Take that Larry!
On the night when the Atlanta Braves honored their iconic hitter who defined their success from the 90’s through the turn of the century, it was the Mets who ultimately played spoiler on Chipper Jones’ big farewell night.
It was only fitting that the Mets ruined the feel-good atmosphere in Atlanta on this night considering all the times Jones broke Mets’ fans hearts with countless clutch hits. At this point in the season where the Braves are preparing for the playoffs while the Mets will finish under .500 for the fourth straight season, this can only be considered a small consolation of solace. But when you can stick it to Jones one more time (in his final weekend in a Braves uniform), you do begin to believe in karma all the more. After all, Jones did go 0-4 in the game.
It wasn’t just that the Mets spoiled Jones’ night, it was how they did.
There were plenty of encouraging signs in the Mets’ 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. Let me count the ways:
- With the win, the Mets have now won seven out of their last eight games, while finishing up strong after a horrendous August and early September. Yes, too little too late perhaps, but refreshing nonetheless.
- As pointed out on the SNY telecast by Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez, Lucas Duda had perhaps his finest at-bat of the season-and the most clutch-where he calmly worked the count against Tim Hudson (who was cruising in the game) before belting a three-run home run that put the Mets ahead 3-1. It was a huge home run in so many ways, as this dinger can perhaps give Duda some much needed confidence as he prepares to work himself into a more featured role next year.
- Jon Niese had another fine outing (7 IP 4 hits, 3 walks, 1 run and 3 K’s) and is putting the finishing touches on an encouraging second-half finish. For far too long the problem with Niese was that he would break down and or get injured in the second half. That has not been the case this year, as Niese is ending the season with a bang by throwing nine quality outings in his last 10 starts. His value is at an all-time high and he should make for a great middle-of-the-rotation pitcher for the Mets for years to come. Or Niese could be traded while his value is at its peak. Niese has set all-time highs in wins (13), innings (190), strikeouts (155), ERA (3.40), WHIP (1.17) and BAA (.241).
- The bullpen, specifically Bobby Parnell, stepped up and closed a game in convincing fashion. Parnell, once again (yeah I know, stop me if you have heard this before) has looked like he has turned the corner and has now locked down two saves in consecutive days (with Thursday’s save of huge significance considering it was R.A. Dickey’s 20th win). In his last nine appearances (spanning 8.1 innings), Parnell has allowed no runs on only four hits and two walks while striking out five batters.
If the Mets want to have a solid, dependable bullpen next year, they are going to need Parnell at the top of his game. So, it’s nice to see Parnell come up big in these last few games.
While trying to search for silver linings in a season that has been marred by some otherwise ugly stretches, it’s nice to see the Mets knock Jones off his perch for a day while also showing some positive signs in the process. On a night where it was supposed to be all about Jones, it was the play of Niese, Duda and Parnell that was the story on this night.
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