Braves rally for win over Mets

Braves rally for win over Mets





Original Source


ATLANTA — After watching Mark Melancon nearly blow a four-run, ninth-inning lead for the second time in four games, Braves manager Brian Snitker was feeling much more relieved than celebratory after surviving a 6-4 win over the Mets on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.
“We’re out here to win games,”

ATLANTA — After watching Mark Melancon nearly blow a four-run, ninth-inning lead for the second time in four games, Braves manager Brian Snitker was feeling much more relieved than celebratory after surviving a 6-4 win over the Mets on Wednesday night at SunTrust Park.

“We’re out here to win games,” Snitker said. “We’re not out here trying to do anything other than that, however we’ve got to do it. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, but we were able to play around it.”

Box score

The Braves produced their latest late-inning eruption with the five-run seventh tallied against Seth Lugo, who was the National League’s Reliever of the Month for July. But a potentially costly Johan Camargo defensive miscue created stress as the Mets tallied two ninth-inning runs before Melancon and Jerry Blevins combined to escape a bases-loaded threat.

“We’re not even clicking on all cylinders, and we’re still winning,” Braves left-hander Dallas Keuchel said. “That’s really the key to tonight’s game.”

The Braves’ bullpen has produced a 6.92 ERA since three key relievers — Melancon, Shane Greene and Chris Martin — were acquired before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Dansby Swanson’s three-week absence with a right heel injury has become more concerning as Camargo’s defensive decline has become more of a regular liability. And Adam Duvall’s bid to be a suitable replacement for the injured Nick Markakis has faded as he has produced a .364 OPS over his past 12 games.

Still, the Braves have maintained a six-game lead over the Nationals and they now sit 10 games in front of the Mets, who had won 15 of 17 before dropping the first two games of this three-game series. The Braves’ bid to defend their National League East title has been strengthened by the success they’ve had against division foes over the past few months.

Here are the records in head-to-head matchups between the NL East’s four playoff hopefuls (everyone but the Marlins) dating back to June 1: Braves 18-9, Nationals 10-9, Phillies 10-12 and the Mets 5-13.

Even though it feels a lot has gone wrong lately, the Braves have won six of their past eight games. Per Fangraphs, they have a 84.4 percent chance to win the division and a 99.5 percent chance to earn a playoff berth.

Here are three takeaways from what became an ugly win:

Bullpen shows signs of hope, then slips
It looked like the tide might be turning when the Braves received a perfect eighth from Greene, who had retired just 10 of the 25 batters he’d faced since being acquired from the Tigers. His struggles led Snitker to give the closer’s role to Melancon, who made four scoreless appearances before squandering a four-run, ninth-inning lead in Saturday’s 10-inning loss to the Marlins.

Melancon was handed the same 6-2 advantage against the Mets and then began to unravel as he allowed four straight one-out hits, including consecutive RBI singles by Amed Rosario and Luis Guillorme. New York then loaded the bases when Camargo botched a double play turn. Melancon responded by striking out Wilson Ramos. But Snitker then called upon lefty Blevins, who notched his first save of the year by striking out Michael Conforto.

The Braves have used Arodys Vizcaíno, A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson, Greene and Melancon as their closer at different points this season. Even after adding the three veterans two weeks ago, they’re heading into the stretch run without a definitive ninth-inning option.

Camargo’s woes
As Swanson has taken much longer than anybody expected to recover from a bruised right heel suffered on July 23, Camargo’s reduced range has steadily become more concerning. His inability to field Rosario’s two-out grounder allowed J.D. Davis to follow with a go-ahead, two-run single off Martin.

Camargo also fumbled a double-play feed Ozzie Albies provided after fielding Pete Alonso’s one-out grounder in the ninth. Instead of the game being over, Melancon and Blevins had to get through the bases-loaded threat.

Charlie Culberson will likely continue to get a bulk of the starts at shortstop until Swanson returns. Culberson spent some time after Wednesday’s game talking to Camargo, whose confidence has been shaken a year after he proved to be one of the team’s most valuable assets.

“That’s a big hole when you lose your shortstop,” Snitker said. “We’ll do it with the couple guys we have.”

Late-inning charge
After allowing Ender Inciarte’s RBI double in the second, Steven Matz retired each of the next 14 batters he faced and notched the two-out single that fueled New York’s two-run seventh. But he was lifted after 79 pitches because manager Mickey Callaway had faith in Lugo, who entered having allowed just four hits and one run over his past 17 2/3 innings.

Lugo allowed the Braves five hits and the only out he recorded came via a Tyler Flowers forceout at second after Conforto short-hopped Matt Joyce’s fielder’s choice. This uprising was nothing new for Snitker’s club. Atlanta leads the Majors in runs scored (235) in the seventh inning or later and its .833 OPS within this category matches Boston for the league lead.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.






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