For most of the season, the bullpen was the Atlanta Braves’ not-so-secret weapon. It came to the fore in the most critical game of the season on Sunday night, when a cadre of Atlanta relievers fired 4 2-3 innings scoreless ball, giving Atlanta a home sweep from the Mets and a very good chance of making them the playoff. first round bye.
The bats also played a key role in this. Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson both homered, each for the third time (and in the third game) of the series. Travis d’Arnaud had the crucial at bat of the game, rolling a grounder down the middle with the bases loaded to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. The scoring then largely calmed down and the game ended at a brisk pace with a win in Atlanta.
Unlike the other two games of this series, the Braves got on the board first against Chris Bassitt, as Dansby Swanson didn’t wait for a later plate appearance before leaving the building:
That homer came as a frame after Charlie Morton smothered a two-out rally by striking out Eduardo Escobar on four straight curveballs. Morton wasn’t nearly as lucky in the second or much of the rest of the game, though: Daniel Vogelbach got a 2-0-cutter to lead from the top of the next half inning and hit it to center right to balance the match. . Morton later gave up a few hits, but struckout Francisco Lindor in a strikeout for the third out.
After a leadoff walk went nowhere against Bassitt in the bottom of the second inning, the Braves stayed with Morton, despite a heavy inning. For the second straight frame, a left-handed batter (Morton’s kryptonite this year) slammed into Morton, this time in the form of Jeff McNeil. The next two batters both singled and probably the alarm bells went off somewhere… but not in the dugout of the Braves. Vogelbach was back, but Morton stayed in the game to allow a weak role that went past Matt Olson but probably shouldn’t have. That put runners at the corners and turned it into a 3-1 Mets lead. Morton escaped further damage with a popout, strikeout and then groundout, but the Braves had their work cut out for them.
Fortunately, they’ve been very good at completing their work this series, and Chris Bassitt had it worse than Morton. Orlando Arcia and Ronald Acuna Jr. started the rally with a grounder-single on the opposite field and a walk for eight pitches, respectively. Swanson then ran another ball to Bassitt, but it died in the middle, allowing both runners to advance. Bassitt then plopped Austin Riley and his command continued to deteriorate, when he walked Olson to force a run. Travis d’Arnaud got into action, who stayed strong for seven pitches despite an 0-2 start, before getting the luck of a weak grounder that came nowhere near a Mets infielder, turning the game upside down:
That was it for Bassitt and for the rally as Trevor May came on and made Marcell Ozuna jump out.
Despite facing the lineup for the fourth time, Morton raised some eyebrows and then lit up some bile ducts by having a 1-2-3 frame. The Braves also went down against May. However, after Morton gave up an one-out single to Escobar in the fifth, the Braves decided enough was enough at the time and lifted him up before facing Vogelbach for the third time. Morton finished the game with 4 13 innings, a 5/1 K/BB ratio and two more longballs allowed. It wasn’t a good start, but it was good enough tonight.
After Morton left, the vaunted and seemingly intrepid Atlanta bullpen went to work. Dylan Lee came out of the parachute first and got two outs with ease, then two more in the top of the sixth. When he walked Brandon Nimmo with two outs, he was fielded for Collin McHugh, who struckout Lindor on three pitches to continue the game.
Seth Lugo had come in and worked a scoreless fifth, but Matt Olson greeted him with another dinger in the sixth:
That actually finished the score, although we didn’t know that at the time. After that it was all Braves bullpen. Raisel Iglesias, who was on the job for the third time in a row, allowed a leadoff single to McNeil, but nothing else. AJ Minter also gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, but then cleared it out on a double play to end the inning. Kenley Jansen, another match-3, had a soul-cleansingly easy ninth inning and needed only seven pitches to end the game. Nimmo briefly grounded to Swanson, Lindor first hit a weak bouncer to Olson and McNeil hit a hard liner, but straight to Acuña, who caught it on the court and emphatically pumped his fist for the dominance of the Braves of the Mets to be emphasized in this series.
With a two-game lead in the division and the head-to-head tiebreaker in tow, the Braves will take the NL East and a first-round bye with either one win or a Mets loss to the Nationals. This dark side is heading to Miami for their last three games, where they want to put an exclamation point on a great season before hopefully enjoying some well-deserved rest.
This was a phenomenal game in a phenomenal series in a phenomenal season. This team, simply put, is great.