Braves 3, Mets 2 (ATL: 5-1, NYM: 4-2, 1 GB)
I'm an optimist, so we begin with the good news: Orlando Hernandez had another very good start for the Mets - 6 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 4 walks, and 6 K's. He definitely put them in a position to win the game. Unfortunately, Aaron Heilman proved to be the weak link in the bullpen on Sunday, giving up 2 eighth inning runs, and the Mets lost their second straight to Atlanta.
It's in my memory that the Mets have struggled against Kyle Davies. That's not something I've looked up...but it sounds familiar to me. Davies gave up back-to-back home runs in the second inning to Shawn Green and Ramon Castro (who hit a bomb), but other than that, he was very good against the Mets. He was also helped by some good defense - that same inning, Andruw Jones robbed David Wright of an extra-base hit with an over-the-shoulder diving catch. Davies struck out 8 Mets in 6-and-2-thirds innings.
Right from the start, though, the Mets wasted opportunities. Jose Reyes led off with a 4-pitch walk, stole second, and got to third on a balk. He was stranded. Wright was robbed later, and the Mets left Reyes on again after he tripled in the fifth (with two outs).
For the Braves, Kelly Johnson led off the game with a homer, giving them the early 1-0 lead. And the Mets had the 2-1 lead into the 8th, when Heilman surrendered the first runs by the bullpen all year (week). Chipper Jones led off the inning with a double, and scored on a double by Brian McCann. Then Jeff Francoeur lined one into right field, which turned into a double, scoring McCann. Just like that, the Braves were ahead.
Bob Wickman made the Mets go quietly in the ninth - a flyout to center by Green, a flyout to left by Castro, and then he struck out pinch hitter David Newhan looking. The loss puts the Braves a game in front of the Mets in the division. That's the first time the Mets have been out of first in about a year (they took over first early last year and stayed there).
The Mets have their home opener on Monday (before another off day Tuesday), against the self-proclaimed "team to beat" in the division, the Phillies (who absolutely don't scare me in 2007). I have a feeling the Braves are going to be hanging around more this year than last. I'm not saying they're going to be a huge threat - but they're going to be the team to worry about in the East. John Maine pitches for the Mets at Shea Monday.
1010 WINS JOHNNYMETS.BLOGSPOT.COM PLAYER OF THE GAME: Sunday the award goes to Bob Wickman of the Braves. He picked up his third save of the season, setting the Mets down 1-2-3 in the ninth. A day after things got a bit dicey in the ninth for the Braves, Wickman didn't give the Mets a chance. His line: 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 H, 1 K.
SCHEDULE: The Mets don't play a particular division in interleague play this year - they play the Twins, A's, Tigers, and Yankees twice. The Yankees is because of the rivalry, but the other three, I think, are because the Mets won the division. I feel like the division winner gets a tougher interleague schedule. Am I right on that, or am I confusing it with football? That's a tough go for the Mets this year, though. The Mets also make two trips to Los Angeles this year to face the Dodgers. They have a difficult schedule.
APRIL 8TH - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO HALL OF FAMER GARY CARTER!! (and Dave in Brighton)
BEAT THE STREAK: Snowed out again. I'm going to try one more time with that series - Ichiro on Monday.