Overview: Jon Niese looked fantastic tonight. The Braves have a weak offense, but regardless, our increasingly impressive young lefty was in nearly complete command. The Mets left too many men on base, but with the way their starters have been going of late, four runs was fortunately enough to hold on for the win.
Summary: As has been the case all year, Jose Reyes set the tone instantly by leading off the game with an infield single, stealing second, and scoring on a Beltran single. The Braves tied it up in the 2nd without exactly smashing the ball. Ross singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then scored when Beltran bobbled a single in right off the bat of Mather.
The 3rd was much like the first for the Mets, with Jose again singling, Harris continuing his mastery of Jurrjens with a single, and then the two pulled off a successful double steal. After a Murphy walk, Pagan, far less successful against Jurrjens, lined a single to drive in Reyes. Duda then hit a sac fly to drive in Harris, giving the Mets their third run.
They tacked on another after Tejada worked out a walk, was bunted over by Niese, and driven in by the molten-hot Reyes’ third single of the night.
After Ross doubled over Pridie’s head in the bottom of the 7th to drive in Gonzalez, Niese was given a quick hook after 95 pitches. The seemingly lost Beato came in and walked Mather, so Collins went to Byrdak to face McCann, who was 0-for-6 in this matchup, and soon moved to 0–for-7 after striking out. Byrdak then struck out pinch hitter Diory Hernandez and the Braves’ biggest threat was over.
Uggla homered off of Izzy in the 8th and Chipper chased Beltran to the wall when flying out to right. The pen bent but did not break; Hinske grounded out right back to Izzy to end the 8th.
KRod mowed the Braves down in order in the 9th to earn his co-major league best 19th save and end the exciting game in perfect fashion.
Willie Harris Hitting Second!! Oh no!! Apparently, Terry Collins does know something about lineups. Before the game, some noted that Willie Harris apparently was 7-for-14 against Jurrjens, which is definitely large enough of a sample size to surmise that Harris can hit Jurrjens. In the top of the 1st Harris followed Jose’s single with a walk, and was in scoring position with no outs. In the 3rd, Harris followed another Jose single with a single of his own, stole second and eventually scored. In the top of the 6th, after Jose singled in Tejada, Harris worked out a walk, which was the last straw for Gonzalez, who pulled Jurrjens. All of this should serve as a wonderful reminder to fan/bloggers like us that a man like Terry Collins has forgotten more about baseball at the highest level than any of us will ever dream of knowing.
The Maturing Jon Niese: Niese has now allowed more than three earned runs once in his last eleven starts. The big lefty has surprised many thus far in his career. Last year he showed tremendous promise, but withered down the stretch after throwing more innings than ever before. Niese now appears more in command, more mature, and more confident than ever. He is continuing to master his repertoire, and seems on the verge of becoming a serious number two or three starter. If Niese did indeed strengthen himself for the rigors of a full major league season as he suggested this offseason, we might be witnessing the breakout year for a pitcher we could be watching for a decade or more.
On Deck: Undefeated Dillon Gee takes on Tim Hudson tomorrow evening at 7:10 in game two of the series. The Mets have now beaten the Braves four of their last five meetings, and another win tomorrow would again put the team at the elusive .500 mark. Let’s see Gee get to 8-0, continue to garner attention, and give the orange and royal blue a perfect springboard from which to begin the climb above .500 and start solidifying their upward march in the standings which hopefully will have taken another step; as of this writing the Marlins were losing to Hamels. Go Phils? Sounds strange to be sure, but as a wise man once said, my enemy’s enemy is my friend. For tonight only, let’s hope Hamels gets the win and eases the boys into third place.