Three Cuts: Braves busted by Mets, suffer 3rd straight loss

Of his last 12 starts, dating back to June 25, Braves southpaw Alex Wood (six strikeouts  vs. the Mets; 3.09 seasonal ERA) has surrendered just three or less earned runs 10 times.

Brad Penner

Of Wood’s last 10 outings (including Tuesday), dating back to July 6, the Braves have scored a total of 33 runs — and that includes a 7- and 8-spot against the Athletics and Phillies, respectively.

It’s a wonder the second-year southpaw only has a 3-4 record in that span.

On Tuesday, Wood weathered an early torrent, allowing an RBI single in the second inning and then surrendering a two-run homer to center fielder Juan Lagares in the 4th, boosting the Mets’ lead to 3-1.

After that, Wood (3.09 seasonal ERA) ruled the roost, retiring his final 12 batters before handing the baton to Jordan Walden (three straight outs). All told, the Braves starter allowed just three runs and five hits, while posting six strikeouts over seven strong innings (one walk).

Atlanta registered more hits and walks — but fewer first-pitch strikes and actual strikeouts — than New York’s hitters, but the Braves were ultimately undone by two things:

a) The lack of a timely hit against Mets starter Dillon Gee.

b) Three double plays (two from Chris Johnson, one from Evan Gattis) that effectively killed three potential rallies.

Even with its modest two-game slide, Washington (75-56, best record in the Senior Circuit) remains on pace for 93 wins, meaning Atlanta (68-64) would have to go 25-5 down the stretch … just for the honor of tying the Nationals for the NL East crown.

So really, why even go there? Especially since the Nationals pitchers have yielded five-plus runs just three times since Aug. 9 (spanning 17 games).

Atlanta Braves: Up Next

No, the Braves’ primary focus should be landing one of the coveted wild-card slots; and during the pregame airing of Braves LIVE, it was good to see manager Fredi Gonzalez acknowledge how his club is fully aware of where it stands … and where it may be going come the first week of October.

At the time of this writing, St. Louis (71-60, WC #1) and San Francisco (68-62, WC #2) hold slim advantages over Atlanta and Pittsburgh (identical 68-64 marks) for the wild-card slots.

It’s worth mentioning here (again and again): Of their final 19 games, the Giants are staring at 13 eminently doable dates with the Diamondbacks (55-76) and Padres (60-70) — bottom feeders in the National League.

In other words, the Braves absolutely cannot afford to keep losing to teams that are on the path to nowhere — aside from developing prospects and creating a false momentum buzz for next year.

It could be Atlanta’s true downfall, when taking stock of this club six weeks from now.