Three (im)pertinent thoughts from the Atlanta Braves’ home opener — a 4-0 loss to the last-place Mets.
1. The starting pitcher remains stellar, somehow. The journeyman Aaron Harang (career record: 111-117) yielded two hits and one run in six innings after yielding two hits and no runs in 6 2/3 last week in Milwaukee. Those are quality starts, people, and they’re coming at a needed time, what with the Braves scrambling to fill out a rotation. Harang was maybe more impressive in this one than in his win over the Brewers, in which he carried a no-hitter into the seventh. He struck out nine Mets, and the only run he yielded was the result of a walk, a sacrifice and a wild pitch.
2. The hitting remains tepid. The Braves have lost three games. In those, they’ve scored a total of one run. On Tuesday they were shut out over seven innings by the aging heavyweight George Foreman … er, Bartolo Colon. He yielded six hits, five of them singles. The Braves pushed a runner to second base only twice against Colon, who’s 40 and is listed at 285 pounds. And even after the combustible Jose Valverde did his best to aid and abet the Braves in the ninth, yielding two hits and making a throwing error on what should have been a game-ending double play, the Braves couldn’t avail themselves. Gerald Laird popped out with the bases loaded, and then Jason Heyward flied out to deep center field to end it. Heyward went 0-for-5 and is batting .107.
3. Speaking of tepid, there’s B.J. Upton. He went 1-for-4 — yay, a two-out single! — and raised (that’s correct) his batting average to a lusty .139. He also raised his strikeout total to a team-leading 13. But what’s that you’re saying? That he’s in there for his glove? Not so fast, my friend. The Mets’ second and third runs came in a seventh inning that began with Travis d’Arnaud, who’d been 0-for-15 entering the game, lifting a ball into left-center. Justin Upton, who plays left field, wound up being the only Upton to give determined chase. B.J. Upton was content to back up the play, even though he appeared to have the better chance to make a play. It fell for a double.
From myajc.com, our premium site: Forty years later, Hank Aaron remains the greatest Brave.