Monday, June 30, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Mets 3
By Adam Rubin
ATLANTA -- Jeurys Familia had been nearly automatic of late as the primary setup man to Jenrry Mejia, tossing nine straight scoreless innings and posting a 0.71 ERA since May 25.
Even the best have hiccups.
Entrusted with a two-run lead, Familia committed one of the Mets’ three costly errors in a four-run eighth as the Atlanta Braves rallied for a 5-3 win Monday at Turner Field.
The Mets (37-46) fell a season-high eight games behind the division-leading Braves and are at nine games under .500, matching their low-water mark for the season.
The Mets fell to 33-5 when ahead after seven innings.
Leading 3-1, Familia surrendered inning-opening singles to Justin Upton and Jason Heyward. He then coaxed a would-be double-play comebacker from Chris Johnson. However, Familia bounced the throw to Ruben Tejada covering second base and everyone was safe.
With the bases loaded and none out, Jersey native Tommy La Stella then sent a run-scoring single up the middle. A second run scored on the play, tying the score at 3, when center fielder Juan Lagares could not cleanly field the ball, for a costly E-8.
Later, with the bases loaded and two outs, Andrelton Simmons sent a routine chopper to third baseman Eric Campbell. The ball popped out of Campbell’s glove and his ensuing throw to first base was late, allowing the Braves to take the lead.
Dana Eveland subsequently entered and issued a bases-loaded walk to force in another run.
The Mets entered the day with 15 double-play misplays and errors, tied with the San Diego Padres for the most in the major leagues, according to ESPN Stats & Information’s Mark Simon.
Wild thing: Zack Wheeler issued five walks and hit a batter, but managed to limit the Braves to one run in 6 1/3 innings and stood in position for the win until the eighth-inning meltdown.
Wheeler had tossed 83 pitches through four innings and looked headed for a short outing.
He then got a double play in a nine-pitch fifth and began to get more efficient.
With Wheeler coming off a career-low two-inning outing against Oakland in which he tossed only 48 pitches, and with him due to get an extra day of rest before pitching again Sunday, Terry Collins extended the right-hander.
With the Mets holing a 3-1 lead, Wheeler returned to the mound for the seventh inning with his pitch count already at 104. Wheeler surrendered a leadoff single to Christian Bethancourt, then pinch hitter Jordan Schafer sent a deep shot to left field that Chris Young ran down.
At that point, Wheeler departed -- and things got interesting.
Vic Black got B.J. Upton to ground into a potential inning-ending double play, but Tejada could not handle the grounder, which was generously scored an infield single. With two on and one out, Black coaxed Simmons to fly out.
Collins then returned to insert Josh Edgin to face the dangerous Freddie Freeman.
Edgin is now 21-for-21 this season in retiring the first batter he faces. Freeman flied out to left field as the Braves stranded two baserunners and the Mets maintained a two-run lead.
Wheeler’s final line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP. He threw 113 pitches.
Leading man: Curtis Granderson, again in the leadoff spot after a cameo Sunday at cleanup, produced a game-opening homer against left-hander Alex Wood. The shot snapped an 0-for-17 drought by Granderson, albeit which included three shots to the outfield wall in Pittsburgh.
Granderson also had a leadoff homer June 15 at Citi Field against San Diego Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy. Monday’s shot marked his 26th career leadoff homer.
Catching on: Travis d'Arnaud continues to produce since returning from Vegas. Now able to reach pitches on the outer half of the plate because of his adjusted stance, d’Arnaud produced an RBI double in the second inning. He finished 1-for-4 and has hit safely in all six games since rejoining the Mets. D’Arnaud is hitting .348 (8-for-23) with one homer and four RBIs during that span.
Three cheers: The Mets entered the series batting .164 with the bases loaded this season. That figure remained intact Monday, but the Mets did pick up an RBI in such a situation. C.Y.’s third-inning sacrifice fly against Wood with the bases loaded increased the Mets’ lead to 3-0.
What’s next: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-2, 3.23 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (2-5, 4.50) at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.