Whew. Series like this can be tough to watch. At least the Braves avoided a sweep. The Braves need serious bullpen help… and they need it now. Until the Braves can provide some much needed pitching consistency, it is going to be very tough for them to win games. If your bullpen cannot preserve a late inning lead- especially a close lead- your team is going to have a much harder time coming back to tie the game let alone come back and win it.
Game One: Max Fried vs. Taijuan Walker, Braves lost 3-1
Fried pitched very well for the Braves. He went six innings allowing five hits, one run, only gave up two walks, and he had eight strikeouts. Fried starting the top of the seventh inning but had to leave the game with a left hand (his pitching hand) cramp. The one positive thing about Fried’s exit was that he wasn’t seriously hurt. He was mainly taken out because it was giving him discomfort and the Braves could not afford another serious injury to a pitcher… especially a starting pitcher.
The Mets started the scoring after Fried was taken out. Before his exit he gave up a leadoff double to Tomas Nido and then Jacob Webb came on in relief of Max Fried. Webb has had some sketchy outings for the Braves. However, I will give him some credit, in the midst of those sketchy outings, he has had some decent outings. This one was not one of those rare outings. He gave up an RBI double to the first batter he saw (James McCann) which scored Nido and gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. After a sac bunt by Johneshwy Fargas, Webb gave up a walk to Fransisco Lindor. Lindor stole second base as well. In the following AB, Webb struck out Pete Alonso, and then Dominic Smith was intentionally walked. That loaded the bases with Mets runners. There are now two out, and the bases are loaded. And what does Jacob Webb do? He hits Kevin Pillar smack in the face with the pitch. Obviously it was not intentional in the slightest. Pillar was able to walk off the field but he was bloody and definitely in pain. Webb was seriously shaken up, so Brian Snitker did the right thing and took him out of the game. Following Jacob Webb, Sean Newcomb came on to pitch and he got the final out of the inning, leaving the bases loaded with Mets, and the score at 2-0 Mets on top.
Sean Newcomb stayed in the game and pitched the top of the eighth inning for the Braves. He got Jose Peraza out to start the inning, gave up a single to Tomas Nido, got another out from Jake Hager on a wild pitch which allowed Nido to advance to second, and then Newcomb gave up a double to Johneshwy Fargas that made it 3-0 Mets. Following that, he gave up a walk to Lindor and then got the final out of the inning on a pop out by Pete Alonso.
In the bottom of the eighth inning Austin Riley put the Braves on the board with a colossal home run to right center field. That made the game 3-1, Mets still on top.
That was the final score of the game because the Braves offense could not produce in the bottom of the ninth inning. Once again, the Braves bullpen did not keep the shut out and could not limit the run damage to one run.
Game Two: Tucker Davidson vs. Miguel Castro, Braves lost 4-3
Tucker Davidson made his 2021 debut for the Braves. He pitched considerably well given how good the Mets are this season. He went six innings, allowed five hits, gave up three runs, one walk, and had five strikeouts. The Braves have had injuries to the starting rotation, so it was nice to see that a young guy like Davidson could come up from Triple-A Gwinnett and give the Braves a quality outing. The only two blemishes on his performance was a two run homer by Jonathan Villar, and a sac fly in the top of the sixth by Pete Alonso. Other than that he was very good on the mound.
The Braves scored their first run of the night in the bottom of the fifth inning on a solo home run to right center field by Austin Riley. Right now, Riley has been the hottest hitter for the Braves. He is hitting the baseball to all fields, getting on base constantly, and providing some needed offense for the Braves. They scored their second run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a solo home run by Freddie Freeman, making the score 3-2. The Braves were getting closer. And then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, Marcell Ozuna tied the game at 3-3 with an RBI single that scored Ehire Adrianza.
Okay, top of the ninth inning… tied ballgame. Will Smith comes on to pitch for the Braves. He gets the first two batters out with no problem. Then he gives up a solo home run to Tomas Nido, making it a 4-3 game with the Mets on top. Once again, in a tied game, the Braves bullpen could not maintain the tie.
In the bottom of the ninth inning the Braves could not come up with any late inning offense, therefore the Mets took game two with a final score of 4-3.
Game Three: Charlie Morton vs. David Peterson, Braves won 5-4
This game was intense in the late innings. Both teams scored runs late, and ultimately the Braves came out on top.
Charlie Morton pitched quite well for the Braves. He went six innings, only allowed two hits, and one run. Oh, and he also had NO walks and eight strikeouts. The one run he allowed came on a solo home run by Jonathan Villar in the top of the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Braves looked a little bit more like the offensive team we are used to seeing. After Ozzie Albies grounded out to start the inning, Austin Riley had a double to center field. Dansby Swanson also had a groundout to make the second out of the inning, and then following him, William Contreras was hit by a pitch. Guillermo Heredia had a first pitch single that scored Riley and advanced Contreras to second. Then Charlie Morton got in on the fun and had a first-pitch-single also. He hit it to center field and it scored Contreras. Morton smoked that ball, and it paid off! His single made it a 2-1 Braves lead. Ronald Acuña Jr. walked on a wild pitch, and taking advantage of the wild pitch, Heredia scored making it 3-1 Braves on top.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Braves had the bases loaded with two outs. It was Charlie Morton’s at-bat. Brian Snitker knew how well Morton was pitching, but ultimately made the decision to take Charlie Morton out and go for an offensive approach by brining Pablo Sandoval on to try and bring in more Atlanta runs. Sandoval had a line out, which did not allow the Braves to score any more runs.
I get why Snitker took Charlie Morton out and replaced him with Sandoval, I really do. He knew how well Morton was pitching, but with a close score and the Braves’ bullpen being as unstable as it is, he was looking for more run support. However, that did not happen. But, you can’t put a player back in after you’d already taken him out, so it was what it was.
Coming into the top of the seventh inning, the Braves still had the lead at 3-1. A.J. Minter was up to pitch for the Braves. He started the inning with a quick two outs, but then he got into some trouble. Minter had a two-base throwing error to get Dominic Smith on base. He then gave up a four pitch walk to James McCann, and then Jose Peraza had a RBI double that scored Smith and made it a 3-2 game. That run was unearned because of the error by Minter. As if the Mets hadn’t beaten up on the Braves enough, Tomas Nido had a two RBI single which gave the Mets the lead again at 4-3. It’s so frustrating to see the Braves’ starting pitcher do so well, the offense provide a lead, and then for the bullpen to go and blow it.
Although the bullpen blew a lead again, the Braves did tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. William Contreras had a RBI single that scored Austin Riley and made it a 4-4 game.
Bottom of the ninth inning. Tied ballgame. Aaron Loup was put back in the game to pitch the ninth inning for the Mets (he pitched the eighth inning for the Mets, too).
Ronald Acuña Jr. led off the bottom of the ninth inning for the Braves. On the FIRST PITCH he saw, Acuña hit his first career walk-off home run sending the Braves home with a 5-4 win!
It was so good to see the Braves be able to, first of all, avoid a sweep, but also be able to come back from behind in the late innings, and win the game. Hopefully they can keep that trend up, and the bullpen will figure itself out, soon!