Mets 5, Braves 0
In a season full of key injuries and negative financial news,
the New York Mets have found a bright spot: Dillon Gee.
The unheralded rookie is pitching like an ace.
Gee outdueled Jair Jurrjens to remain unbeaten this season and
Jose Reyes hit a bases-loaded triple, leading New York past the
Atlanta Braves 5-0 on Saturday night.
”I was really impressed because it was a game that we needed
some zeros,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. ”He’s proved that
he can pitch at this level and have success. All he does is give
you quality outings.”
Pinch-hitter Jason Pridie snapped a scoreless tie with an RBI
single in the seventh and the Mets took advantage of an error by
shortstop Alex Gonzalez to score five times in the inning.
New York’s struggling bullpen finally preserved a lead, too,
with Pedro Beato and Tim Byrdak combining for two perfect innings
to close it out.
”Better than the last few I watched,” Collins said.
The Mets set an unwanted major league record Friday night: Their
last six home losses have all come in games in which they led in
the seventh inning. The bullpen had a 10.57 ERA over the previous
Gee (6-0) won his fourth straight start, needing only 85 pitches
to get through seven innings before he was lifted for a
pinch-hitter. Showing smarts and poise again, he allowed four hits
and walked two while finishing with a pair of strikeouts.
”He was definitely on top of his game. He was basically doing
anything he wanted tonight,” Braves slugger Chipper Jones said.
”Fastball in and out. Changeup, bottom dropping out of the
changeup. Cutter, which is something we were seeing for the first
time. Just really, really kept us off balance.”
Indeed, Gee said he fiddled with a cutter while warming up in
the bullpen and used it in a game for the first time. He threw five
of them and got three outs with that pitch.
Gee became the first rookie in club history to win his first six
decisions in a season as a starter. Jon Matlack, the 1972 NL Rookie
of the Year, opened 6-0 with one win out of the bullpen.
”I think the confidence factor is really good right now,” Gee
said. ”I’m glad to be helping the team. I don’t read too much into
it. I’m pitching to contact, changing speeds.”
The right-hander had to be sharp in his matchup with Jurrjens,
the National League pitcher of the month for May. The two of them
came in with the top winning percentages in the league.
New York has won all eight of Gee’s starts this season, making
him the only pitcher who has made at least five starts without his
team losing any of them.
”He’s good. He’s moving the ball in and out, up. He changed
speeds,” Jurrjens said. ”Everybody’s really about throwing hard
these days, but what Gee did today, that’s pitching.”
Jurrjens (7-2) was cruising along until his defense let him down
in the seventh.
With one out, slumping Jason Bay hit a grounder to Gonzalez and
the normally sure-handed shortstop fumbled it as he tried to make
the transfer from his glove to his throwing hand.
It was Gonzalez’s fourth error of the season.
”We blinked today. You can’t get mad at Gonzo because he’s
saved our butts for a lot of games,” Atlanta manager Fredi
Josh Thole followed with a double to right and Jurrjens grazed
Ruben Tejada’s uniform top with a pitch, loading the bases. Pridie
punched a broken-bat single to right to put New York ahead 1-0.
Scott Proctor came on and Reyes ripped an 0-1 pitch into the
right-field corner for his major league-leading 10th triple,
prompting Citi Field fans to chant his name.
One night earlier, Reyes made a crucial error that allowed
Atlanta to tie the game in the eighth inning of a 6-3 victory. A
few innings before that, about 800 fans met on a pedestrian bridge
beyond the right-center wall to cheer Reyes and urge Mets
management to keep the All-Star shortstop, who can become a free
agent after the season.
”He’s an amazing player,” Pridie said. ”We’ve had a tough
little run in this homestand, so it was great to tack on a few
Justin Turner added a sacrifice fly, making it 5-0.
The Braves dropped to 13-7 at Citi Field and failed again in
their third attempt to move a season-high seven games over
New York improved to 4-5 on its 10-game homestand.
Jurrjens allowed four runs – three earned – and six hits in 6
1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked none. His major
league-best ERA rose from 1.51 to 1.75.
”He was pitching really well and I just wanted to keep us right
there,” Gee said.
In his first nine starts this season, Jurrjens had gone at least
six innings and not allowed more than two earned runs. The Braves
said the only other pitchers in major league history to do that
were Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 12 games last year, Randy Johnson
(2000) and Lefty Gomez (1937), according to the Elias Sports
NOTES: Fredi Gonzalez said Jones will be rested Sunday night and
LF Martin Prado will move to 3B. … Collins acknowledged the Mets
probably made an error in judgment when they let 3B David Wright
keep playing for nearly a month with a stress fracture in his lower
back. Wright has been on the disabled list since May 16 and won’t
be able to do any baseball activities for another three weeks.