Paul freaking Maholm. This is the man who is going to lead the Atlanta Braves into the playoffs. Seriously, look at the pitchers on their disabled list. Brandon Beachy, Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens are all out of commission, and yet the Braves just keep on ticking.
Yeah, they got really lucky with Ben Sheets (and yet, any team could have), but you have to give general manager Frank Wren credit for going out and getting a quality Cubs pitcher even after his plans to acquire Ryan Dempster fell through. Last night, Maholm spun a three-hit complete game shutout in which he allowed zero walks while striking out five.
Maholm did a tremendous job keeping his pitches low in the zone, inducing 14 ground ball outs including two double plays. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez was impressed.
“Masterful performance. I mean, this guy’s throwing 88-90, in and out with his fastball. Threw some curveballs in on right-handers, made some nice pitches on change-ups and also curveballs. And we played some nice defense behnd him.”
Maholm only threw 95 pitches last night. Meanwhile, Mets starter Matt Harvey needed 101 pitches just to go six innings in his home debut. The phenom walked five batters in the first three innings, and in the first he allowed a two-run homer to Jason Heyward.
However, the last three innings Harvey pitched saw him strike out three Braves without walking anyone. Manager Terry Collins said it was good to see Harvey settle down and not completely lose control of the game.
“I was very impressed,” said manager Terry Colins. “Especially after the second inning and he had thrown almost 60 pitches. To settle down like he did was good to see. When his pitch count got high he pitched to contact more and saw how effective that can be.”
The Braves didn’t score again until Dan Uggla slugged a two-run homer to center against lefty specialist Josh Edgin in the eighth inning. Edgin has a 2.06 WHIP against righties this season, but Collins chose to leave him in to pitch to the right-handed Uggla because of the lefty Juan Francisco looming on deck. It’s a defensible decision; Edgin just needs to be more careful the next time he’s left in against a right-handed power bat.
Here’ s the box score. Ramon Ramirez and Bobby Parnell each pitched a scoreless inning for the Mets, while Jon Rauch pitched to one batter, getting David Ross to ground out in the eighth. Ronny Cedeño had the worst game ever with two strikeouts and a GIDP.
Tonight the Mets hope for better luck against Atlanta. Johan Santana makes his return to the mound while Kris Medlen gets the nod for the Braves. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. You can follow me on Twitter @apy5000 for more Mets fun.