May 25, 2013; Flushing, NY,USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Minor (36) heads home on his two run home run during the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
On a more than unusual night in New York, the Braves managed to garner two wins in less than four hours of field time.
To begin the evening, the Mets and Braves rejoined action from Friday night’s rain-halted game after an oddly-timed stoppage looked to be a disadvantage for Atlanta. The Mets scored two runs in the midst of a driving rain storm on Friday to tie the game at 5-5, and there was serious controversy as to whether the game should have continued past the top half of the 8th inning.
The Braves failed to score during the 9th inning (despite a runner at third and just one out), but Anthony Varvaro worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the Braves, and the two teams continued action. In the top of the tenth inning, the Braves took full advantage of a struggling Brandon Lyon, and when Dan Uggla knocked in Freddie Freeman (who walked to lead-off the inning), the Braves grabbed a 6-5 lead. Atlanta was able to add an insurance run on a BJ Upton squeeze bunt (yes, you read that right), and when Craig Kimbrel slammed the door in the bottom half, the Braves escaped with a two-day victory.
Saturday’s completion took only 42 minutes, but it was a big win for the Braves in a game that featured several lead changes, and some unfortunate weather luck. Kris Medlen (6 IP, 3 ER) did yeoman’s work on Friday night, and the aforementioned Freddie Freeman led the offense with a 2-for-4 day that featured 3 runs scored and 2 RBI.
In the “second” game of the night on Saturday, the Braves and Mets were playing dead-even baseball through the first 4 innings. Both starters, Dillon Gee for New York and Mike Minor for Atlanta, were cruising and the game had all the makings of a grueling pitcher’s duel. Then, the Braves bats exploded in the top of the 5th inning, and that set the stage for a 6-0 victory.
Gee retired Brian McCann and Dan Uggla to lead off the frame, but the Atlanta offense came to life after Chris Johnson broke the ice with a single. Mike Minor stroked the first home run of his Major-League career, scoring Johnson and giving the Braves a 2-0 lead, and the Braves followed the blast with four consecutive hits, including two doubles, to break the game open. Minor’s home run clearly shook Gee’s confidence, but the three consecutive doubles from Andrelton Simmons, Jason Heyward, and Justin Upton put the game out of reach, and Freddie Freeman’s RBI single extended the road team’s lead to 5-0.
Following the explosion, Mike Minor continued his dominance. The Braves “ace” finished with a sparkling stat line of 7.1 innings, 3 hits, 2 walks, 0 ER, and 10 strikeouts. He was absolutely electric from the first pitch (as evidenced by his strikeouts), and if you throw in his fantastic/ridiculous two-hit night that included a home run at the plate, it was one of the best nights of Minor’s young career. It was only the second time in Minor’s career that he went 7-or-more shut-out innings, and it was the first time since his 3rd career start (in 2010) that he struck out double-digit batters. Minor has been the leader of the staff thus far, and if Saturday’s performance is any indication, that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
There were many heroes on Saturday night, as the Braves also got 2 hits from Simmons, Justin Upton, and Freeman, but the “second” game of the night will be remembered for Mike Minor’s brilliance. His performance headlined the 8th consecutive win for Atlanta, and all eyes will be on Citi Field as the Braves go for three consecutive series sweeps with the nationally-televised audience of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Stay tuned.