Saturday, June 25, 2016

Hero in a pinch! Johnson's HR lifts Mets in 11th

 Julio Teheran and Jacob deGrom waged an impressive pitching battle and maintained their status as two of baseball's most unfortunate pitchers in terms of run support. Once they exited on Saturday night at Turner Field, Kelly Johnson damaged his former team with a pinch-hit home run that provided the Mets a 1-0, 11-inning win over the Braves.
Johnson, who spent this season's first two months with the Braves, opened the 11th inning with a home run off Dario Alvarez. The solo shot provided the Mets their fourth win in their past five games and ended a 23 2/3-inning scoreless streak for Atlanta's bullpen.
"You get excited coming here to play," Johnson said. "Any time you're playing against a former team, you get a little extra pep in your step. You like to go and prove yourself."
Coming off the one-hit shutout he tossed at Citi Field on Sunday, Teheran limited the Mets to five hits over eight scoreless innings. The Braves right-hander has completed a career-best 23 consecutive scoreless innings over his past three starts and 24 consecutive scoreless innings against the Mets within a three-start span that dates back to last year.
deGrom proved every bit as impressive as he scattered seven hits and did not allow a run over a season-high eight innings. The Mets have not scored a run while deGrom has been in the game within any of his past three starts. They have provided him a total of two runs of support over his past five starts.
"I'm on Julio's side, but both [starting pitchers] were impressive tonight," Braves center fielderEnder Inciarte said. "So, you can see when a game goes zero-zero through the 10th inning, it's because two starters are dealing."
Deep and gone: It was an ex-Met against an ex-Brave when Johnson stepped to the plate against Alvarez to lead off the 11th. Less than three weeks after they traded him to the Mets for the second time in a calendar year, Johnson burned his old team with a line-drive homer to right. All three of the left-handed Johnson's homers this season have come off lefty pitchers.
"I felt like it was going to be out, I did," Johnson said. "When I saw it hit the top of the wall I was a little bit humbled. That's a big gap out there."
Missed opportunity: The Braves grounded into three double plays within the first four innings and were unable to capitalize after notching three singles against deGrom in the sixth. Teheran recorded the first of these three singles, but he was held at third base whenNick Markakis drilled a two-out single to left field. Adonis Garcia followed with an inning-ending groundout.
"That's a good call," Braves manager Brian Snitker said of third base coach Bo Porter's decision to hold Teheran. "You can't run that guy into an out right there. You've just got to hope you can get a big hit with the next guy. And then shoot, Adonis smokes a ball down the line. We just couldn't scratch one over."
Scoreless, but unsupported: Striking out seven and inducing three consecutive inning-ending double plays, deGrom was as sharp as he's been all season. But the Mets gave him his usual run support: next to nothing. They have gone 21 consecutive innings without scoring a run while deGrom has been in the game, and have plated a total of two for him over his last 35 innings. He has not won since April 30 despite a 2.25 ERA over his last six starts.
"The mindset stays the same," deGrom said. "Go out there and continue to try to put up zeroes."
Looking like an ace: As Teheran has posted a 1.72 ERA over his past 13 starts, he has steadily strengthened the argument that he should still be considered a top-flight pitcher. The Braves' right-hander hit Curtis Granderson's with a 1-2 slider in the third inning and two batters later allowed a single Yoenis Cespedes. But Cespedes was thrown out attempting to take second by third baseman Adonis Garcia, who took a throw from Inciarate in center. Neil Walker followed with a flyout that began a streak in which Teheran retired 16 of the final 17 batters he faced.
"I didn't feel like I needed to change anything," Teheran said. "Obviously after you throw a one-hit shutout, you don't want to put anything else in your head. You just come in thinking if you have to make adjustments, you make adjustments. I'm just trying to compete every time."
"The thing about me is when I get told to do something and I don't do it to help the team, I get a little bit upset about it. … It's not a good feeling." -- Mets outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who popped into a bunt double play in part because he slammed his bat to the ground instead of sprinting to first base in the top of the 10th (De Aza is batting .169)
Teheran has gone 3-for-4 against Mets pitchers this year and limited Mets hitters to six hits in 56 at-bats.
Mets: Brandon Nimmo, the Mets' No. 4 prospect, should make his debut in the starting lineup in Sunday's series finale at Turner Field against the Braves at 1:35 p.m. ET. The Metscalled up Nimmo prior to Saturday's game, optioning fellow outfielder Michael Conforto to Triple-A Las Vegas. Nimmo will play behind starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, 20 years his senior.
Braves: Atlanta will counter with Bud Norris in the series finale against the Mets on Sunday. Norris has allowed two earned runs or less in three of the four starts he has made since being placed back in the Braves' rotation.

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