Even before tonight's game, there was reason to worry about the Mets' starting rotation heading into the second half. Dillon Gee is likely out for the season. Jon Niese has a history of fading after the All-Star break. Johan Santana has pitched 102.2 innings with a surgically repaired shoulder. And Chris Young is as good a bet to get injured as any player in MLB. Young's performance tonight did nothing to assuage that worry, as he gave up five runs in just three innings of work with underwhelming stuff.
Young issued three walks in the first inning, which unsurprisingly led to two Braves runs. Control has been the main reason for his success this season, so if it eludes him he's in trouble. He came back after a 16-minute delay due to a power outage at Turner Field to have a better second inning. He struck out Michael Bourn and induced Martin Prado to hit into a double play. However, Young was smacked around in the third. Chipper Jones doubled, Freddie Freeman singled, and David Ross cracked a no-doubter three-run home run into the left field seats to give the Braves a 5-0 lead. Young hit the showers when Jordany Valdespin pinch-hit for him in the fourth inning.
Braves starter Tim Hudson also failed to impress. He gave up four runs, all in the fourth inning, on an RBI double by Scott Hairston, a two-run single by Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and an RBI single by Ruben Tejada. This made the score 5-4 Braves. The Mets chased Hudson in the fifth inning when David Wright led off with a single and Ike Davis walked. Cristhian Martinez came in and walked Lucas Duda, but wriggled out of the bases-loaded, no-outs situation by striking out Hairston and Nieuwenhuis and getting Josh Thole to fly out. This was the Mets' best chance to take control of the game, especially with the big guns still looming in the Braves' bullpen.
The Mets' bullpen struggled for the most part. Miguel Batista walked four in his 1.1 innings of work. Again, what is the point of Miguel Batista? Josh Edgin came on to make his major-league debut after Batista walked the bases loaded in the fifth and struck out two lefties to end the inning. He quietly pumped his fist, savoring what is likely one of the proudest moments of his life. Good for him. Edgin allowed two runs in the next inning, one of which came on a Chipper solo home run. Ramon Ramirez, Tim Byrdak, and Pedro Beato combined to walk four in the final 2.1 innings. All told, Mets pitchers walked 11 and surrendered 10 hits. Yuck.
The Mets added a run in the eighth inning when Ronny Cedeno doubled and Andres Torres drove him in with a single. Craig Kimbrel entered in the ninth inning to close it out, striking out three Mets around a Davis single.
The Mets drop to 46-41 after losing the second half opener. They are 5.5 games behind the first place Nationals and 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card. R.A. Dickey will try to play stopper in game two of the series at 4:05 p.m. on Saturday. Tommy Hanson goes for the Braves.
SB Nation Coverage
* Traditional Recap
* Box Score
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Talking Chop Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Ruben Tejada +6.6%, David Wright +5.2%
Big losers: Chris Young -30.7% (as pitcher), Daniel Murphy -12.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lucas Duda walk in the fifth inning +11.6%
Teh sux0rest play: David Ross three-run home run in the third inning -15.4%
Total pitcher WPA: -36.5%
Total batter WPA: -13.5%
GWRBI!: Chipper Jones