And we’re live. Here’s the lineup for the Mets:
CF — Kirk Nieuwenhuis
2B — Daniel Murphy
3B — David Wright
1B — Ike Davis
LF — Jason Bay
RF — Lucas Duda
C — Josh Thole
SS — Ronny Cedeno
P — R.A. Dickey
And for the Braves:
CF — Michael Bourn
LF — Martin Prado
RF — Jason Heyward
2B — Dan Uggla
1B — Freddie Freeman
3B — Juan Francisco
C — David Ross
SS — Tyler Pastornicky
P — Jair Jurrjens
Top of the First Inning:
— Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ first career appearance as a lead-off hitter: Letter high fastball for a strike, changeup outside for a ball, fastball away fouled off, fastball low for a ball, then a 2-2 changeup left up that Nieuwenhuis lines into center field, right at Michael Bourn. Jurrjens’ fastball is sitting 88 MPH, and his changeup at 82-83 MPH. Jurrjens’ velocity has been down since the middle of last season, and that’s not a lot of separation in speed between his fastball and changeup.
— Murphy grounds out to second, bringing up David Wright with two outs. Since yesterday’s game, the Braves have been attacking Wright in a new way. Atlanta’s infield is over-shifting to the left side, Dan Uggla playing right behind the second base bag, while Jurrjens and the other Braves pitchers pound the outside corner with fastballs. Wright is mostly whiffing on the outside fastballs, and any he does reach he hits right back up the middle . . . like the pitch he just swung at. Wright grounds out to Uggla, positioned perfectly.
Bottom of the First:
— That was fast. Dickey throws nine pitches, eight for strikes, working fast. He strikes out Bourn with three knuckleballs, Prado grounds out to second on a defensive cut, and Heyward strikes out on four knuckleballs. 0-0 after one.
Top of the Second:
— Ike Davis blasts a leadoff home run to right center. With a 1-2 count to Davis, Jurjenns looked to come inside with a fastball and missed badly over the plate, fence high. Davis does what Davis does. 1-0 Mets.
— Bay walks!
— Jurrjens doesn’t look sharp. His fastball velocity doesn’t allow him any mistakes, his changeup is up, and he’s only thrown a few sliders. Jurrjens tried to throw two straight changeups to Lucas Duda, both belt high and away, and Duda took the first and lined the second into center field. Two on, no out.
— Thole strikes out, Jurrjens doing a better job moving inside and outside.
— With Ronny Cedeno up, Jason Bay . . . steals third? No double steal, Duda didn’t follow. Considering David Wright’s finger injury and his limited ability to slide hands first, will Jason Bay lead the Mets in stolen bases this season?
— No, probably not.
— Ronny Cedeno hits into a double play, 5-4-3. Mets up 1-0.
Bottom of the Second:
— The Dan Uggla Chronicles: Five knuckleballs, two of which Uggla manages to foul off with two strikes, then — relief! — a fastball. Uggla grounds out to Murphy. Uggla is now 0-24 against Dickey.
— Dickey makes his first mistake of the game, a flat, 2-0 knuckleball to Freddie Freeman that ends up a double to right. The television rain appears to be coming down harder.
— Dickey makes his second mistake of the game. After a series of knuckleballs, Juan Francisco smacks a 2-2 fastball to center field.
— David Ross grounds out — after getting burned with a fastball to Francisco, Dickey came right at Ross with a first pitch fastball, and then went back to the knuckleball — and Tyler Pastornicky strikes out on (surprise) five knuckleballs. 2-1 Braves through two.
Top of the Third:
— Jurrjens jams Dickey, inducing a ground out to third, then walks expert leadoff hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Really raining on TV, but television always makes the rain look heavy.
— Expert leadoff hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis steals second base, wet track and all. That’s the Mets’ second stolen base of the game. David Ross can throw, so if the Mets’ plan involves attacking someone with their running game, they’re going after Jurrjens.
— Murphy walks, bringing up David Wright with runners on first and second, one out. Jurrjens starts off Wright with a changeup that’s down but not down enough. Wright drives it to the wall in center field, scoring Nieuwenhuis and Murphy. 3-2 Mets.
— Ike Davis lines a ball off Freddie Freeman’s glove and it bounces to the grass outside the infield dirt. Tim Teufel waves Wright around third. Dan Uggla recovers the ball just as Wright rounds third, and throws Wright out by a mile. (Not really a mile. More like 15 feet.)
— The Mets keep running. With Jason Bay up, even Ike Davis is taking off, though he has to return to first when Bay fouls the pitch into the stands. Bay walks again, two on with two out.
— Jurrjens, who has looked awful most of the game, just beats up Lucas Duda to end the inning. Slider for a strike, gets Duda to chase a fastball up and away, then comes back in with a fastball for a called strike three. Inning over, Mets up 3-2.
Bottom of the Third:
— Everyone else says it “Jair Jurrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-jens,” right? He’s leading off the inning.
— Jair Jurrrrrrrrrrrrrrr-jens dumps a knuckleball into right field. I wonder if I could hit a knuckleball.
— Bourn dumps a knuckleball into left. Ruh-roh. Two on, no out.
— By the by, opposing pitchers are batting .216/.232/.237 against Dickey for his career. That’s pretty good for pitchers, who hit .142/.177/.184 as a group in the NL last season.
— Martin Prado dumps a knuckleball down the left field line for a double, scoring Jurrjens and Bourn. Everyone is dumping knuckleballs. After a great first, Dickey looks like he’s having trouble getting a good tumble on the knuckleball. The rain, maybe?
— Jason Heyward breaks his bat on a knuckleball. Lines out to Ike Davis.
— Well, you know it’s going poorly for Dickey now. Dan Uggla, 0-24 against Dickey until this point, gets all of a first pitch knuckleball for a two-run home run. Bro hugs for everyone. The Braves are up 6-3 now. Just one out.
— Dickey ramps up the knuckler from 73 MPH to 77-78 MPH against Freddie Freeman, and looks to get some better movement. Strikes out Freeman.
— Dickey keeps working with a slightly harder knuckleball, 77-78 MPH to Juan Francisco. Francisco pops up softly to David Wright in foul territory. Through three innings, 6-3 Braves.
Top of the Fourth:
— Jurrjens throws four pitches and gets two outs, Thole and Cedeno both flying out to center field. R.A. Dickey hits for himself, sees three pitches and then grounds back to the pitcher. Nice shutdown inning from Jurrjens against the bottom of the Mets’ lineup, or bad job by the bottom of the Mets’ lineup, not working Jurrjens any better.
Bottom of the Fourth:
— David Ross leads off with another bloop hit. Special Agent Miguel Batista (codename: Human White Flag) begins warming up in the bullpen.
— Pastornicky grounds into a fielder’s choice, then Jurrjens bunts him over to second. Two outs.
— Dickey can’t throw his knuckleball for a strike and walks Michael Bourn. Two on, two out.
— Martin Prado has really, really heavy eye black on today. It’s raining in Atlanta, and reportedly has been all day. He probably wears sunglasses at night. Prado flies out to center, and Dickey has his second scoreless inning.
Top of the Fifth:
— The Braves’ ground crew continues to work on the field between innings, according to the television shots I’m watching. So we’ve got a slight delay there. Expert leadoff hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis is set to lead off the inning.
— Nieuwenhuis lashes an 86 MPH fastball down the opposite foul line, then hustles around first for a lead off double. Jurrjens’ changeup is sitting around 83 MPH, and his fastball is now down to 87-86 MPH.
— Murphy gets ahead in the count and grinds a fastball back up the middle. First and third, no outs for David Wright.
— Here’s how Jurrjens worked Wright: Fastball away fouled off, fastball in for a called strike two, fastball away fouled off, fastball away fouled off, tried to throw a slider just off the plate but missed back over the middle. Wright hit the ball back up the middle, where both Pastornicky and Uggla were stationed in some kind of double-play/shift depth that they probably need to practice more, because they ran into each other, Uggla ends up with the baseball and throws late and wild to first. Nieuwenhuis scores, Murphy takes third on the error, Wright is credited with a single. Jurrjens is done. 6-4 Braves.
— Wright still can’t hit that fastball just off the plate, and that’s how the Braves are attacking him. But every pitch needs to be placed perfectly, because Wright hits every mistake.
— Cristhian Martinez comes into the game, facing Ike Davis with runners at first and third. Martinez throws Davis one fastball, everything else sliders and changeups. Davis grounds to Freddie Freeman, who nails Murphy at the plate by ten feet. That’s two runners thrown out at the plate for the Mets today. One out, runners at first and second.
— Jason Bay hits a ball well — small victories — but right at Martin Prado in left. Two outs.
— The Braves are pitching Lucas Duda inside and outside, and he seems to find this painful and confusing. He grounds out weekly to Dan Uggla to end the inning. Mets leave two and have a runner thrown out at home. 6-4 Braves.
Bottom of the Fifth:
— Dickey strikes out Heyward to start the inning. Heyward has seen a series of tough pitches, striking out twice and breaking his bat.
— Dan Uggla, in an inspiring display of restraint, walks on two knuckleballs and two fastballs out of the zone. Protein shakes for all.
— Gary Cohen: “That knuckleball is really starting to dance again . . .”
Freddie Freeman: Crushes a knuckleball down the left field line.
— Terry Collins emerges to remove Dickey. 8-4 Braves. Dickey finishes with five strikeouts and two walks, but three home runs allowed and a number of bloop hits over 4.1 innings. So that didn’t go all that well.
— Human White Flag enters the game. Strikes out Juan Francisco with four sinkers, then gets David Ross with three sliders and three sinkers. Batista, age 41 and pitching for the third time in four day, is hitting 92 on the SNY gun. 8-4 Braves through five innings.
Top of the Sixth:
— Josh Thole starts the inning by driving a 2-0 fastball over Michael Bourn’s head. Bourn took a poor route to the ball and Thole ends up on second base.
— Ronny Cedeno grounds out 5-3, as Thole moves over to second.
— Mike Baxter has the right idea, looking first pitch fastball coming off the bench, but Martinez has a better idea, throwing Baxter a first pitch changeup. Martinez tries to fool Baxter with another changeup, and Baxter pulls the ball into right. First and third, one out.
— And then expert leadoff hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis pulls a fastball through the hole into right field, scoring Thole and sending Baxter to second. 8-5 Braves.
— The Dan Uggla Chronicles: Uggla fields a double play ball hit by Murphy, and flips the ball over Pastornicky’s head. Pastornicky jumps and gets the out at second, but with Nieuwenhuis bearing down throws high to first base and Murphy is safe.
— Here’s how Martinez works David Wright with runners on first and third and two out: Fastball away for a ball, fastball away for a ball, slider away for a ball, fastball away for a called strike one, changeup away for a swinging strike, then a changeup away for the swinging strikeout. Six pitches, every one on the outside corner or just off it. When Martinez missed, he missed farther outside and not back over the plate. That seems to get it done against Wright, and the Mets are done in the sixth. 8-5 Braves.
Bottom of the Sixth:
— Bobby Parnell pitching for the Mets. Series of misplays starts the inning. Tyler Pastornicky hits a ball back at Parnell, who deflects it behind his back towards Ronny Cedeno, who doubles back and throws wide to first, pulling Davis off the bag.
— Larry Jones pinch hits, and drives a fliner to the wall in left. Jason Bay gets the ball in his glove, but the incoming wall jars it loose like a free safety. The play is ruled an error — pass interference? — Jones ends up on second, and Pastornicky scores.
— And then Michael Bourn singles to right, scoring Larry Wayne Jones. That’s 19 runs allowed by Mets pitchers over the past two days. The Mets allowed 20 runs in their first six games of the season.
— Parnell strikes out Prado looking and Heyward swinging. With Heyward at the plate, Bourn gets such a huge jump on Parnell that he takes five steps towards second, and then thinking his jump is too good, stops and goes back to first as Parnell moves towards the plate. Bourn takes second a few pitches later.
— Parnell gets Uggla swinging. Three strikeouts in the inning, but two (or one) errors and two runs. 10-5 Braves.
Top of the Seventh:
— Chad Durbin pitching for the Braves. Greets Ike Davis with Davis’ nemesis, the curveball, and Davis goes down swinging. Fastballs away to David Wright, breaking pitches for Ike Davis.
— Jason Bay singles, adding to a quiet, solid game. That’s two walks and a hit, and his only out was struck well. Duda follows with a single of his own, dumping a changeup just over Tyler Pastornicky’s head. First and second and one out.
— Josh Thole hits a chopper back to the pitcher, 1-3, advancing the runners. Tyler Pastornicky could be heard yelling this to Durbin:
— Ronny Cedeno takes a 3-1 fastball, to the chagrin of the booth, but works a walk, loading the bases with two outs for a pinch hitting Scott Hairston.
— Durbin gets ahead with two strikes and starts tempting Hairston with some nasty curveballs. With the count back even, he paints the black with a cutter. Tough pitch. Mets strand three. That’s 17 baserunners for the Mets against 12 for the Braves, but the Braves still lead 10-5.
Bottom of the Seventh:
— Tim Byrdak in for the Mets, come to rain sliders upon the sinistral Braves.
— “Woe is me,” cries Freddie Freeman, waving helplessly as baseballs pass him by. “If only I had been born hitting righthanded,” screams Juan Francisco. Byrdak ignores his pleas for mercy and sends the boy away on strikes as well.
— Righthanded hitting David Ross walks and righthanded hitting Tyler Pastornicky singles. Righthanded hitting Matt Diaz hits for the pitcher.
— Matt Diaz singles off the glove of a diving Lucas Duda. The earth shakes. Ross scores, Pastornicky to third.
— Michael Bourn, lefthanded hitting, hits the ball back to Byrdak, but it bounces off Byrdak’s glove and everyone is safe. And so it goes. 12-5 Braves. Byrdak exits.
— In that Just for Men “the last grey haired men on earth has disappeared” commercial: Are they killing the bald guys, or what?
— Jon Rauch! Ya’ll know what that means for the rest of this inning.
— Arrrrrooooo, arrr, arrr. Rawwwwwwwr. (Prado flies out to center, inning over.)
Top of the Eight:
— Livan Hernandez pitching for the Braves. Expert leadoff hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis is all like, “Yo, Brohan, I can totally hit this guy” and lines a double off the right-center wall.
— And then Daniel Murphy singles to right scoring Nieuwenhuis.
— Livo against Wright: Fastball away for a called strike, slider away fouled off, bugs bunny curveball away in the dirt, bugs bunny curveball up and away that Wright just misses and flies to center.
— Against Davis, Livo goes away with a first pitch curveball, then comes inside with two relative fastballs, jamming Davis on the second. Davis goes down on a soft liner to short.
– Jason Bay ends the inning with a bugs bunny curveball ground to short. Livan Hernandez, master magician, sub-par accountant.
Bottom of the Eighth:
— Jason Heyward greets Frank Francisco with a standup triple down the right field line. The warning track is muddy and Lucas Duda is slow — Heyward looked like he was thinking inside-the-park home run coming into third.
— Runner on third, no outs, down 12-6 on the road in the eighth inning, the Mets bring the infield in. I assume this is more for practice than for actual run prevention purposes. Murphy tackles a ground ball from Uggla — really, he almost fell on it — holds Heyward at third, and gets the out at first. Bringing the infield in worked!
— Nevermind. Freddie Freeman gets the run in with a sacrifice fly to center, two outs, 13-6 Atlanta.
— Franklin Francisco gives up a double to Juan Francisco. I was disappointed to learn Frank Francisco was not short for Francisco Francisco.
— It’s raining, it’s a blow out, and this game is taking forever. If this were a little league game, everyone’s parents would be miserable.
— David Ross hits a ball over David Wright’s head, scoring Francisco, and in a sad attempt to get the game moving, tries to stretch it into a double. Second base umpire Mike Everitt is apparently having a grand ol’ time in the rain and calls Ross safe at second.
— Tyler Pastornicky grounds out, 4-3, to end the inning. The Braves add two runs and now lead 14-6 going to the ninth. Comeback!
Top of the Ninth:
— Hernandez, just lobbing pitches on the outer half, gets Duda and Thole to fly out to center, then Cedeno pops out to right. Game over, final score 14-6 Braves.
— That was awful.