Newly acquired pitcher Ben Sheets pitched six shutout innings in his first outing in two years to lead the Atlanta Braves to a 6-1 victory against the New York Mets on Sunday at Turner Field.
Sheets (1-0), who was signed on July 1 to a minor league contract, threw 57 of 88 pitches for strikes, allowed two hits, and struck out five Mets while giving up one walk to help Atlanta complete their three-game series sweep of New York. The former 1999 first-round draft pick’s latest outing was his first start on a major league mound since he pitched in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox on July 19, 2010 when he was a member of the Oakland A’s. The right-hander missed the entire 2011 season after recovering from surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and torn elbow ligament.
The Mets started Johan Santana (6-6), who has not beaten the Braves since Sept. 2, 2010, for the first time since July 6 when he twisted his ankle covering first base in an 8-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs. Santana, 33, pitched well until the fifth inning when he got shelled for six runs. Michael Bourn led off the scoring by bringing in Matt Diaz on an RBI-double, but the biggest blow came from a three-run homer by Freddie Freeman (12) that landed 433 feet from home plate and in the right field seats.
In the minds of Santana, pitching coach Dan Warthen, and Mets manager Terry Collins, home plate umpire C.B. Buckner is to blame for Atlanta’s offensive explosion in the fifth inning. Buckner created a questionable strike zone and allowed a very late timeout to Bourn on a slider that appeared to be a strike. On the next pitch, Bourn brought in the first run of the game with a double to left field. These events ignited tirades from both Warthen and Collins.
Following Bourn’s at-bat, Warthen left the dugout to talk to Santana and also scream at Buckner. Warthen was quickly ejected, but did not leave the mound before sharing words with crew chief Dale Scott. Collins came out to the mound to break up the verbal confrontation and also to share his thoughts. After things continued to escalate, bench coach Bob Geren headed to the mound to finally cool things off.
After Santana recorded the final out of the inning, the Mets starter jawed at Buckner as he crossed the third baseline and walked into the dugout. Buckner signaled to the pitcher to cut it out.
After his June 1 no-hitter against St. Louis, Santana has won three of his last seven starts, recorded a 5.45 ERA, and allowed opposing batters to hit 11 home runs. Sunday was the first time since 2000, Santana’s rookie season, that the 11-year-veteran allowed six-plus runs in consecutive starts.
With this latest win, the Braves have won seven straight contests, taken a 5-4 season series lead against the Mets, and improved to a season-high 10 games over .500, 49-39. Atlanta will remain at home to face Barry Zito (7-6) and the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
New York has lost five of its last six games and will travel north to Washington D.C. to face the N.L. East division leaders, the Washington Nationals.
About the Author
Written by Jourdan Shepard
New York born. New Jersey bred. Earned my degree on a Georgia clay hill. "Rooting for my rival is like wanting the house to win in blackjack...."