Tonight's game was shown in what SNY referred to as an "enhanced broadcast," which meant limited commercial interruptions thanks to the generous purview of Citi. A nice idea, except the enhancements consisted largely of ersatz ads for Citi. The extras that weren't strictly commercial ("This just in: Powersauce is amazing!") tended to go on for way too long, at the expense of broadcasting the game itself.
A telephone call with former Met great Jon Matlack was interesting at least, though it was still distracting from the on-field proceedings. The same could not be said for overlong conversations with Terry Collins and Bobby Abreu, both of whom can presumably speak on camera at any time and don't have to do so over the first two batters of any given inning. The Abreu interview was particularly brutal in length, prompting my daughter to ask, "Why is this guy still talking?"
It reminded me of WPIX's Yankee broadcasts of the 1980s, when Phil Rizzuto would literally spend half a game talking to some random celebrity in the booth about everything but the game (a cringe-y occasion Jackie Mason stopped by the booth springs to mind), while Bill White struggled to convey some idea of what was going on. This is not a good broadcasting model to follow. So in theory, an "enhanced broadcast" is an intriguing idea in theory, but in practice it just seems to translate to "lots of missed at bats."
Oh, the game? Yes, we'll get to that in a moment after we hear from Citi's assistant VP for Something Or Other and Not Kevin Burkhardt interviews Eric Campbell for 27 minutes.
Bartolo Colon had pitched poorly in his previous two outings (10 runs and 15 hits, including three homers). But even before then, the first inning hadn't been in his friend. In his 17 starts before tonight, he'd allowed 16 runs in the initial frame. His struggles continued tonight, beginning with a one-out single by Andrelton Simmons that snuck under the glove of Daniel Murphy. Freddie Freeman (of course) followed by knocking a double into the right field corner to easily score a speedy Simmons. One out later, Jason Heyward dunked a single into shallow left to drive in Freeman.
Colon did manage to strike out two Uptons and a La Stella in the inning, however, and benefited from some Braves brain cramps in the top of the second. Christian Bethancourt and Ramiro Pena singled to start the inning, which looked like the opening to an Atlanta rally until Aaron Harang struck out trying to bunt the runners over while Bethancourt was caught drifting off second base on his K. A B.J. Upton fly out ended the inning with no further trouble.
The portly pitcher got another break of sorts after allowing back-to-back singles again in the third by Simmons and Freeman, while Juan Lagares bobbled Freeman's hit to put runners on the corners. Colon induced a lazy grounder up the middle by Justin Upton that allowed Simmons to score but also went for a double play, putting the kibosh on a potentially big inning.
For his part, Harang continued his curious effectiveness against his former teammates as he kept the Mets off the bases until Juan Lagares hit a two-out double in the bottom of the second. Unfortunately, because Terry Collins chose to bat Colon eighth in the lineup for some reason, Harang was able to walk Ruben Tejada with no consequences, knowing the very next "batter" was no threat. At least Colon did not swing his helmet hilariously off his head while striking out to end the inning.
Some signs of life emerged in the bottom of the third, starting with a single by Eric Young, who then stole second. After a Curtis Granderson K and a Murphy walk, David Wright fought out of a two-strike hole to single to right, driving in Young. Unfortunately, Lucas Duda flew out and Travis d'Arnaud ground out to third to bring the inning to an end. Wirght's RBI would turn out to be the extent of the damage the Mets would inflict on the evening.
Unaware of this eventuality, Colon did his best to keep the game close. The Braves threatened when Tommy La Stella hit a single to start the top of the fourth and Pena hit a one-out single (already the ninth Braves hit of the game) to place runners at first and third. But Harang's attempt to bunt went as well as his first, as he struck out, and B.J. Upton did the same to strand two.
Having thwarted this effort, Colon did himself a favor by setting down the Braves in order for the first time in the fifth, and managed the same feat in the sixth. In the seventh, a two-out B.J. Upton single was rendered harmless. In the eighth, the Braves went down 1-2-3 with some help from instant replay, as Jason Heyward was first called safe, then out, on a play at first where Colon barely beat him to the bag. It's not easy to lose a footrace to Bartolo Colon, but give Heyward credit for trying.
Though Colon had settled into a groove, his teammates remained a rut, as they were retired without incident in the fourth. An attempted two-out rally in the fifth—Murphy single, walks to Wright and Duda to load the bases—was foiled when d'Arnaud flew out to center. They then exited quietly again in the sixth, save for a surprisingly long fly ball from Colon, and did so again in the seventh.
Considering their utter futility against Harang, the Mets were probably thrilled to see Jordan Walden take the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Wright worked a leadoff walk against the reliever, and d'Arnaud belted a one-out single to bring the tying run to the plate. But after Lagares fouled out to first, the Braves decided to leave nothing to chance and brought in Craig Kimbrel for a rare (for him) four-out save. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (pinch-hitting for Tejada) worked the count full but was ultimately no match for the Braves closer and struck out.
Hopes that Kirk's lengthy at bat might tire out Kimbrel did not bear fruit. After Carlos Torres pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, the Mets went down in order yet again against KImbrel. Thus were hopes of a four-game sweep of Atlanta extinguished.
Now please stay tuned for an exciting two-hour one-on-one with a glass panel from the Citicorp building.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: David Wright, 19.6%; Daniel Murphy, 1.6%
Big losers: Juan Lagares, -11.9%; Travis d'Arnaud, -9.4%
Teh aw3s0mest play: David Wright RBI single, 10.2%
Teh sux0rest play: Freddie Freeman RBI double, top first, -12.9%
Total pitcher WPA: -6.8%
Total batter WPA: -43.2%
GWRBI!: Jason Heyward RBI single, top first