It has been a trying time for Atlanta Braves starter Julio Teheran (5-3, 4.67 ERA) this season, but when his team needed a big win against the New York Mets, and “The Dark Night” Matt Harvey (7-5, 3.18 ERA), he was flawless. The Braves completed the three-game sweep of the Mets Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 victory. Atlanta is once again at the .500 mark and is two games behind the first place Washington Nationals.
This was Teheran’s best start of the season as he went seven shutout innings allowing only one hit, two walks and five strikeouts. The only hit the Braves right-hander allowed was a leadoff single by Wilmer Flores in the fifth inning, it would be eradicated shortly after with a double play. Teheran improved to 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA in his seven starts at Turner Field.
Matt Harvey wasn’t a slouch today either as he went 6.2 innings allowing one run on six hits, while striking out five and walking only one batter. Harvey’s bugaboo was falling behind and working deep counts to the Braves pesky lineup. He was able to execute when he needed a strike but the Braves were able to drive up his pitch count. Harvey finished with 115 pitches on the evening.
Today’s offensive hero came from utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco who drove in the Braves only run with a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh with two outs in the inning. The biggest question being asked at the time was, “Why is Fredi Gonzalez pinch-hitting for Julio Teheran considering his dominance and the fact he has only thrown 78 pitches?” Well Gonzalez looked like a genius because Ciriaco served a soft single to center field that drove in the lumbering backup catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who crushed a double the at-bat before that almost cleared the fence.
What made this win sweeter for Atlanta are two things. One, Atlanta’s bullpen shut the door with little excitement as the trio of Nick Masset, Dana Eveland and Jim Johnson made quick work of a depleted Mets lineup. Johnson recorded his fourth save of the season as Braves closer Jason Grilli was unavailable to pitch. And two, the Braves swept, at the time, the first place Mets without their best player Freddie Freeman, who is a Met killer. Atlanta’s offense wasn’t rolling on all cylinders but they did the little things and relied on the pitching staff to pick up the load.
This series should give the Braves confidence moving forward as they found ways to win against three electric starters in Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey. Now they will head to Washington to face a Nationals rotation that has similar arms to the Mets. New York will try to fix their road woes as they will continue their road trip to Milwaukee where they will face the struggling Brewers.