. Vizcaino then issued a five-pitch walk to Conforto and struck out Frazier on a very, very, very, very, very questionable called strike three. Nimmo then lined an 0-2 Vizcaino offering into the right field corner, putting the tying run in scoring position. Vizcaino brought his best fastball at 98 mph right down the middle to Jay Bruce, and Bruce popped it up to shortstop to end the game.
The Mets were held to just two hits and three walks in the contest. Freeman drove in both of the Braves’ runs; he and Camargo were the only Braves with multihit efforts. After finally getting some walks last night, the Braves once again went without a free pass offensively.
The Padres come to town tomorrow as the Braves seek revenge for a series loss in San Diego earlier in June. The pitching matchup for the opener will be Tyson Ross and Anibal Sanchez.