With apologies to Brandon Gaudin, the only thing better than watching Larry “Chipper” Jones hit walk-off homers against the Mets may be listening to he and his former teammates celebrate one.
Ozzie Albies strode to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the tenth, hitless in four previous trips. But the Braves’ second baseman dropped the barrel of the bat on a 1-0 cutter from Tommy Hunter and launched it 408 feet into the Chophouse to complete a three-game sweep of the Mets.
The Braves trailed by at least three runs in each game of this series and rallied to win all three games. This was less about the Mets “Metting” and more about the Braves simply being the better team. Top to bottom, the Atlanta nine are better and deeper than the New York nine, and it isn’t particularly close. Turns out $430 million doesn’t buy you what you might think.
That said, nobody had a 13-10 final score in mind before this one began. It would have been more likely that the strikeout totals would have been 13 for Spencer Strider and 10 for Justin Verlander than what happened at Truist Park Thursday night. Strider struck out eight in four innings, and Verlander was done after three innings on this night.
Strider struck out two of the first three hitters he faced to open the game, including Jeff McNeill, which I figured was a good sign. When Austin Riley hit a two-run shot into the right-field stands in the bottom half and the Braves tacked on a third run, I was ready to turn the game off and enjoy the evening with my family. (Who am I kidding? I enjoyed the evening with my family, and they enjoyed watching the game with me – at least parts of it.)
By the middle of the fourth, the Mets had an 8-5 lead, and I wonder if everyone was as confounded as I was. A.J. Smith-Shawver, who Braves Journal editor-in-chief Ryan Cauthron loves to call ASS, is set to make his first MLB start on Friday against the Gnats, but it was Strider and Verlander who were ass on this night.
Thankfully, the Braves’ offense came to play. Trailing 9-5, Marcell Ohzuna homered in the fifth. Eddie Rosario added a run-scoring single in the sixth to cut the lead to 10-7. Former Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit to 10-9.
Our guy Jesse Chavez worked around some ninth inning trouble (that’s right, Jesse is working in late-inning, high-leverage situations at 39 years old) setting the stage for a rally.
OHzuna worked the count full to lead-off the ninth but was called out on a horrendous call by plate umpire Clint Vondrak. Yours truly lost his ever-loving mind (this is the part of the game when my family enjoys watching with me less), and the frustration was compounded when the NL’s starting All-Star shortstop, Orlando Arcia, hammered a 414-foot blast to left field to tie the game. Has anyone been more impressive than Arcia this season?
Raisel Iglesias worked a perfect 10th inning, setting the stage for the offense in the bottom of the frame. Riley, who had squared up everything thrown at him in going 4-for-5, popped out to third. d’Arnaud walked and Rosario flew out to left to bring Albies to the plate. The rest, as they say, is history. Ozzie took ball one, and when Hunter left that 91 mph cutter middle-in, he pounded it…just like the Braves did on so many balls in this game.
There’s nothing better than beating the Mets – even if they are a fourth place team! Their own media outlets concede that this isn’t really a rivalry at the moment, because a rivalry infers that either team can win the game. The Braves are simply better, and their 38-24 is proof, as is this amazing stat.
The Braves stand 3.5 games clear of the second place Marlins, 8 ahead of the Filthies, 8.5 clear of the Mets, and 12.5 ahead of the Gnats, who come to town this evening. Josiah Gray (4-5, 3.09) will square off against Smith-Shover (Smith-Shawver’s other emerging nick-name, 0-0, 0.00) at 7:20 ET/6:20 CT at Truist Park.