Bartolo Strikes Back: Colon sharp in return to New York, Atlanta Braves pick up first win of 2017

Apr 5, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) flips the ball in the air as he pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2017; New York City, NY, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Bartolo Colon (40) flips the ball in the air as he pitches against the New York Mets during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

Slim Matt Kemp doubles three times, while Bartolo was all we could’ve hoped for and more in his Atlanta Braves debut.

Somebody pinch me, I get to recap the first regular-season start of Bartolo Colon’s Atlanta Braves career.  

That was my first thought upon the unveiling of the rotation, and I stand by it after Big Sexy pitched himself quite the ballgame. I mean, it wasn’t nice enough to not get pulled for Emilio Freakin’ Bonifacio after 80 pitches, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

But despite some… curious… personnel decisions (see examples below) and an offense that was anemic for much of the night, Matt Kemp’s bat provided all the difference the Atlanta Braves would need to topple the Metropolitans, 3-1, at Citi Field.

Colon was sharp from the outset, matching young phenom Jacob deGrom pitch-for-pitch. The Round Mound of Shutdown’s lone surrendered run wasn’t even a mistake—to leadoff the Mets fifth, Jay Bruce went down to get one and jussssssst barely coaxed it over the right-center wall for the game’s first run.

Low and inside may not be optimal when your fastball typically resides in the mid-to-upper 80s, but location was fine and Bruce, for his part, put a solid swing on the thing—and Colon, for his part, was touching 90 on the gun all night, including on the pitch to Bruce.

deGrom was chugging along fine as wine, but was lifted after 90 pitches under Terry Collins’ bizarre “I don’t like it when my best pitchers pitch the most pitches in a close game” rule (turns out, Brian Snitker was a big fan of that rule too).  Mets relief pitcher Hansel Robles, as we found out, is no Jacob DeGrom.

A Nick Markakis triple, a Brandon Phillips walk and double from Adonis Garcia plated the Atlanta Braves first run of the season and after Robles hit Kurt Suzuki to load the bases, the Braves looked poised to pile on more.

The Decision To Enter Emilio Bonifacio

It is usually unfair to question the lifting of a pitcher in a big spot in a tight game early in the season, and it’s usually unfair to really call into question the manager’s rationale for who he chooses to put in if he does elect to make a switch.  But heavens to Moses, HOW WAS EMILIO BONIFACIO THE ONLY OPTION IN THAT SPOT?

We have so much evidence available to us that leads to one unquestionable conclusion: Bonifacio can’t hit a lick. He’s fast and he can sort of play multiple positions well, but he’s probably the 12th or 13th guy you’d want up in that spot—I’d rather pinch hit Julio Teheran.

Boni struck out, of course, flailing helplessly on an 88-mile per hour “heater” (I know classified that as a sinker, but I’m pretty sure it was just dropping because it had run out of steam), and then Ender Inciarte grounded out to end the Braves best chance for a big inning thus far in 2017.

Bartolo could’ve struck out on a mid-80s fastball, and we at least might’ve gotten a fun GIF out of it.  At least a guy who had scattered two hits over six innings wouldn’t have hit the showers after 80 pitches.

Oh, and good point here @Jervass

Continuing a Wednesday night tradition from last year, this game went long, into extra innings. Feel free to blame me (next Wednesday’s game will be delayed due to locust).

After trading zeroes in the 10th, the Braves put runners on the corners with one away in the 11th… and then Adonis Garcia grounded into a double play.

Braves Rally Late!

Fortunately for Atlanta, the Mets entire offense was butt too on Wednesday evening.

The Braves finally plated two in the 12th on Kemp’s third double of the night, scoring Suzuki who singled) and Inciarte (who walked).

What a game from Mathew Kemp!  He already has four doubles in the 2017 season.

Braves offense was pretty quiet on Wednesday, but they did total eight hits and six walks.  The Mets had only five hits and three walks.  The Braves deserved to win this game on stats alone.

Inciarte is still looking for his first hit of the season as he went 0-5 at the plate.  Freddie Freeman struggled tonight as he couldn’t stay away from Neil Walker at second base…grounded out to him three straight times.

Jim Johnson went two innings (the 11th and 12th innings) and slammed the door to give the Heroes of the Tomahawk their first victory of 2017.

The Braves used five pitchers in this extra inning bout.  Ian Krol, Arodys Vizcaino, Jose Ramirez and Jim Johnson all came out of the pen to pitch six scoreless innings.  The four of them gave up three hits and two walks combined.

Bullpen looked a lot better tonight then Monday.

17. Final. 1. 3. 3

Next: Smoke Comin'

Jaime Garcia toes the slab for the Atlanta Braves Thursday night against Matt Harvey. The Braves look for their first series win in 2017 at 7:10 p.m. (ET).  Rain, rain go away!