Saturday, September 29, 2012
Braves 2, Mets 0
ATLANTA -- David Wright knows the damage could've been worse.
Getting hit in the groin on a pitch from Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is bad enough, but at least it was an 88 mph slider. Two pitches earlier, Kimbrel's fastball touched 100 mph on the radar gun.
"I'm lucky that he hit me with a slider," Wright said with a smile. "A fastball would've been a different story, obviously."
Wright's ground-rule double in the seventh inning was the only extra-base hit mustered by the New York Mets in a 2-0 loss to Mike Minor and the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
Minor pitched 6 1-3 sharp innings to win his fifth straight decision, and Martin Prado and Jason Heyward each had an RBI for Atlanta, which remained four games behind Washington in the National League East with four games to play.
Chipper Jones, who played his next-to-last regular-season game at Turner Field, was hitless in four at-bats.
Kimbrel earned his 41st save of in 44 chances with a scoreless but shaky ninth.
In the ninth, leadoff batter Ruben Tejada reached against Kimbrel on second baseman Dan Uggla's fielding error and advanced to second on a wild pitch before pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy flew out.
Kimbrel, one of the majors' hardest throwers, hit Wright in the groin area. The ball ricocheted off Wright and hit home-plate umpire Paul Nauert in the mask. Trainers had to tend to Wright and Nauert, who both stayed in the game.
"Now I know what those catchers have to go through on a regular basis," Wright said after going 1 for 3. "I've got a little more respect for them now."
Kimbrel settled down to strike out pinch-hitter Ike Davis and Lucas Duda to end it.
Minor (11-10) allowed three hits, no walks and struck out four, leaving after Wright's double in the seventh.
Chad Durbin got the second out of the inning on Scott Hairston's flyout. Luis Avilan balked on his first pitch to Duda, advancing Wright to third, before Duda struck out.
Prado leads the NL and ranks second in the majors with 60 multi-hit games.
Atlanta went ahead 1-0 in the first when Prado hit a one-out double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Heyward's RBI groundout.
In the third, Andrelton Simmons lined a leadoff single to left, moved to second on Minor's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Prado's two-out RBI double off the wall in left-center.
Minor, who allowed just two singles through six innings, improved to 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA over his last four starts, a span of 31 innings. The left-hander is 5-0 in his last seven starts.
"Tonight was a good team win because we had a lot of guys come out of the bullpen, Martin had a couple big hits, we played some defense," Minor said. "We got the win tonight and also I'm not even anymore. I've got a winning record."
In six career starts against the Mets, Minor is 3-1 and with a 6.03 ERA over 31 1-3 innings.
Chris Young (4-9) gave up seven hits, two runs and one walk with six strikeouts in six innings. The Mets have scored just four runs in his last four starts.
"In his last two starts, his velocity climbed," New York manager Terry Collins said. "It was up 3 to 4 mph, which I was very impressed with. He gets himself ready to pitch as well as anyone I've been around. Makes mistakes once and while but for the most part, he executes his pitches."
Young, who signed a minor league contract with the Mets in March and returned to New York's rotation on June 5, overcame major shoulder surgery to re-establish his career. The 6-foot-10 right-hander made 20 starts to finish the season with a 4.15 ERA, striking out 80 in 115 innings.
"When I decided to have the surgery and rehab, I knew it would be a long process," Young said. "I knew there would be some bumps in the road, but I knew if I dedicated myself to it, that I could be back and become a competitive and successful major league pitcher."
Jonny Venters allowed two singles in a scoreless eighth for Atlanta.
Elvin Ramirez pitched a scoreless seventh and Ramon Ramirez did the same in the eighth for New York, which has 85 losses, the same number as last season.
Kimbrel lowered his ERA to 1.02 and has 113 strikeouts in 61 1-3 innings.
"That quality of arm, you won't see many like that, and that arm angle he throws from is very, very deceptive," Collins said. "It's very hard to pick up. He throws both of his pitches for strikes. And when it's (letters high), there's not many guys that can get on top of that pitch. There's no doubt he's one of the best in the league."
Collins said before the game that Wright would be rested and held out of the lineup on Sunday.
Jones has gone hitless with three walks in his last 13 at-bats. ... Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Braves will have three starting pitchers (RHP Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson and either LHPs Minor or Paul Maholm) with seven relievers and three catchers on the 25-man roster if they host a wild-card game. ... SS Simmons ran into center field to make a diving catch to rob Wright of a single in the fourth. ... Braves CF Michael Bourn missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left thumb. ... Atlanta will try to win Medlen's 23rd straight start on Sunday. Medlen (9-1) will pitch opposite RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1). ... Prado's double was his 41st, fifth-most in the NL. ... Avilan has allowed just four earned runs over his last 25 appearances.