Mike Minor was all over the place (in a good way) tonight. He was stellar on the mound and good at the plate as the Braves took the series against the Mets
Although 4 starts could be considered a small sample size, it sure does look like the Mike Minor that Braves fans know and love is back. That low-rent, dollar store-version of Mike Minor is apparently in the past, and the good old name-brand Mike Minor had another great pitching performance, building off of his amazing outing against the Reds. This also coincided with a good night at the plate for the Braves, as they made me look silly for predicting a close one; It was close for most of the game, but it ended up being a comfortable 6-1 victory for Atlanta.
One sign that tonight was going to be a good night for Minor; After he retired the Mets 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 1st inning, he came up in the top of the 2nd with a chance to help himself. The situation was runners on 1st (Gerald Laird) and 2nd (Andrelton Simmons) with 2 outs. Normally with the pitcher up, you may as well start looking forward to the next inning. Tonight, that was not the case, as Minor ended up sliding one into left field, and Simba scored without a throw from the Mets.
That would be the only scoring in the game for a long time. Emilio Bonifacio made it on in the next frame, but he was taken off of the basepaths after Freddie Freeman hit a screamer to first, which Lucas Duda snatched out of the air and then proceeded to tag out Bonifacio for the Double Play. It was a nifty defensive play for the Mets, and other than Mike Minor having a pretty nice night at the plate, that was one of the only exciting things to occur during the middle part of the game.
It was only when the game began to enter its latter stages that business began to pick up on the field. Other than giving up an RBI in the early part of the game, Jon Niese had himself a pretty good night on the mound as well. However, the 8th inning would be his last, because the Braves finally strung together some offense in this inning.
The rally in the 8th was started by Mike Minor, who smacked a double to right to lead off the 8th. First an RBI and now a leadoff double. Jon Niese & the rest of the Mets are probably glad that Mike Minor won't be coming to New York again in 2014. After Jason Heyward struck out swinging, it was Emilio Bonifacio's turn to see if he could clean the table that Mike Minor had graciously set for him. Let's just say that he did, and then some:
The triple gave the Braves a 2-run lead, and the lead became 3 when Freddie Freeman knocked one right up the middle, bringing in Bonifacio. That ended the night for Jon Niese, who is probably somewhere right now cursing the day when Ervin Santana decided to help out Mike Minor. I doubt that that's actually the case, but wouldn't that be a funny visual, seeing Niese in the locker room shaking his fist in the air and screaming "MINOR!" or something like that? ...Alright, I apologize for the digression.
Anyways, Mike Minor's night ended shortly after that, when he was ran in the bottom of the 8th after a Travis d'Arnaud double and a Eric Campbell single put the Mets on the board, making it 3-1. Minor exited with a line of 7.0 IP, 5 Ks, 1 ER, and a 2-3 night at the plate with an RBI. That is called 'having yourself a night.' Keeping the trend of good pitching going, David Carpenter had another good outing, cleaning up the small mess that Minor left and mitigating the Mets damage to only 1 run for that inning.
Tonight marked the return of Daisuke Matsuzaka after he missed a few days due to injury. He got shelled in his last outing against Milwaukee, and tonight wasn't much better for ol' Dice-K, as the Braves knocked him around in the 9th inning. Tommy La Stella led off the inning with a single, and after the next 2 Braves batters went down without much of a fight, that left it up to pinch hitter Ryan Doumit to make something out of the inning. It's the 28th of August, and to this point, Ryan Doumit had only 1 hit in the entire month. His 2nd hit of August 2014 was a pretty big one, as he hit a 2-run homer into the Mets bullpen in right field, making it 5-1. Jason Heyward doubled afterwards, and Emilio Bonifacio capped off a lovely night at the plate by hitting a soft blooper to single to plate Heyward, making it 6-1, giving the Braves ample insurance and ending a miserable appearance for Matsuzaka.
Anthony Varvaro entered the game for the Braves in the bottom of the 9th and did the exact opposite of what Daisuke Matsuzaka did. That's to say that Varvaro sat down the Mets in order to lock down the victory for Atlanta. The Braves have now ended their long road trip with a winning record, which makes this road trip look like "Citizen Kane" compared to the West Coast road trip that was reminiscent of "Gigli."
However, the most encouraging development of the night is that, at least for now, the Mike Minor that we've grown accustomed to is back. Here's hoping that this version stays around for a long time.
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