Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Party Crashers

It's easy to forget that for all their foibles, the Mets were actually above .500 on the road last season, and even split the season series in Atlanty, perhaps the single most nauseating place in the National League for any Mets fan. Given that in the 18 year existence of Turner Field, the Mets had found innumerable frustrating ways to lose games in front of a piddling crowd of foam tomahawk-toting yahoos, finishing .500 there for a season feels like more of an accomplishment than it actually might be. But when you're the Mets and given the way the past five years have gone, you take whatever little victory you can get.

Tonight's game was another one of those little victories. It came at a fairly opportune moment, since it not only got the first road trip of the season off on a positive note, but it also spoiled the Braves' home opening pizza party. It's always nice to go into an opposing team's stadium and kick them in the nuts in front of a packed house, and that's more or less what the Mets did tonight, beating the Barves 4-0 behind a first-rate effort by Bartolo Colon and some opportunistic play from Ruben Tejada. That's not exactly the duo that you would think might lead the Mets to victory, but that's how it played out tonight.

Mostly, Colon will earn the accolades for this game, and rightfully so. Though it's borderline comical watching someone of his height and girth actually go out and play Major League Baseball, he's enough of a competitor that it works for him. His late-career resurgence has been aided by excellent control and in-game longevity, which was certainly on display this evening. In 7 innings, he kept the Braves lineup in check. Given all the brown-nosing this Braves team seems to get, it might seem like an accomplishment, but a closer look at Atlanty's lineup reveals that outside of Freddie Freeman, the majority of the Braves lineup is struggling to bat the Mendoza Line. B.J. Upton and Stone Hands Uggla both got booed off the field at one point or another through the game and others like Jason Heyward failed to produce in key spots. Nonetheless, Colon certainly deserves credit for laying down the hammer on a struggling team and coming up with the kind of effort that we hoped to see out of him. He kept the Braves completely off-balance, allowing all of 6 hits, a majority of which were 2-out singles, and 5 strikeouts, with nary a walk allowed. No walks=fewer pitches=7 inning effort=game bridged directly to Kyle Farnsworth for an inning and Jose Valverde for a cringe-worthy 9th inning.

As I mentioned earlier, Ruben Tejada was the offensive star for the Mets, with 2 hits and 2 RBI, which helped to draw attention away from the First Base Follies for a night (the starter du jour, Duda, had a hit in 4 ABs, and ended up one of Tejada's RBI). His hits weren't things of beauty, but they were effective. In the 7th inning of a 1-0 game, Tejada followed Travis d'Arnaud's flair double with a flair of his own, placed just well enough that d'Arnaud was able to get a good jump and score easily. In the 8th, Tejada got another flair hit, this one one of those "I'll take it" swings that produced a blooper into no-man's land in Right Field, scoring Duda (and preceded by Terry Collins' second successful Challenge on a Juan Lagares infield hit) with the night's final run.

A few more games like this out of the involved parties would be more than welcome by me, particularly when it involves the Barves and humbling a team that really needs to be knocked down a few pegs.

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