MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince unloads on CC Sabathia

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Anthony Castrovince is one of MLB.com’s best. He’s a good reporter and, unlike some of the other people over there, he doesn’t give off the impression that he’s overly cozy with the team he covers, the Cleveland Indians. He’s a straight shooter, as likely to see things from the player’s perspective as he is the team’s perspective when those two perspectives are at odds. And even if he’s arguing one side of things, he’s always been fair in my experience.

As a result, if Castrovince is going after someone — I mean really going after someone — you can bet that something really, really got under his skin. In this case it’s CC Sabathia, who said yesterday, in response to a question about the Indians losing him, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in the space of a year or so, that “that wasn’t our fault. They traded us. That’s on them.”

Read Castovince’s laser-guided missile assault at CC Sabathia in full for all of its glory. In the meantime, here’s a taste:

Essentially, Sabathia got lucky. Because 50 years from now, Indians
fans won’t remember him as the guy who walked away from the Tribe for
the big payday elsewhere. He won’t go down with the likes of Albert
Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Rather, he’ll be remembered as the
Cy Young winner the Indians stupidly dealt in his prime.

Nevermind, of course, that the Indians were forced to deal Sabathia
because he was going to walk away three months later and because he and
his teammates crumbled upon the weight of expectations in 2008.
Nevermind that the primary reason that ’07 team — a “good team” in its
own right, having won 96 games in the regular season — didn’t ascend to
the World Series like it should have was because Sabathia was
outpitched in Games 1 and 5.

If Sabathia were being honest with himself and honest with the fans, he
would have said, “This is a business, and it’s difficult for a team in a
smaller market like Cleveland to afford to keep its core intact. That’s
why it’s a shame we weren’t able to take advantage of the special
opportunity we had in ’07. And as the ace of that pitching staff, I take
the brunt of the blame.”

You may disagree with parts of it, but I think Castrovince got it mostly right. The key here is that Castrovince does not — like so many other scribes who criticize big money players — expect some sort of loyalty from Sabathia. He didn’t expect CC to say with the Indians because such a thing made no economic or logical sense for anyone. All he expects is honesty from guys in Sabathia’s position. For them to say “hey, baseball economics are what they are, and that leads to things like Lee, Martinez and I getting traded,” rather than to disingenuously blame the team.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I think that Castrovince nailed it.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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Todd Kirkland/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.