Dan's Dugout: Bad News Braves Deserve More Respect • Latino Sports


Dan’s Dugout: Bad News Braves Deserve More Respect


FLUSHING, NY — After gloating about their easy end-of-season schedule, the New York Mets are glad to see the last-place Braves leave town.

Atlanta swept a three-game series at CitiField for the second straight time Wednesday, preventing the Mets from claiming an edge in a wild wild-card race.

Compounding the felony for the New Yorkers, the bullpen blew a 3-0 lead, the big hitters bailed when it counted most, and the game ended when Ender Inciarte capped a long run with a leap that allowed him to snag a potential three-run Yoenis Cespedes homer with two outs in the ninth inning.

Braves manager Brian Snitker Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Braves mgr Brian Snitker
Credit: Dan Schlossberg

Brian Snitker, the interim Atlanta manager, simply out-managed Terry Collins, whose changed pitchers with the frequency  of a Chicago Loop train dispatcher in rush hour.

Josh Smoker, for example, threw exactly one pitch — a soft single for Freddie Freeman — before he rode the Collins express back to the bench.

Collins also asked too much of overworked closer Jeurys Familia, inserted during a troublesome eighth inning rather than his usual ninth. In search of his 50th save, most in the majors, Familia instead collected a blown save in the eighth and a loss in the ninth.

Familia had allowed only two earned runs in 20.2 innings (o.87 earned run average) since August 1. The run he yielded in the ninth was unearned, thanks to an error by the usually sure-handed James Loney at first base, but the closer was lucky he didn’t yield more.

Mets starter Bartolo Colon, a medical marvel at age 43, looked like a winner for most of the game.

No 15th win for Bartolo against the red-hot Braves

No 15th win for Bartolo against the red-hot Braves

Starting against the inexperienced Ryan Weber, Colon was coasting with a 3-0 lead — hardly surprising after entering the night with a 1.71 ERA against Atlanta this season.

By the time the night was over, however, the Braves had out-hit the Mets, 9-7, and outscored them, 4-3, to win their fifth consecutive game (two against the Nationals in Atlanta and all three games of the CitiField series). The team is 16-12 over its last 28 games, thanks in part to lineup additions of leftfielder Matt Kemp, acquired in a trade with San Diego, and shortstop Dansby Swanson, a stud prospect already winning comparisons to Derek Jeter.

The Atlanta hero Wednesday was ex-Met Anthony Recker, who hit the first opposite-field home run of his career with a man on base. That cut the New York lead to 3-2 and spelled the beginning of the end for the rotund Colon, who looked like his uniform was last worn by Chris Christie.

Freddie Freeman's arrival at CitiField brought rain on the Mets parade

Freddie Freeman’s arrival at CitiField brought rain on the Mets parade

Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 25 games, the best active one anywhere in the majors at the moment, and even collected a key stolen base, on the back end of a double steal with Inciarte. He has the most extra-base hits in the National League and already has a career peak in home runs. Entering play Wednesday, his 2016 batting average at CitiField was .485 (16-for-33).

The Braves now have at least eight hits in 21 straight games, two short of the club record compiled over the 1969 and 1970 seasons. They took the season’s series from the Mets, 10-9, deeply hurting New York’s chances to claim the top spot in the wild-card game.

In fact, Major League Baseball has drawn up a complicated scenario of what would happen if the Giants, Cardinals, and Mets finish with identical records. There has never been a three-way tie in baseball history but this year could be different. Both the Mets and Cards lost while the Giants took an early lead against the Dodgers in a late-night California game Wednesday. All three had 80-71 records when the night started.

Although the Mets host the Phillies for four games starting Thursday, the only reliable starter

Noah Syndergaard will try to get back into the win column vs the Phils Photo Credit: George Napolitano/Latino Sports

Noah Syndergaard will try to get back into the win column vs the Phils
George Napolitano photo

scheduled to work is Noah Syndergaard, beaten badly by the Braves Monday.

Elsewhere in baseball:

The Boston Red Sox have the best record of any team in the month of September . . .

Jay Bruce, lifted for a pinch-hitter Tuesday, appeared as a pinch-hitter Wednesday but struck out, prompting another wave of boos from Mets fans . . .

The Texas Rangers are about to clinch their seventh division title . . .

With 19 home runs in extremely limited playing time, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez is a virtual cinch to be American League Rookie of the Year.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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