New York Mets: Anthony Varvaro

Rapid Reaction: Braves 5, Mets 5

May, 24, 2013
On a soggy Fireworks Night at Citi Field, the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves never got that far.

The game was suspended with the score tied at five entering the ninth inning. It will resume at 6:10 p.m. Saturday, followed by the regularly scheduled game. The fireworks will be shot at the end of Saturday’s baseball.

Rookie phenom Evan Gattis delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit two-run single in the eighth against Greg Burke that plated two runs charged to Scott Rice, giving Atlanta a 5-3 lead.

A half-inning later, Daniel Murphy had an RBI single to pull the Mets within a run. A wild pitch by Anthony Varvaro in a driving rain with Rick Ankiel batting then evened the score at five.

Gattis, whose last visit to New York was when he was out of baseball and penniless and hungry, now has five go-ahead or game-tying hits in the eighth inning or later this season. That is tied with Brandon Belt for the most in the majors, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Golden Sombrero: Ike Davis struck out in all four of his at-bats, dropping him to one for his last 42. It was the third time this season he has had a four-strikeout game. That matches the franchise record for most games in a season with four or more strikeouts, joining Cliff Floyd (2004), Jerry Koosman (1970) and Ron Swoboda (1969).

When Davis fouled off a 1-2 pitch in his fourth at-bat, the Citi Field crowd offered a mock cheer.

Wilmer Flores, incidentally, is starting at first base tonight for only the second time this season with Triple-A Las Vegas.

Forever young? Jeremy Hefner pitched well enough to win, but LaTroy Hawkins, who replaced him to begin the seventh, surrendered a leadoff homer to Dan Uggla that evened the score at three.

Hefner remained 0-5 with the hard-luck no-decision.

He allowed two earned runs on three hits and two walks while striking out seven in a 94-pitch effort spanning six innings.

After giving up a two-run homer in the first inning to Freddie Freeman, Hefner kept the Braves’ bats silent the next five frames, retiring 16 of the final 18 batters he faced.

Young men: The Upton brothers had some costly miscues in the field.

Justin Upton had a pair of misplays in left field, contributing to two Mets runs. In the first, he misread and had Lucas Duda’s liner drop in front of him for an RBI single that pulled the Mets within 2-1. In the fifth, he again misread a shot -- this time from Murphy -- which landed over his head for a double. Murphy eventually scored on Marlon Byrd’s single as the Mets took a 3-2 lead.

B.J. Upton’s error in center in the eighth also proved costly. On Murphy’s single that pulled the Mets within 5-4, the center fielder misplayed the ball on the slick turf and was charged with an error that allowed Ruben Tejada to advance to third. That put Tejada in position to score the tying run on the wild pitch.

Buck shot: John Buck’s 11th homer of the season, a solo shot in the fourth against Kris Medlen, evened the score at two. It was Buck’s first long ball since May 3, at Atlanta against Mike Minor.

What's next: Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.04 ERA) opposes left-hander Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78 ERA) in Saturday’s regularly scheduled game.

Braves 2, Mets 1: Opener looms for Niese

March, 17, 2013
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Jordany Valdespin homered and reached base in all three of his plate appearances and Jonathon Niese allowed only a solo homer to Chris Johnson in five innings, but the Mets were three-hit by Julio Teheran and three relievers in a 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday at Tradition Field.

Game tidbits:

NIESELY DONE: Terry Collins is not ready to formally name Niese the Opening Day starter out of respect for Johan Santana. But Santana now has not been on a mound in 11 days. And it’s clear he is opening the season on the DL, with Niese facing the San Diego Padres on April 1.

Adam Rubin
Regis Philbin is escorted off the field after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

“There’s a strong possibility that’s going to happen,” Collins allowed.

Said Niese: “I guess it’s leaning toward I am getting Opening Day. I haven’t been told officially yet.”

On Sunday, Niese did require 82 pitches (59 strikes) to navigate five innings, but he allowed only three baserunners -- two hits by Johnson and a second-inning walk to Ramiro Pena.

“They made me throw a lot of pitches. They fouled a lot off,” Niese said. “I’ve just got to work on put-away pitches. Overall, it felt good.”

Johnson is 2-for-6 with a double and RBI lifetime against Niese in the regular season.

“[Catcher] Landon [Powell] and I said we wouldn’t have done that during the regular season,” Niese said about Johnson’s two-out homer in the fourth. “I got two quick outs. I should have been pounding the zone there. I was kind of nibbling with my changeup, trying to work on it. And then I fell behind obviously. He has a history of hitting me well. He’s a guy that I can’t fall behind or else he’ll make me pay for a mistake.”

O NO: Other than Valdespin’s homer and single, the Mets mustered only one other hit against Teheran -- on a first-inning double by Ike Davis. Relievers Luis Avilan, Dusty Hughes and Anthony Varvaro combined to toss three no-hit innings. Varvaro, who made 12 relief appearances for the Braves last season, hails from Staten Island and is a St. John’s product.

CLOSE CALL: After Robert Carson allowed consecutive one-out singles in the ninth, in his second inning of work, Bobby Parnell entered. Parnell immediately got Evan Gattis to ground into an inning-ending double play.

LEFT OUT? The Braves took the decisive 2-1 lead in the sixth against left-hander Scott Rice. Jordan Schafer had a leadoff bunt single and stole second. He scored when lefty-hitting Freddie Freeman singled to right field.

The Mets will weigh carrying Carson or Rice as a second left-hander alongside Josh Edgin if Pedro Feliciano does not make the club. But a team insider suggested it may be more likely the Mets just carry Edgin if Feliciano doesn’t make it and use righty pitchers to get lefties out. That way, Jeurys Familia and submariner Greg Burke -- both 40-man roster members -- would fit in the bullpen, too.

Feliciano entered in the seventh inning and surrendered a single to lefty-hitting Juan Francisco on an 82 mph fastball before retiring the lefty-hitting Schafer on a groundout on a pitch that registered 84 mph.

REGIS AND TERRY: Entertainer Regis Philbin, 81, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and sat in the dugout alongside Collins.

“He’s funny. I know that,” Collins said. “The first inning, when we got all those hits, he says [it was] because Regis is here. I said, ‘That’s probably it. I’ll have a uniform ready on Opening Day.’”

Braves 9, Mets 4: Baxter case; DJ DL?

March, 23, 2012
Mike Baxter continued his solid Grapefruit League production Friday and is making a strong case that he should be selected over Adam Loewen for the lefty-hitting backup outfield role.

Baxter, who started in center field against the Atlanta Braves, went 2-for-2 with a walk and drove in two runs with a game-tying single in the fifth to lift his spring average to .343 (12-for-35).

Miguel Batista surrendered four runs in two innings -- including a two-run homer by Dan Uggla -- in relief of Jon Niese, however, and the Mets lost the Braves, 9-4, at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Loewen is hitting .242 with 17 strikeouts in 33 at-bats during Grapefruit League play.

“From the start I’ve just been trying to prepare for the season, regardless of the spot I’m trying to win,” Baxter said. “I’m having good at-bats, working with Hudgy [hitting coach Dave Hudgens] trying to take the ball back up the middle of the field and get your timing down. Over the last couple of weeks I feel like it’s starting to come together. I still think there’s a little bit to go, though, in terms of just getting through balls and things -- extending and stuff. But so far, so good.”

Baxter, 27, was a July 22 waiver claim last season from the San Diego Padres. A product of Archbishop Molloy in Queens, he made his Mets debut Aug. 8 and primarily saw action in right field the remainder of the season. After being removed from the 40-man roster during the offseason, Baxter decided to remain with the organization.

When he joined the Mets last summer, Baxter told Terry Collins center field was not a comfortable position. But the Mets desperately need their backup outfielders to show an aptitude in center field, at least while Andres Torres (calf) and Scott Hairston (oblique) are on the mend. Baxter has now started to get exposure to the position, including Friday’s start. He has logged 43 minor league games in center, including twice last season during an interlude at Triple-A Buffalo before his major league promotion.

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Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187