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Mets vs. Braves Recap: Atlanta dices Daisuke, bullpen also implodes

Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up six runs early, and the Mets' bullpen assured that any comeback attempt by the lineup would be futile.

Kevin C. Cox

Did you miss the Mets game this afternoon? I hope so. Daisuke Matsuzaka made his third start for the team, and it went just about as poorly as the previous two. In three slow-as-molasses innings, Daisuke allowed six runs and threw 72 pitches. He struck out three, walked two, and gave up seven hits before he was removed from the game. He’ll remain in the Mets’ rotation, though, at least for now.

Freddie Freeman plated the first two runs of the afternoon on a double in the bottom of the first inning. Matsuzaka actually drove in a run in the top of the second to cut the Braves’ early lead in half, but he went back out and gave up four more runs in the bottom of that inning. Jordan Schafer drove in the Braves’ third run with a single, and Freeman later hit a three-run bomb to put the Braves ahead 6-1.

To their credit, the Mets’ lineup didn’t mail it in from there. With runners on first and second in the fourth inning, Zach Lutz pinch hit for Matsuzaka and drove in a run on a long double that was just barely short of clearing the fence in center field. A Daniel Murphy sacrifice fly scored the Mets’ third run, but the inning ended with the score still 6-3.

That was as close as the Mets would get to tying the miserable afternoon game, which was, of course, played very shortly after the Mets’ Sunday night game in Washington. That’s not an excuse for the loss, as the odds of winning with Matsuzaka on the mound were pretty slim no matter when the team played yesterday.

Tim Byrdak made his return from shoulder surgery to begin the bottom of the fourth. He went one-and-one-third innings and retired four of the five batters he faced, a welcome sight for a player whose career was certainly in jeopardy just shy of a year ago. He wasn’t throwing as hard as he used to, which is hardly surprising, but perhaps he can be effective as a lefty specialist without his former stuff.

The post-Byrdak part of the game was even uglier than the pre-Byrdak part. Gonzalez Germen took over for Byrdak in the fifth and quickly surrendered two runs. Just three appearances ago, he had a 2.82 ERA, but he’s now at a 4.44 ERA for the season. Pedro Feliciano wasn’t any better in the sixth, as he gave up a pair of runs while recording just two outs. The highlight of those two innings was Vic Black’s debut with the Mets with two outs and the bases loaded with Feliciano’s baserunners. Black threw two pitches at 97 miles per hour, the second of which resulted in an inning-ending pop fly.

The Mets scored twice in the seventh inning, first on a Lucas Duda single and then on an error by Andrelton Simmons. But they weren’t able to bring any more runs home in the inning, effectively ending their last desperate attempt at a comeback.

David Aardsma pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh, but he came back out for the eighth and was charged with three runs. He has really struggled lately, and today’s outing put the Mets behind 13-5, which turned out to be the final score.

SB Nation Coverage

* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Talking Chop Gamethread

Win Probability Added

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Big winners: Daisuke Matsuzaka, +10.6% WPA (hitting)
Big losers: Daisuke Matsuzaka, -41.0% WPA (pitching)
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daisuke’s rib-eye single, +10.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Freeman’s three-run home run, -16.7% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -47.2% WPA
Total batter WPA: -2.8% WPA
GWRBI!: Freddie Freeman