Dan's Dugout: Braves Blank Mets, Take First Place • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Braves Blank Mets, Take First Place

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FLUSHING, NY – The A-men didn’t bring their A-game but the A-team earned straight A’s anyway.

The Atlanta Braves not only flattened the New York Mets, 7-0, Wednesday night but rolled right into first place for the first time in years.

Sean Newcomb pitched more like ex-Dodger Don Newcombe in New York Wednesday

Armed with the three youngest players in the majors, the red-hot denizens  of Dixie didn’t get a thing from top-of-the-order speedsters Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, Jr., who went a combined 0-for-10, but rallied against a ragged Mets bullpen after ace starter Jacob deGrom left with a hyperextended right elbow.

Sean Newcomb, a big lefthander who first surfaced last summer, pitched the game of his life, blanking the Mets on two hits in seven innings — the longest outing of his career. He fanned eight, walking only one.

The Braves nursed a 1-0 lead through six but tripled their run total in the seventh via an unlikely two-out double by Newcomb, whose batting average at the time was .091. That set the stage for Ender Inciarte’s first home run of the year, a 397-foot drive to right-center field.

The roof caved in even more for New York an inning later.

After Freddie Freeman hit a one-out single, his third hit of the game, Nick Markakis brought him home with a ringing double, his third hit. Robert Gsellman retired Tyler Flowers for the second out but then yielded consecutive home runs to by Johan Camargo and Ryan Flaherty, neither of whom hits many.

Freddie Freeman’s three-hit game helped bury the Mets

Atlanta finished with 11 hits, as opposed to three by the usually-potent Mets.

Entering play Wednesday, Albies and Acuna were two of the main reasons the Braves were leading the National League in runs (154), hits (275), batting (.273), doubles (68), on-base percentage (.344), and fewest strikeouts by batters (227).

Among individual players, Albies had the most hits (35), extra-base hits (22), and total bases (76) while Acuna, a late-April arrival, was hitting a cool .417 over his six-game career. Not since Mack Jones did it in 1961 had any Braves player produced 10 hits in his first six games.

Though both players lost huge chunks off their batting averages at CitiField Wednesday, Freeman and Markakis both went 3-for-4 to keep their marks well above .300.

Camargo turned out to be an extra added attraction, clubbing a two-run homer after regular shortstop Dansby Swanson departed with an undisclosed injury.

Sean Newcomb may be a household name soon

Newcomb, for his part, never complained about facing one of the league’s toughest opponents in Jacob deGrom. The 6’5″ lefthander, the key acquisition from the Angels in the Andrelton Simmons swap, made his 25th major-league start his best. His earned run average dropped from 4.23 before the game to 3.37 after his brilliant performance.

He was even more brilliant than Mike Soroka, who held the Mets to one run in six innings during his major-league debut Tuesday. New York managed only that single run, on a Yoenis Cespedes homer, in the first two games of the three-game set.

Whomever wins Game 3 Thursday will reside atop a division experts had conceded to the Washington Nationals a month ago. Even with a win Wednesday, the Nats remain a game under .500, four-and-a-half games behind the first-place Braves.

That may sound funny to some but remember this: Atlanta has the three youngest men in the majors in Acuna and Soroka, both 20, and Albies, 21.

And in baseball, as in life, youth equals energy and often bequeaths success.

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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