Braves blank Mets 2-0, Minor completes strong 2nd half

Martin Prado doubled and scored in the first inning and doubled to drive in a run in the fifth, which was more than enough run support for Braves pitcher Mike Minor.

The young left-hander finished his impressive second half by limiting the Mets to three hits in 6-1/3 innings of a 2-0 win Saturday night at Turner Field, the sixth win in seven games for the Braves. But they trail NL East leader Washington by four games with only four to play.

The Nationals beat St. Louis 6-4 in 10 innings late Saturday, clinching at least a share of the division title and reducing their magic number to one to clinch the title outright. One more Washington win or one Braves loss will give Washington the NL East championship.

“Everybody’s watching [the scoreboard] to see what’s going on,” Braves catcher Brian McCann said before the Nationals-Cardinals game was completed. “It’s just part of the game. We’re already in the Wild Card game and we’re already playing at home. We’d like to win the division, so we’ve got to hope they [Nationals] lose.”

Atlanta already secured a wild-card berth and would host the Cardinals in the Wild Card game Friday for the right to advance to a division series, where Minor could start Game 2 after Tim  Hudson starts the opener.

The Mets didn’t advance a runner to second base until the seventh inning against Minor (11-10), who is 5-0 in his past seven starts including 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA and .129 opponents’ average in his past five.

“Outstanding,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’ll be his last start of the regular season’ what a hell of a way to go.”

The crowd of 48,310 was the fourth sellout of the season at Turner Field and second in as many nights, and a lot of those folks grew concerned in the ninth when the Mets put two runners on against closer Craig Kimbrel after a Dan Uggla error, a wild pitch and a hit-by-pitch that stung David Wright and the umpire as well.

But Kimbrel struck out the next two batters, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, for his National League-leading 41st save.

The Braves are 11-3 with a 2.01 ERA in their past 14 games, and Minor has won all three of his starts in that period. He’s allowed just 12 hits and three runs in 31 innings over his last five games, and three hits by the Mets were the second-most he’s allowed in that stretch.

“I was kind of excited that we got the win tonight, and also that I’m not even anymore,” Minor said. “I’m 11-10, so that’s a winning record this season. That was big for me.”

It’s truly been a tale of two seasons for Minor, who has a 2.21 ERA and .193 opponents’ average in 15 starts since the beginning of July, after posting a 6.20 ERA and .271 opponents’ average in 15 starts through the end of June.

“I think his turning point was the game against the Yankees at home,” McCann said, referring to a June 12 game when Minor allowed five hits, one run and one walk in 7-1/3 innings against New York.  “He came out and attacked them and trusted his stuff. Once he got through the Yankees and showed himself that he could do that, he could get through anybody.

“I think it was a real confidence boost for him, and since then he’s been as good as the come in baseball, really. He’s been one of the better pitchers in the game the second half, and it’s good to see him keep getting better and better.”

Wright’s ground-rule double with one out in the seventh made him the first to reach second against Minor, at which point Gonzalez went to his bullpen, which was without Eric O’Flaherty on Saturday due to back stiffness.

Chad Durbin got Scott Hairston to fly out and rookie lefty Luis Avilan struck out Duda with a runner at third to end the seventh inning, after Avilan balked the runner to third when he slipped during his delivery on a previous pitch.

The Braves have won 11 of their past 13 games against the Mets and have a 11-6 record against them entering Sunday’s series finale. Atlanta will close the regular season with a three-game series at Pittsburgh starting Monday.

Prado’s two doubles raised his league-leading total to 60 multi-hit games and his doubles total to 42, also among the NL’s top five. He’s hit .391 with 27 hits in his past 17 games to raise his average to .305.

He’s been the most consistent hitter on a Braves team that hasn’t reached double-digits in hits in any of its past 10 games, and scored three runs or fewer seven times in that period.

“For the most part our offense had been kind of in spurts,” Gonzalez said. “Anything concerns you this time of year. A little banged up, injuries, not scoring any runs…. It’s a little bit concerning but we scored a run today with a double, a wild pitch and a get-him-in on a ground ball by [Jason] Heyward, so we’ll get it going.”

Both of Prado’s doubles came with two strikes, which should not come as a surprise. He’s among the majors’ best hitters with two strikes, with a .291 average. Among Braves lineup regulars, the next-best two-strike average before Saturday belonged to Chipper Jones (.206).

Prado actually has more doubles (25), more homers (six) and more RBIs (38) with two strikes than he does with less than two strikes. He swings at just 8 percent of first pitches, the fewest among NL hitters.

Prado doubled with one out in the first inning off Mets right-hander Chris Young (4-9) on a 1-2 pitch after taking two called strikes. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Heyward’s groundout for a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, Andrelton Simmons led off with a single and advanced on Minor’s sacrifice bunt. After Jose Constanza struck out, Prado doubled off the left-center wall on an 0-2 pitch, missing a home run by about two feet.

41 comments Add your comment

Miami Dave

September 29th, 2012
9:50 pm

Not this time! Way to go Braves!

Roland G

September 29th, 2012
9:51 pm

Cannot believe tat tomorrow is Chipper’s last regular home game…. Thanks for the memories!

Jimmy

September 29th, 2012
9:53 pm

Looking good Braves!!!! let’s take the series tomorrow!

reckingball

September 29th, 2012
9:54 pm

lee maye

September 29th, 2012
10:19 pm

Teams are beginning to throw 1st pitch fastballs down the middle, to Prado every time. He needs to swing the bat on the first pitch more, and he might hit .330 and win a batting title. If Prado swings the bat and protects Constanza tonight, he is in easily on a steal.

JEB

September 29th, 2012
10:24 pm

Hudson – Minor – Medlin = These three in a row are dangerous in any short series right now!!

braveslover

September 29th, 2012
10:43 pm

Couple of at bats for the old man tomorrow and call it a day. Couple of days off in Pittsburg and he will be ready for Friday. Go Braves.

Chop Chop

September 29th, 2012
11:06 pm

Nats won. Magic number for the division is one. Get ready for wild-card craziness.

BryceH

September 29th, 2012
11:58 pm

BryceH

September 29th, 2012
11:58 pm

Quack Quack

September 30th, 2012
12:03 am

Our task is to just keep on winning.The Gnats and SL seem to be struggling. Lets just stay strong.

Agree with DOB, to just keep the pedal to the metal, and only rest the hurt. Everybody else will step-up.

GO BRAVES!!!

GTMike14

September 30th, 2012
12:53 am

Hey FG, I’ve been to two games at the Ted where you left Huddy in too long and watched one the other night where you did it again. He’s ‘baseball’ old. Give him 5 innings and give it to a good bullpen. Let’s see, three more potential wins lost by the manager. Wow one game back with 4 to play! If…

erubi

September 30th, 2012
5:22 am

2012 MVP – Martin Prado!

Winger

September 30th, 2012
5:49 am

Go away BriceH.

Greg

September 30th, 2012
6:45 am

Nats wrap it up against Cards today. Braves feasting on minor league teams the last week will give them a false sense of confidence. Beware of the play-in game. They’ll finally see a real team. Like playing cupcakes in college basketball until the conference games pick up in January. Braves are like the Clemsom Tigers of ACC ball.

[...] Braves blank Mets 2-0, Minor completes strong 2nd half [...]

Keith

September 30th, 2012
8:17 am

Minor does seem to me to be the Division GAme 2 starter if we can sneak past the one game and the returning champion Cardinals who won’t be easy to beat.

Honestly, in the 2nd half, Minor has been better than Huddy but Huddy is the veterans so gets the nod.

GO BRAVES! :)

PaulG

September 30th, 2012
8:25 am

Poor Greg….you don’t understand how it works….all good teams feast on the poor teams & hope to play 500 vs their peers…braves are no exception to Darwin’s baseball law

Matt

September 30th, 2012
8:53 am

Interesting that you have Minor starting a potential Game 2 in the NLDS. I totally agree with this because of the home/away configuration. Much more likely to have success. Not to mention Minor is deadline. Hope Fredi does this…

Matt

September 30th, 2012
8:57 am

Greg, the Nats aren’t exactly tearing it up recently either-go read DOB’s column about it. They remind me of every Braves team that gagged in the first round (except the Braves never had to shut down one of their aces due to their own incompetence in managing). No matter who wins the game Friday, Cards or Braves, I would say that team is the favorite against the Nats after they Strasburged themselves.

Davey Sprocket

September 30th, 2012
9:01 am

Poor Paul G. – Good teams fo NOT simply hope to play .500 ball against other good teams. Be like the Naitonals who have dominated the Reds, blew a couple against Atl but still took the season series, smacked the Giants around. THAT is how you are a very good team – until the little slowdown the past 20 games or so, they had a failry easy chance at 100 wins.
The Nationals actually have been consistent throught the entire season, being in first place for al but 10 days this season. If the Braves play “flip-a-coin” in the one-game playoff it could be a 2hour 50 minute playoff appearance for the ole Chipster.

BobbyDawg

September 30th, 2012
9:20 am

It gives me a good feeling to see our pitchers coming on strong as we come to the end of the regular season. I just hope they keep it up throughout the post season. GO BRAVES

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
9:24 am

Matt; good line; Nats strausburged themselves, HAHAHA Lol, gotta love it.

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
9:28 am

Seemed when it really came down to it, the Bravos played head to head w/ the nats the last time, lett’n em’ know we ain’ no push over. Kimbels heater resolved that pretty good. Clutch games, Clutch wins.

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
9:29 am

DANG; Left the “r” out of Kimbrel, my bad, fumble thumbs again.

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
9:33 am

& you know what, Post season means New season, everybody starts off 0 – 0. New life begins, even if it has to be one game playoff, Cards or Dodgers, don’t know who.

Randal Patrick McMurphy

September 30th, 2012
9:55 am

Congrats Chipper – a REAL milestone! Folks, it’ll be a LONG time before you see a player of any sport play for one organization for their entire professional career. It is the exception, and not the norm; a once-in-a-lifetime thing anymore! Like him or not, you really just have to stand applaud him! Be a helluva send-off with a Ring… ;-)

Enjoy your kids & retirement – you’ve earned it, Sir!

Mike Lewis

September 30th, 2012
10:04 am

Now, aren’t we glad that old GM (Wren) didn’t give away Minor, like so many doubters wanted to do, to get “any” bat? He was a dominant LHP in college and it was a matter of time (and seasoning) before he would be in MLB. Any good LHP is worth is weight in gold in baseball…if he is dominant like Minor can be, he is worth twice his weight. Sometimes the best trade you make is the one you refuse.

Finally, Braves management (brass and manager) saw in Medlin what some of us “amateurs” already knew…he is a winner…he drinks tiger blood…Kris “da Sheen” Medlin….he is a bulldog not unlike Greg Maddux was, without the pedigree. Great decision. Even if you claim it was to “protect” his arm, unlike the Nats did with Starsburg (yeah, right). Note: I typed Starsburg instead of Strasburg (by accident) but, hey, that ain’t a bad nickname for the phenom!

Good luck to all of the Braves next week and thank you Chipper for your service to the Braves Nation! We have loved you since your beginnings here in Macon in 1991. Go Braves!

Paddy

September 30th, 2012
10:10 am

GTMike14…..you are he ultimate arm chair manager. How about when Bobby Cox didn’t bunt in the 8th inning @ Wrigley back in May of 1998? Guess you would have fired him on the spot? And you are the expert becauce you have been to 2 games this year! What a Maroon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe

September 30th, 2012
10:51 am

Why do so many of you misspell the names of key people in the Braves’ organization? I keep seeing Medlen spelled “Medlin”, and Fredi Gonzalez spelled “Freddi”. Do you folks watch the games? I realize that it’s not an overly important detail, but it demonstrates a real lack of attention to detail, which bugs me. I hope you pay more attention at key moments in life, like while driving a car, etc…

Cracker

September 30th, 2012
11:05 am

Thanks, Davey, for reminding us just how good the Nats have been this year. We all needed that. Now, it remains to be seen how good they are in post season play without one of their two best pitchers. Whoever they play will be throwing their top three pitchers, not necessarily the way it happens during the regular season. And the pressure will be greater than any of them except Werth has seen. (Is that right? Isn’t Werth the only Nat with post-season experience? I know that none of their three starters has ever pitched post season.) It’s a different kind of baseball. Davey Johnson manages with an American League mentality: hit the long ball. My hunch is that the Nats will go as far as their power hitters carry them.

Let’s give credit where it’s due: Stan Kasten built the Nats. We in Atl. remember how important Kasten was when he was President of all three pro sports franchises here. Now, he’s part owner of the Dodgers: quite a resume.

Rob

September 30th, 2012
11:12 am

Looks like a one game do-or-die playoff with the Cardinals…a good team…defending champions…not the bottom-feeders you’ve been beating…

least of the east

September 30th, 2012
11:19 am

the starting pitching has been excellent. I admit, I didn’t think Minor would be this good. Hanson is the only weak link now. he needs to skip his last start and have Sheets replace him. but Fredi G won’t do that because it makes sense.
Cards are hot so we may lose wild card playoff. I just hope Wainright doesn’t do it to us.
we need top pitching as the offense is very erratic. we need help from Bourn and Mc Cann soon.

J J

September 30th, 2012
11:38 am

WHERE’S THE OFFENSE?

Mike N/ATL

September 30th, 2012
12:15 pm

It has always been GREAT PITCHING that got the braves to the world series along with clutch hitting in the early 90’s. The braves have shown all of us that they have it to make it there. With all these shutouts they been pitching and the clutch hits, i have no dout that they can make far this postseason with that in place. Reminds me of the come back kids of the 90’s (especially what happened last year). Best braves team i’ve seen in years. Never giving up!!! Remembering that game againest the phillys in sept. Bottom of the 9th 2outs score is 7-3 and they came back to win it 8-7!! There for real and we should all enjoy all the excitement they have done all year long. GOTTA LOVE THEM!!!!!! GO BRAVES!!!!!

J J

September 30th, 2012
12:19 pm

Thet lead the league in leaving men on base. Enough said. Pitching will not beat Cardinals.

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
12:38 pm

Well Bravos, Dig down deep, rise to the occasion, had to do it against halliday when everyone said he’s too dominant to beat, you beat one of the games best relievers in palpabon w/ a chipper walk-off, you beat Gio when he was try’n to win #20 here, working the count against ‘em. Now you gotta keep work’n the count against any ace come post season, but that’s when everythings fresh, everyone is 0 – 0, post season is new season. Hey one & done, see if you can show who’s got more heart, let last september be fresh in you’re minds, feed off of it. It’s you against the world, cause the world say’s the cards are too much for ya, live on it, bring some shock n’ awe baby. Love doin’ someth’n that everybody else say’s can’t be done. Love it!

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
12:46 pm

I’m sure mlb, national media would already declared Cardinals take this one based on their world championship of last year, & rightfully so, they deserve it, they earned it, they shocked the world too, my shoes off to ‘em, bare’ feet to’em, & the prognosticaters haven’t hardly had good average in their predictions. But hey, that’s why they play the game.

J J

September 30th, 2012
1:02 pm

They will win. Put it in the bank. Braves don’t score enough runs. Cardinals8 Braves2. Season over.

74bravesjersey

September 30th, 2012
1:09 pm

New season, new focus, Braves might be a little hungrier for a win than people think.

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