Apr 18, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Harang (34) pitches against the New York Mets during the second inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
It may be April for the Atlanta Braves, but the weather in their last few games has felt like late winter. It was another cold night on the Braves road trip, this time in Flushing, NY against the Mets. You could see the breath steaming in the night air as the Braves took the field. Cold nights usually means low scores, and tonight was no different for the Mets at least. Runs were at a premium in the first seven innings, which meant pitching had to be sharp. Then, the Braves opened things up in the 8th, turning the game into a late laugher.
The Braves struck early after Niese gave up a single to Justin, and then walked Gattis. With one out, Chris Johnson roped a double to left that scored Justin, and gave the Braves a 1-0 lead. That score would hold up until the 8th inning, when BJ Upton would reach first on an infield single to third. Freddie Freeman came to the plate next, and even on a cold night he jacked a ball over the right field fence. With a 3-0 lead, Justin Upton walked, and Dan Uggla nailed one deep off the left field fence. Justin tried to score all the way from first, but he was throw out easily at the plate. However, the Mets tried to get Dan when he advanced to third, and the catcher threw the ball into left field. Dan trotted home easily. Chris Johnson followed that up with a single, and Jordan Schafer drove him home on a deep shot to right, making it 5-0 Braves.
Those extra runs weren’t even necessary because Aaron Harang was dealing all night. He gave up his fair share of walks, but he didn’t give up a single hit through 7 innings. The major problem was that he’d run up 121 pitches in that stretch. In today’s baseball, that actually means something. To me, it means nothing if his arm is good and he’s not laboring. However, Harang gave up the majority of his walks in the last two innings he pitched, so it was obvious to everyone in the ballpark he was getting fatigued. Fredi Gonzalez decided to take him down for a pinch hitter in the 7th, even with a 5 run lead, so that Harang didn’t risk over-exerting his pitching arm. That being said, having a no-hitter through 7 innings was very impressive. I probably would have let him go, but I’m of the Nolan Ryan school of pitching.
The no-hit bad lasted until 2 outs in the 8th inning, when Luis Avilan gave up a single to David Wright. Of course it was David Wright. If something cool is about to happen for the Braves, David Wright is standing there with that stupid grin on his face waiting to wreck it. I feel the same way about him that I’m sure Mets fans felt about Chipper for all these years. The good news is that even though he got that single, Avilan got the next batter. That sent the game to the 9th, where the Braves added on one more run for good measure on their way to a 6-0 win.
The player of the game was obviously Aaron Harang, who was awesome for 7 innings of no-hit work. Chris Johnson also had a great night, going 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and an RBI. BJ Upton and Dan Uggla combined for a 4-for-8 night, which is outstanding to see from those slumping hitters. They look different so far this season, and different is good. The Braves as a team finished 1-11 with RISP, once again driving me completely crazy at the plate. There are many ways to score runs, but getting hits with a guy on second isn’t a popular one for this team.
Tomorrow, it’s Game 2 of the Mets road series with Ervin Santana set to face Bartolo Colon. The rotund Colon shut the Braves down last time, so tune in for a little Tomahawk Revenge.