Three Cuts: Hale, bullpen thrive in Braves’ marathon loss to Mets
It’s not everyday that a major league bullpen gets taxed for 7.2 innings in a nip-and-tuck affair, but that’s how things went down in the series finale.
Ian Thomas, David Carpenter, Luis Avilan, Anthony Varvaro and Gus Schlosser surrendered just one run and three hits — with the latter allowing zero hits over three-plus frames.
Schlosser’s ultimate demise, however, came in the 14th, giving up two walks, throwing one wild pitch and yielding a game-winning sacrifice fly to Curtis Granderson (more on him later), whose fly ball was just deep enough to score Kirk Nieuwenhuis from third base.
On the plus side, Schlosser collected his first major league hit … so there’s that.
With Mike Minor (four rehab starts in April) reportedly slated for a Saturday start in the bigs (against the Reds), the Braves will presumably keep their starting rotation at five — meaning either Alex Wood (2-2, 1.67 ERA, 24/7 K-BB), Aaron Harang (0.70 ERA, 0.82 WHIP) or Hale (two earned runs, five strikeouts vs. the Mets) would move to the bullpen … or make starts at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Better yet, it would presumably make Wood available for postseason starts (if applicable) — something that wasn’t in the cards for Stephen Strasburg in 2012, after the Nationals exhausted his innings cap of 160 by early September … and then shut him down for the remainder of the season.
(Washington ended up losing to St. Louis in that year’s National League Division Series.)
The Braves, who take on the Marlins and Reds at home this week, get an off day on Thursday, meaning that Hale could be pinched out of the rotation by the weekend.
To his credit, he pitched well enough to win on Sunday; and who knows, if Dan Uggla doesn’t commit an error in the sixth inning — with Atlanta holding a 3-2 lead at the time — perhaps Hale becomes the second Braves pitcher to post three seasonal victories (along with Harang).
In the postgame media scrum, Hale was coy about his rotation status for the coming weeks.
"(The team) hasn’t told us anything … just do the best you can and put the ball in their court. See what happens," said Hale, who has allowed just six earned runs in five career MLB starts.
It’s hard to grasp Granderson’s knee-jerk rationale after fielding Jason Heyward’s base hit. The pitcher Hale, running from first to third base on contact, was not a threat to score — especially with the Braves trailing by two with just one out.
In other words, Mets pitcher Zach Wheeler (backing up the catcher) had zero chance of halting the ball before it careened into the visiting dugout — allowing for Hale to score and Heyward (three hits on Sunday) to advance to third base.
Adding to the ignominy, the mere mention of Granderson’s name on the p.a. speaker elicited boos from the Citi Field faithful, who are undoubtedly aware of Granderson’s success with the Yankees from 2010-13 (115 homers, 307 RBI, 55 steals) … but not necessarily privy to Granderson’s wretched numbers at his new home stadium — two homers, six RBI and a .117 batting average.