Braves 10, Mets 8
On a night when an injury to the Mets' scheduled starter forced a reliever into the game from the opening pitch, you might think that it was the pitching that did the team in. But in fact it was the Mets' vaunted defense that let the team down as the Mets got a decent nine innings of pitching out of the 'pen to go along with another offensive assault.
NRI-turned-fifth-starter-turned-third-stater Scott Erickson
was scheduled to pitch for the Mets, but some last minute hamstring trouble ended his night before it had started. Dan Wheeler
somehow got the job in his stead despite having pitched and inning and a third the night before and got off to a good start. The offense got him the lead in the second when Ty Wigginton
hit a two run home run. The Braves tied it up in the fourth, but four innings of two run ball from an emergency starter who had pitched just a day earlier was pretty good. Then Wheeler led off the top of the fifth inning and reached on an error. I thought, even with a depleted bullpen, that four innings was plenty from Wheeler, but I won't try to understand Art Howe's pithcer usage decisions.
Regardless of how much Wheeler had left in the tank, he got on base, so the decision to let him hit for himself worked out pretty well. Kazuo Matsui
then reached on a fielder's choice, erasing Wheeler, and scored on a triple by Karim Garcia
, batting second in a slightly better constructed lineup. Garcia then scored on a Cliff Floyd
sacrifice fly to put the Mets up by two.
Wheeler then came out to start the fifth and gave up a double to Rafael Furcal
. But really this was the beginning of the Mets' defensive troubles, as Mike Cameron
ranged impressively into the gap in left center before letting the ball bounce off of his glove. The Braves would go on to score three runs in the inning to take the lead as Wheeler was removed from the game right after the "double" for David Weathers
The Mets would go on to commit three official errors in the game, but that doesn't come close to telling the whole story. For one thing, two of the errors were by the team's new defensive specialists, Cameron and Matsui. And they each looked bad on at least one more play that wasn't scored an error. Add to that Joe McEwing
playing second base like a utility infielder and Ty Wigginton playing third base like Ty Wigginton and you've got a pretty awful defensive night.
The Mets wound up using five pitchers and the only one who didn't give up a run was Mike Stanton
, who pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing one hit. John Franco
took the loss, allowing four runs on three hits and three walks, one intentional, in two-thirds of an inning.
Cliff Floyd and Jason Phillips
had doubles, and Mike Cameron closed the gap in the ninth with a solo home run, but it wasn't enough to overcome the defense and the unique pitching circumstance to get the win. The Mets will bring their hot offense and scary defense and pitching to the bandbox in San Juan as Tyler Yates
makes his first major league start against Zach Day
(9-8, 4.18) and the Expos
. If Yates doesn't pitch well, this weekend could get ugly in a hurry.