Monday, June 27, 2016

Braves ride HRs, strong Norris to split with Mets

 Freddie Freeman hit a first-inning home run off Bartolo Colon, and Bud Norrisadded yet another impressive start to his recent ledger as the Braves secured a four-game series split with Sunday afternoon's 5-2 win over the Mets at Turner Field.
Freeman's opposite-field home run proved to be the only costly blow delivered against Colon, who scattered six hits and allowed just the one run over seven innings. The Mets veteran's effort was trumped by Norris, who recorded a season-high eight strikeouts and allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings.
"We've been playing pretty well for the last couple weeks," Freeman said. "Our starting rotation, minus a couple games, has kept us in games, and we're starting to swing the bats better. It seems like the Mets have been in the middle of our nice little run and we've played them well."
Adonis Garcia's three-run home run off Logan Verrett highlighted a decisive four-run eighth inning produced by the Braves, who won five of seven games played against the Mets this month. Yoenis Cespedes' RBI groundout and Wilmer Flores' RBI single accounted for the two runs the Mets tallied against Alexi Ogando in the ninth inning.
"We aren't hitting right now, but look, we're two games back in the loss column," Mets manager Terry Collins said, alluding to his team's upcoming three-game series against the Nationals. "We'll take it. The worst-case scenario going into the All-Star break is just don't lose any more ground."
Trade value rising: Norris has produced a 2.15 ERA in the five starts he's made since ending his bullpen stint to make an emergency start in place of Mike Foltynewicz. The veteran right-hander notched three of his strikeouts during a perfect first inning and pitched around the consecutive singles James Loney and Flores recorded to begin the fifth. Norris' recent success has increased the possibility that the Braves will attempt to gain some value for him before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"You've really got to minimize things here and there," Norris said. "It was nice that I didn't walk anybody and we got another win. We've just got to keep this thing going." More >
0-For-Nimmo: True to his scouting report, Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo hacked at the first pitch he saw in his big league career. He fouled off that Norris fastball and wound up finishing 0-for-4 in his debut, including a fielder's choice with two men on base and no outs in the fifth. The Mets called up Nimmo prior to Saturday's game in an attempt to jump-start a scuffling offense, but he did not play until Sunday.
"After the first pitch of my first at-bat, it was kind of like, 'OK, it's the same game,'" Nimmo said. "I was really just more excited than anything to get it going. Coming up there for your first at-bat, you're wondering what it's like. Then you go up there and you're like, 'OK, it looks the same.'" More >
Three more for Free: Freeman recorded at least three hits for the sixth time within the past 13 games. The Braves first baseman began his latest three-hit game by hitting Colon's first-pitch fastball into the first row of the left-field seats. He has batted .385 (20-for-52) against the Mets this season and .481 (13-for-27) in his career against Colon.
"I just treat [Colon] like I do a knuckleballer," Freeman said. "You know he's going to throw strikes, so I just go up there swinging. Today, he was [throwing] a little bit slower than normal. So I just kind of wanted to sit back and get a good pitch to hit. He seemed to be doing that early in counts. So I came out aggressive like I normally do."
Power and glove: Along with providing the decisive blow with his fourth home run within a span of 48 at-bats, Garcia also made two dazzling defensive plays. The Braves third baseman caught Neil Walker's pop fly before nearly falling into the stands in the second inning. Then in the ninth, he slid along the grass to make an over-the-shoulder catch on Loney's pop fly behind third base. More >
Mets: Fresh off a peace-of-mind elbow examination last week in Manhattan, Noah Syndergaard will return to the mound to kick off a three-game series in Washington on Monday. The Mets have closed significant ground on the Nats over the past week, and they will look to inch closer to first place when Syndergaard takes on right-hander Joe Ross in a 7:05 p.m. ET game at Nationals Park.
Braves: John Gant will take the mound when Atlanta opens a three-game series against Cleveland on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Turner Field. The Indians have lost seven of the nine games played in Atlanta dating back to the 1995 World Series.

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