NEW YORK (AP)—For Atlanta’s John Thomson, this pitching business is no big mystery.
“If I get my sinker working down and away to both left-handed and right-handed hitters, it makes it easier to pitch,” he said.
And as evidence, Thomson scattered seven hits over eight innings, struck out seven and walked none in Wednesday night’s 6-1 victory over the New York Mets. There was an economy of pitches, just 94 needed, and a consistency of strikes, with 65.
It was a mismatch, especially after a five-run third inning armed the right-hander with a comfortable lead. Thomson got into a groove, constantly getting ahead of hitters and breezing.
“First-pitch strikes,” he said. “That makes a big difference.”
The Mets noticed.
“He pitched a real solid game,” Mets manager Art Howe said. “He was throwing strikes with all his pitches, getting ahead. And he got those early runs to work with.”
Rookie Dewayne Wise touched off the five-run rally with a triple and it became a big inning when Mark DeRosa, Marcus Giles and Adam LaRoche followed with singles and Andruw Jones added an RBI double off Tyler Yates (0-1). Eli Marrero added a sacrifice fly and Jesse Garcia had an RBI single as the Braves opened a 6-0 lead.
Thomson (1-0) didn’t let the big margin break his concentration.
“You can’t relax too much on something like that or the same thing is going to happen to you,” he said.
So he kept throwing strikes, retiring 10 of 11 Mets over one stretch and cruising to the win.
Manager Bobby Cox was delighted with the performance.
“He was outstanding,” Cox said. “He had great control and good stuff. He is sneaky fast. He is a master of command of his pitches. He can make the ball sink and he gets ground balls.”
Jones drove in a run in the first with a sacrifice fly after Wise reached on a two-base error by Mike Piazza, who was starting his second game at first base. Then came the five-run rally and Thomson took care of the rest.
The Mets nicked him for a run in the fifth on a leadoff double by Ty Wigginton, a single by Ricky Gutierrez and Kaz Matsui’s sacrifice fly. He gave up a double to Jason Phillips leading off the seventh and a single to Matsui opening the eighth but retired the next three batters each time.
Chris Reitsma pitched the ninth for Atlanta.
The Mets have decided to hire John Ricco of the commissioner’s office as an assistant to GM Jim Duquette, according to an executive of another team. … Marrero was recalled from his injury rehabilitation assignment before the game and started in right field. … The start of the game was delayed one hourby rain.