MLB: Atlanta Braves at New York Mets

Game Recap September 20: Can’t watch, can’t look away

Executive Summary

Julio Teheran held the Mets to a .238 average on balls in play over seven innings. When this offense doesn’t hit home runs, it’s borderline unwatchable. Braves 5, Mets 4.

Discussion and Analysis

The Mets have lost six of eight against the Braves at Citi Field this year. Considering the Braves are 53-89 when they don’t play in Queens — that’s a .373 winning percentage — the Mets’ easy rest-of-season schedule hasn’t played out like we all expected. Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera (on base all five times last night) can’t carry the offense every game. Not when the lineup features the desiccated remains of Jay Bruce (hitting .159 as a Met) and the stunted development that is Travis d’Arnaud and his .631 OPS. The Mets have now scored just 18 runs in their last eight games. The heartwarming rotation-replacement stories of Seth Lugo and Gabriel Ynoa and, yes, Robert Gsellman won’t mean anything if the offense can’t rediscover itself down the stretch.

Gsellman was Just Fine in his fifth major-league start. In the first inning, he struck out the #HotTake hot Freddie Freeman (24-game hitting streak) and Matt Kemp (12 games) following a one-out Adonis Garcia double.  Through five innings and twice through the Braves’ bating order, Gsellman had allowed no runs on just two hits, striking out five against one walk.

As Gsellman came out for the sixth inning, facing the Braves lineup for the third time, Terry Collins showed his typical lack of forethought. Gsellman struck out Teheran to start the inning, but then gave up singles to Ender Inciarte and Garcia. A prepared manager would have readied a left-hander to face Freeman, but Collins was slow to ask Josh Smoker to loosen up. Gsellman walked Freeman — loading the bases — and was left in to face Matt Kemp. Gsellman did his job, getting Kemp to pop up to short right-center. Granderson sprinted in to catch it; the ball was shallow enough that Inciarte was going to have trouble tagging from third. But Jay Bruce intruded on Granderson’s personal space, the center fielder pulled up short, and the ball landed between them for a “single.”

Collins then made the belated move, calling on Smoker to face Nick Markakis with the bases still loaded. Smoker seemed to get Markakis looking …

… but the blown call resulted in a full count instead of a strikeout. Smoker missed with his last pitch to walk in a run. Collins next went to Fernando Salas, who got Tyler Flowers to pop up on the infield for the second out. Salas went to a full count on Jace Peterson, who hit the ball on the screws to center field. Granderson caught it on the warning track, but the Mets were down 2-1.

Two-to-one is the kind of deficit the from which the recent Mets can recover, but last night the bullpen poured fuel on the fire. Jerry Blevins relieved Salas in the seventh inning after Dansby Swanson led off with a single. Blevins hung breaking balls to Ender Inciarte, who singled, and Adonis Garcia, who lost the ball over the left field wall. The Garcia dinger increased the Braves’ lead to an insurmountable 5-1.

That first Met run scored after Jose Reyes led off the bottom of the third inning with a triple that that rattled around the right-field chicken-wire fence. Cabrera blooped a fly ball to the opposite field. Matt Kemp is slow, so Cabrera hustled into second with a double. Once at second base, Cabrera was the target of multiple pickoff throws, from both Teheran and catcher Tyler Flowers. Cabrera slid back into second on his balky right knee, after which he limped and grimaced whenever the camera found him. If and when the Mets clinch a Wild Card spot before the season ends, the first order of business should be resting Cabrera so he’s healthier for the playoffs.

The Braves almost imploded in the eighth. The three-run inning featured a walk to Cabrera, a beaned Yoenis Cespedes, a Granderson double, Eric Campbell (in his first big-league at-bat since May!) successfully pinch-hitting for Jay Bruce, and Kevin Plawecki pinch-hitting for James Loney and reaching on an error. The Braves’ saving grace was that Collins couldn’t or wouldn’t pinch-hit for d’Arnaud, who weakly grounded to shortstop to end the inning. The Mets are now zero-and-63 when trailing after eight innings. If there’s a silver lining to this ugly loss, it’s that Terry may finally have had enough Jay Bruce 0-fers.

Contemporaneous Thoughts


“Sometimes it looks like Freeman moves like a big crane. I mean the bird, not the machine.” — Gary

“It’s always good to have your veterans playing through aches and pains. It sets an example for your young kids.” — Keith, watching Cabrera suffer around the basepaths

“The whole trick to pitching, unless you’re a guy who strikes out the world, is that you have to produce bad contact by the hitters.” — Ron, unintentionally describing the Mets’ offense


Bartolo goes for career MLB win number 233 tonight against Ryan Weber, who, with a career 5.13 ERA, will be fortunate to pitch 233 MLB innings.

Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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