It would have been hard for either team to top the excitement of Super Tuesday, when Matt Harvey dominated and Zack Wheeler impressed in his debut. So rather than try, the Mets and Braves decided to see who could completely screw up the most and yet still come out on top. Since this game took place in Atlanta, you can probably guess how that went down.
Kris Medlen had little trouble with the Mets' lineup in the early going. Opposing pitchers rarely do, granted, but Medlen barely broke a sweat in the first few innings. He allowed a leadoff single to brand new Met Eric Young Jr. on the second pitch of the game, but erased him on an inning-ending double play from David Wright. He then proceeded to retire the Mets in order in the second, third, and fourth, all but yawning and checking his watch as he did so.
For much of the same span, Shaun Marcum (still seeking his first win of the year) pitched to the same effect if not with quite the same dominance. Marcum gave up a few hard-hit line drives in the first two innings, but they all found gloves, and two-out walks in each frame did no harm, either. A two-out single by Andrelton Simmons in the third also went by the wayside when Marcum struck out Monday night's hero, Freddie Freeman.
In the bottom of the fourth, Marcum registered the first two outs, thanks in part to a great diving stop by Omar Quintanilla on a screamer up the middle from Brian McCann. But he ceded a pair of two-out singles to B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. This would prove especially painful once Marcum hung a cutter to Chris Johnson. Chipper Jones' successor at third base made like Chipper and punished the Mets, belting Marcum's pitch just over the wall in left center to hand the Braves a 3-0 lead.
A three-run deficit would be difficult for this Mets lineup to overcome under any circumstances, but especially so at Turner Field. Prior to this game, the Braves were 16-0 when scoring first at home. And yet, the Mets responded immediately in the top of the fifth, with a healthy amount of assistance from the home team.
Marlon Byrd got things started with a leadoff single, then Lucas Duda was hit by pitch. The next batter, John Buck, hit a comebacker right to Medlen, one that could have and should have resulted in an easy double play. But Medlen, perhaps thinking he could get a triple play with the slow-footed Buck running to first, tossed the ball to third base instead of getting a sure out at second, and his throw zipped past the bag. In his effort to catch the errant throw, Johnson interfered with Byrd, which meant that the runner would have been awarded home regardless. However, the throw was so wild it allowed Duda to score all the way from first and Buck to move up to second. Kirk Nieuwenhuis then dunked a single into shallow right field that allowed Buck to race home with the tying run.
It was a rare bout of good luck for the Amazins at Turner Field, and it would not last, as the Braves responded promptly to the Mets' response. Jordan Schaefer led off the top of the fifth with a double to right. After a sac bunt moved Schaefer to third, Marcum all but intentionally walked Freddie Freeman. He managed to strike out Justin Upton looking, but while pitching to Brian McCann, one of his offerings glanced off of Buck's glove and dribbled far enough away for Schaefer to dash home with the go-ahead run. Schaefer's dash home was aided by the ginormous lead he was able to take thanks to the infield playing the shift against McCann.
After a walk to McCann, Marcum faced the struggling B.J. Upton and ceded an RBI double, Upton's first hit all season with two outs and a man in scoring position. That milestone put the Braves up 5-3 and was enough to end Marcum's night on the mound. Carlos Torres came in and struck out Uggla to end the inning, then pitched impressive scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh. He's only made two appearances since being called up, but Torres looks he might have some good stuff in his arsenal, so I look forward to him being run into the ground by Terry Collins in the weeks to come.
Re-gifted a lead, Medlen returned to his dominant ways. He worked around a ground-rule double that David Wright hit over Schaefer's head in right field with two outs in the top of the sixth, fanning Byrd to end the threat. In the seventh, a leadoff single by Duda also went for nought.
Medlen's night came to an end in the top of the eighth, when pinch hitter Josh Satin dunked a single into no man's land in center field. If hits received assists, one would have been given to B.J. Upton, who took a lackadaisical route to the ball. (This in turn allowed Gary Cohen to once again grip about Upton's work ethic, which he seemingly loves to do.) If the Mets were going to score some runs, the pre-Kimbrel portion of the game would have been a good time to do it. Alas, reliever Luis Avilan induced a GIDP from Young (who spent the first part of his at bat trying to bunt, for reasons I can only imagine), then retired Daniel Murphy to end the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, David Aardsma and Scott Rice gave up a single and a walk respectively, but combined for a scoreless frame, for all the good it did, since the top of the ninth brought on Craig Kimbrel. The last time the Mets saw Kimbrel, David Wright took him deep for a two-out game-tying bomb, and the team went on to win in extras. No such heroics this time, as Wright and Byrd struck out and Duda flew out to end the game.
Tomorrow, the rare rubber match in a five-game series, with Jon Niese opposing Mike Minor. And regardless of who wins, at the game's conclusion, the Mets will play only three more times at Turner Field the rest of the season. On non-Super Tuesdays, take the good news where you can.
SB Nation Coverage
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Talking Chop Gamethread
Win Probability Added
Big winners: John Buck, +12.4%, Josh Satin, +6.6%
Big losers: Shaun Marcum, -40.9%, Omar Quintanilla, -14.7%
Teh aw3s0mest play: two-run throwing error by Kris Medlen, top fifth, +18.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Chris Johnson three-run homer, bottom fourth, -30.4%
Total pitcher WPA: -18.6%
Total batter WPA: -31.4%
GWRBI!: none [scored on wild pitch]