I'll get this out of the way right up front: The Braves are going to the postseason, at least for one game, and the Mets are not. But the way in which the Mets defeated their rivals in Atlanta on Friday night was as exciting and enjoyable as it gets in the final week of a soon-to-be-over regular season.
Jon Niese was finished his best season as a professional pitcher with seven very good innings against a Braves lineup that was still mathematically in the hunt for the division title when the game began. While he didn't have his best strikeout stuff, Niese allowed just four hits — which helped diminish the effect of the three walks he issued — and one run in the start. As a result, he finishes the year with a 3.40 ERA.
The Mets' lineup didn't do much of anything against Tim Hudson for the first six innings, but Daniel Murphy got things started with a leadoff double in the seventh. David Wright lined out to right, Murphy tagged up and went to third, and the Braves opted to intentionally walk Ike Davis. Hudson struck out Scott Hairston, but up to the plate stepped Lucas Duda. The Dude worked one hell of an at-bat, and on the ninth pitch he saw, he launched a three-run home run to give the Mets the lead.
Niese finished his start with a scoreless bottom of the seventh. Manny Acosta and Justin Hampson combined for a perfect eighth inning, and Bobby Parnell pitched a perfect ninth. While it took nearly the entire season for Terry Collins to anoint Parnell the team's closer, he should at the very least get a shot at the gig in spring training, assuming both he and Frank Francisco are still on the team.
At the beginning of the game, it felt like the Mets wouldn't even come close to living up to their incredible victory at Citi Field on Thursday afternoon. Chipper Jones's big ceremony was held before the game, and it wouldn't have been any surprise if Larry launched a home run or two en route to a victory over the hapless Mets. But Jones went 0-for-4, and Lucas Duda had the biggest hit of the night.
Big winners: Lucas Duda, +52.5% WPA, Jon Niese, +18.3% WPA
Big losers: David Wright, -11.0% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: The Dude's home run, +53.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Freddie Freeman's solo home run in the fourth, -15.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +32.74% WPA
Total batter WPA: +17.3% WPA
GWRBI!: Lucas Duda