And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

62 Comments

Cubs 5, Pirates 3: Impressive debut for Derrek Lee: two homers. Alas, that was all the offense the Buccos could really muster as Carlos Zambrano scattered seven hits over six innings. By the way, the last player who hit a home run in his Pirates debut was pitcher Matt Morris back in 2007. I was at that game. It was more notable for my surprisingly crabby first impression of PNC Park and some surprisingly shabby treatment of a Negro Leaguer. Good times!

Nationals 5, Braves 3: I’m struggling to think of a baseball player I hate more than Livan Hernandez. Dude has haunted my dreams for 14 years. I fully expect that, decades from now, he’ll be in a motorized reclining hospital bed, unable to feed himself, and then someone will prop his 75-year-old ass up to pitch six innings against the Braves and he’ll still only give up a couple of runs. Oh, and Fredi Gonzalez hit the pitcher eighth … and he bunted into a double play. Two homers for Dan Uggla.

Indians 9, Red Sox 6: I guess it was two-homer Monday, because Asdrubal Cabrera joined Lee and Uggla in the dual home run club (UPDATE: I was so angry at Livan Hernandez that I failed to realize that Rick Ankiel had two homers too). Daniel Bard entered a tie game in the eighth, poured kerosene all over the joint and dropped a lit Winston.

Marlins 7, Mets 3: Dramatics galore. Lucas Duda was poised to be the hero — or at least a co-hero — after tying it up with a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, but then Mike Stanton hit a grand slam of Jason Isringhausen in the top of the tenth.

Diamondbacks 5, Giants 2: Ian Kennedy recovered from a leadoff homer to shut the Giants down and collect his 13th win. Arizona is now a game back of the skidding Giants.

Dodgers 6, Padres 2: A complete game for Clayton Kershaw. Three of the Dodgers six runs scored on sacrifices. Take that, Rob Neyer!

Phillies 4, Rockies 3: Trailing 3-1 heading into the ninth, the Phillies got a two-run homer from Mayberry to tie it and then a solo shot from Shane Victorino in the 10th. Everything bounces Philly’s way. They now have a seven game lead.

Brewers 6, Cardinals 2: Seven wins in a row for Milwaukee, although this is the first in that stretch over a real team (sorry Cubs and Astros). A five-run fifth inning did the trick here. I’m sure Chris Carpenter took that beating with quiet dignity and a placid equanimity befitting his zen-like character.  Or he beat the crap out of stuff in the clubhouse afterward.

Astros 4, Reds 3: Cincy continues to confuse. Sweep the Giants, lose to the AAA-Astros.  Jose Altuve knocked in the game-winning run on a fielder’s choice in the 10th.

Mariners 8, Athletics 4: A five-run second inning for the Mariners. They scored a combined four runs in the series against the Rays over the weekend.

Yankees 3, White Sox 2: CC Sabathia wins his 16th even though he allowed loads of base runners. Just battled, baby.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

atlanta braves
Adam Hagy/Getty Images
0 Comments

ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).