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Mets vs. Braves Recap: Offense comes alive late, but Valverde surrenders another critical home run

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After starting as a solid pitching battle, this game turned into a wild slugfest for the final two innings.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, what just happened? The Mets were supposed to go down quietly against the Braves' bullpen and lose this game 4-1. Bartolo Colon and Ervin Santana both pitched very well through seven innings, with the only difference coming in the top of the third when Colon threw the ball away after allowing an infield single off of Freddie Freeman's foot. The miscue allowed for a pair of runs to score, and it looked like two important runs at the moment.

If only fair/foul calls were able to be challenged under MLB's new replay rules, then maybe the Mets could have prevented a couple of runs and seen the game turn out differently. After all, the SNY replays clearly showed that Freeman hit a Colon pitch off of his own foot before it rolled into fair territory. That was right before Colon tossed the ball down the right field line in his attempt to get an out at first base.

Rules are rules, though, and the play could have certainly broke in New York's favor had it been fielding a pitcher with a little more defensive skill. The Mets ended up scoring more than enough runs to win anyway. Or, rather, they would have if the bullpen had not been so dreadful.

Daisuke Matsuzaka allowed a run to score on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth to make the score 4-1 Braves. It seemed like a dagger at the time, as the Mets had just finished being thrashed by Santana for seven innings. Atlanta's starter continued his brilliant start to the season with seven strikeouts and two walks with one run allowed. New York scored in the first inning when Eric Young Jr. drew a leadoff walk and came home on a David Wright single, but the Mets wouldn't be heard from again until the going got tough.

Anyway, it seemed like the game was over heading into the bottom of the eighth, but the Mets pounced on Braves reliever David Carpenter. Daniel Murphy lined a single over second base and Wright lobbed a blooper down the right field line to start the rally. Curtis Granderson -- who seemed to give the Braves an out whenever they needed one in this game -- popped out, but Chris Young continued to move things along by smacking a ground ball into left field for an RBI single.

With the score now 4-2, Lucas Duda narrowly missed a home run that would have given the Mets the lead. His long fly ball was caught on the right field warning track by Jason Heyward, but Travis d'Arnaud followed with an RBI single to draw New York within a run. Carpenter finally got Ruben Tejada to ground out to end the inning, but there was hope in the air in Queens.

"What better way to extinguish that hope than to bring Jose Valverde into the game?" At least that's what I imagine Terry Collins' reasoning must have been for his choice of pitcher in the top of the ninth. The veteran closer had surrendered three home runs in his last two appearances and could have used a couple of garbage-time outings to reestablish himself, but Collins opted to tempt fate.

The impending disaster could have been avoided if Valverde was able to field a Jordan Schafer leadoff bunt attempt, but the ball rolled through the big man's legs. Pitcher defense was apparently the Mets' hubris today, as two outs and an intentional walk later, Justin Upton clubbed a home run to right-center that put the game on ice at 7-3.

Not so fast, though! The Mets were about to mount an improbable rally against Altanta's ace closer Craig Kimbrel! Omar Quintanilla led off with a ground out, but then Eric Young Jr. got hit with a pitch and both Murphy and Wright reached on base hits.

With the tying run at the plate, Granderson made another crucial out by swinging and missing at a wicked Kimbrel slider. Chris Young, though, got the Mets back on track with an RBI single to center field before stealing second base to put the tying run in scoring position. Duda drew a tough walk after falling behind 0-2, and that was it for Kimbrel. Fredi Gonzalez lifted his closer in favor of Jordan Walden, and the move paid off immediately. Walden got d'Arnaud to ground out to shortstop, and Andrelton Simmons ended the game with authority by throwing out New York's catcher from the edge of the left field grass.

Saturday's loss was a tough one to swallow considering how close the Mets came to a miracle comeback, but they'll be right back at it with the finale versus the Braves scheduled for 1:10 p.m. on Sunday. Bartolo Colon had a very nice outing, especially considering that he got shelled during his recent start in Anaheim. This time he allowed just three runs in seven innings with six strikeouts, one walk, and zero home runs allowed. On Sunday morning, Zack Wheeler will take the hill against Braves rookie David Hale.

SB Nation GameThreads

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* Talking Chop GameThread

Win Probability Added

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Big winners: David Wright +19.6%, Chris Young +16.9%
Big losers: Curtis Granderson -24.1%, Jose Valverde -12.6%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Travis d'Arnaud hits an RBI single in the eighth, +14.0%
Teh sux0rest play: Two Atlanta runs score on Colon's error, -24.4%
Total pitcher WPA: -29.8%
Total batter WPA: -20.2%
GWRBI!: Justin Upton with his three-run home run in the ninth inning.