Mets never trail in series-opening win over rival Braves

 

Prior to Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Braves at Citi Field Tuesday night, manager Terry Collins stated unequivocally that the Mets were beginning the player evaluation process for 2014.

“There’s six weeks left but as I’ve said, we’ve still got the Braves, we’ve got games against the Nationals who are still fighting, games against Cincinnati, we [have] games against a lot of teams that are still in the [playoff] hunt,” Collins said. “So we’re going to learn a lot. We’re not going to see No. 75 and 76 like you do in spring training. We’re going to see the everyday regular lineup, so it’s guys who are still competing for something.”

While jobs for next season will not be earned in one game, Collins had to be pleased with what he saw last night as the Mets never trailed against the NL East-leading Braves.

Ike Davis’s first-inning RBI single plated Eric Young Jr. with the Mets’ first run. Young had reached on Chris Johnson’s throwing error and advanced to second with a steal.

The Mets’ lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth. Brian McCann’s throwing error allowed Young to score the Mets’ second run. With Young on second and Daniel Murphy on first, Collins called for a double steal. McCann’s throw got past Paul Janish, which allowed Young to score. The next batter, Marlon Byrd, slammed a two-run home run off of Brandon Beachy (2-1).

Davis added a solo homer in the eighth. Later in the inning, Travis d’Arnaud recorded his first major-league hit, a double off of Luis Ayala.

Young went 1-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases. Since being acquired from the Rockies on June 18, Young has 20 steals in 54 games. Along with bringing a speed element, Young has been strong defensively left field. Last night, his diving catch on McCann’s sinking liner ended the sixth.

“The big thing is us all working together,” Byrd said about the vastly improved outfield defense. “[It is about] knowing the scouting report, being in position.”

Zack Wheeler struck out five in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 6-3. Three of Wheeler’s six wins have come against Atlanta. He allowed six hits and three runs — all earned — even though he was not in the game when the Braves scored. Collins pulled Wheeler, who threw 114 pitches against the Braves, after he walked Jason Heyward to load the bases in the seventh. Andrelton Simmons greeted Wheeler’s replacement, Carlos Torres, with a three-run double to cut the Mets lead to 4-3.

“I feel pretty comfortable against them. [Not bashing them, but] it’s an easy game. I guess we play them more often so we get to see them a little bit more. I’ve watched them a good bit. I don’t know, I’m having success [against the Braves],” Wheeler said. “I’ve been pitching with my fastball a lot lately and it’s been working well [so] I stuck to the game plan.”

Simmons’s double was as close as the Braves would get. Scott Rice, Gonzalez German and LaTroy Hawkins yielded just one hit in the final 2 1/3 innings. Hawkins threw a perfect ninth to record his fifth save.

Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.


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