Braves ride the bats of Freeman and Inciarte to 9-7 Victory
In the second game of a four game series with the New York Mets, the Braves sent their veteran knuckleball pitcher, R.A Dickey to the mound to face the Mets 2013 All Star, Matt Harvey with high expectations of snapping a two game losing streak. As the first month of the season comes to an end, many have seen that high scoring games are a lot more common this year than those in the past and this one did not disappoint. After Dickey gave up a walk to the leadoff batter, Michael Conforto, He left a high 81 mph knuckleball that Mets right fielder, Jay Bruce absolutely crushed for a 424 ft home-run to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. Dickey was able to get out of the first inning after a groundout and a strikeout.
The Braves kept their normal rotation intact sending up Ender Inciarte who grounded out to the shortstop to start off his evening. Brandon Phillips was determined to get on base knowing the Braves workhorse, Freddie Freeman, would be at the plate following him. Phillips took a 96 mph fastball and drilled it for a single to right field. Freddie Freeman was now up to bat, bringing a .379 batting average along with him and made Harvey show all his pitches and after a 7 pitch battle, demolished a 90 mph slider, 405 ft to right field to tie the game up at 2-2. Harvey then ended the bottom of the first with a strikeout and groundout.
The top of the second for the Braves was pretty routine other than the walk issued to Jose Reyes to start the inning. Dickey was able to get out of the inning with two ground outs and a line out that brought his pitch count to 44. Harvey on the other hand, had some difficulty keeping runners off the bases by allowing Braves catcher, Kurt Suzuki to get to first on an infield single. After 2 ground outs, Inciarte got ahold of 87 mph four-seam fastball and scored Suzuki with an RBI double making the score 3-2 Braves.
The Braves lead unfortunately didn’t last very long when Mets shortstop, Asdrubal Cabrera, hit a 411 ft home run off a 81 mph knuckleball on a 3-1 count to tie the game at three a piece. Dickey beat himself up but was able to end the inning with a pop out, fly out, and ground out.
The bottom of the third and top of the fourth innings were smooth for both pitchers as they each retired the sides in order with minimal pitches. Harvey starting the bottom of the fourth began to lose control of his fastball by giving up a single, a HBP, and a walk loading the bases with no one out and RA Dickey up to bat. Dickey was able to make contact on a first pitch that hit home plate a bounced high enough for a run to score giving him 5 RBI’s for the season. With Ender up to the plate he continued to make his case for an All Star ballot with a single to right field scoring two more runners and pushing the lead to 6-3.
The fifth and sixth innings became a pitching duel as the scoring stopped and each pitcher began to dissect the lineups allowing only four hits and two walks combined. Due to their high pitch counts, Harvey and Dickey were both removed from the game after the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Braves relief pitcher, Jose Ramirez took the hill and totally shut down the Mets tenth, first, and second batters in just five pitches. Mets relief pitcher, Josh Smoker came out in the bottom of the seventh and was sent packing after giving up a single and a double to Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis after six total pitches! Fernando Salas took over and didn’t preform much better. He gave up a single to Garcia, a walk to Suzuki, and a single to Adams allowing the Braves to build a 9-3 lead to end the seventh.
The Braves bullpen looked solid up until the top of the 9th when Matt Wisler allowed three singles to load the bases with two outs and Mets Jay Bruce up to bat who had previously hit a two-run homer in the top of the first. After two straight balls, Wisler left a 93 mph fastball up and Bruce got all of it for a 392 ft opposite field Grand Slam to cut the lead to 9-7. Braves closer, Jim Johnson relieved Wisler and on a six pitch fight, was able to strike out Neil Walker to end the game. Braves end a two game skid to push their season record to 11-14. The Braves will send pitcher, Bartolo Colon to the mound to take on former teammate, Jacob deGrom in a 7:35pm start EST