Braves Fall to Mets 4-3 in 11 Innings
William Perlman

A Ruben Tejada RBI single in the 11th lifted the New York Mets over the Atlanta Braves 4-3 on Monday night.  

Recently called up catcher Christian Bethancourt put the Braves ahead 3-2 in the 8th inning with a bloop single to right field after Chris Johnson tied the game with a double off the center field wall. At that moment you thought the Braves had the game won based on how the team has played the last couple of weeks, especially the dominance the bullpen has showed.

However, with two outs in the inning, left handed pitcher Luis Avilan had Curtis Granderson in a full count when he missed his location with a fastball that cost him as Granderson tied the game up at three with a no doubter home run to right field.  Avilan shook off the rookie catcher, Christian Bethancourt, twice as he wanted the fastball outside.  Avilan threw his pitch and missed badly.  Bethancourt, frustrated by his pitcher, stood there with his hands on his hips.

Both bullpens were able to wiggle out of late inning jams.  In the bottom of the 9th there was a controversial call regarding the “neighborhood play.” After a leadoff single by Mets first baseman Eric Campbell, Juan Lagares attempted to bunt him over to second base. Braves third baseman Chris Johnson fielded the bunt and threw to Andrelton Simmons to get the force out at second and attempt to turn the double play. But like most infielders, Simmons came off the bag a little early to make sure he doesn’t get taken out at second base when you attempt to turn the double play. Mets manager Terry Collins thought the throw from Johnson pulled Simmons off the bag, but looking at the reply it was a strike right to his chest. Because the throw was on target and Simmons attempted to turn the double play, it was classified as the “neighborhood play” and under the rules it cannot be reviewed. Terry Collins appeared persuasive as the umpires came together and decided to review the play. The play was overturned, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was ejected, and it put runners at first and second with nobody out in the 9th inning.  As it turned out, Braves reliever Shae Simmons was able to continue his dominance and wiggle out of the jam.

The game continued to the 11th inning when the Mets had to face Braves reliever Anthony Varvaro, who has quietly put together a good season out of the pen. Juan Lagares doubled to left center with one out to put the Mets in position to win the game. Varvaro intentionally walked Lucas Duda to face Travis d’Arnaud. The young catcher just missed as he drove a ball to the warning track in center field, advancing Lagares to third. With two outs Varvaro had to face the light-hitting shortstop Ruben Tejada. Tejada didn’t take long as he smacked the first pitch up the middle to give the Mets a 4-3 victory.

One fair outcome that came from this game for Atlanta was Mike Minor not getting a loss. After struggling early giving up a two out RBI double to d’Arnaud and a solo shot to David Wright, Minor settled down and gave the Braves a solid outing. The left-hander went seven innings, allowing only two hits, two walks, and two runs while striking out four batters. After giving up the home run to Wright, Minor retired the final 13 batters he faced. Unfortunately for Minor, the only hits he gave up were of the extra-base variety, something he has struggled with this year. Minor has given up a homer in 10 of his 13 starts, including each his last six starts.

An unfair outcome was Daisuke Matsuzaka not getting the victory. Matsuzaka went seven shutout innings, giving up only six hits and two walks while striking out three. Matsuzaka mix and matched all night, not giving the Braves lineup many pitches to hit hard and drive out of the ballpark. The Braves had some opportunities to break through against Dice-K, but they couldn’t come through with that big hit with runners-in-scoring-position.

The Braves finished the night with a measly 1-11 with RISP, the only hit came in the 8th inning when Bethancourt singled home Chris Johnson to give the Braves the lead.

Luckily for the Braves they have their Ace and All-Star pitcher Julio Teheran going tomorrow to try and stop the two game losing streak. Teheran fared well in his last start against the Mets last week going seven innings, allowing only one run.