With Gary Sheffield out of the lineup, the Mets' typically anemic lineup was now bordering on moribund, with little more than David Wright and Luis Castillo's on-base percentage propping it up. The Braves spotted this dying animal a mile away and proceeded to walk Wright intentionally three times, daring the rest of the Mets' "big leaguers" to step in and make something happen. Well, something sorta happened.
The Mets banged out nine hits and six walks (including Wright's three) and, despite going just 3-for-14 with men in scoring position, they managed to coax five runs across the plate. Mind you, three of the runs scored on a bases-loaded walk, a groundout and a suicide squeeze, but five runs is still about a week's worth for these guys so they'll take whatever they can get. The other two runs were knocked in on actual base hits: a triple by Angel Pagan and a single by Jeff Francoeur, both providing insurance runs in the ninth inning.
On the hill, Johan Santana was very good. Not quite normal Johan Santana, but superman compared to what the Mets have been getting lately. He allowed just five hits and two walks in seven innings, striking out five and keeping the Braves off the scoreboard. His overall strike rate (65.2%) was great, though his swinging strike rate (7.0%) was well below his season mark (11.7%) and just half of his 2007 rate (13.9%). It's not worth getting bent out of shape about one game, but over his last nine starts Santana has struck out as many batters (or more) as innings pitched once, and that was when he allowed nine runs in three innings against the Yankees on 6/14.
Santana's effort was almost entirely wasted by the bullpen, as Pedro Feliciano, Sean Green and Pat Misch conspired to allow three hits and two walks while retiring just two batters in the eighth inning -- one on a caught-stealing. One run had scored on Chipper Jones's leadoff homerun (off Feliciano), and the bases were full of Braves when Brian Stokes relieved Misch and struck out pinch hitter Greg Norton to end the inning.
The Phillies' game was postponed so the Mets pick up a half-game in the standings and now sit a mere eight games out of first place. Fernando Nieve (really?) takes on Javier Vazquez in the series finale Sunday at 6pm.
Big winners: Johan Santana, +44.7% WPA, Brian Stokes, +19.9% WPA
Big losers: Pat Misch, -12.9% WPA, Daniel Murphy, -10.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Stokes strikeout of Norton in eighth, +19.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Larry homerun in eighth, -14.3% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +47.0% WPA
Total batter WPA: +3.0% WPA
GWRBI!: Omir Santos
Nice job by AnthonyR; his effort in the game thread embiggens us all.
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