Suzuki’s 3-run Homer Lifts Braves to Win

Landing at LaGuardia Airport this week with a six-game losing streak in tow, the Braves needed something to jolt them out of their recent malaise — and quickly.

The Mets gave it to them in the form of their own miserable week, which included a pair of defeats and the losses of their two biggest stars. Starting in place of injured pitcher Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey gave up a season-high six runs — including a game-breaking three-run homer to Kurt Suzuki — in Atlanta’s 7-5 win over the Mets.
Superstar Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes also departed in the fourth inning with a hamstring injury, further crippling a Mets club that has lost six straight games, and 10 of 11. The Braves have swept the Mets at Citi Field three times in the last 10 months.
Suzuki’s homer was the biggest blow, knocking Harvey out of the game after only 4 1/3 innings. But the Braves also took advantage of a career-high-tying five walks from Harvey, who did not learn until around 10 a.m. Thursday that he would be starting.
“I wasn’t really physically prepared for starting today,” Harvey said, noting that he took part in a heavy weightlifting session one day prior. “Having those workouts that I did yesterday and the throwing that I did yesterday, I just definitely wasn’t prepared.”
The Mets stayed in the game until late thanks to a two-run rally off R.A. Dickey in the fourth inning, and a Jose Reyes homer in the fifth, but were unable to do enough damage against a quartet of Braves relievers. Dickey — pitching at Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him to the Blue Jays in December 2012, which brough Syndergaard to New York — departed after only five innings and 67 pitches due to a left quad spasm.
“I’ve got to be honest, it was pretty anticlimactic,” Dickey said. “No Syndergaard. All the storylines that were built up weren’t there. But this win was really fun, such a community win.”
Visibly upset after allowing a game-tying passed ball in the bottom of the fourth, Suzuki came to bat in the fifth with two men on base and a chip on his shoulder — particularly after Harvey intentionally walked Nick Markakis to face him instead. Suzuki then launched an 88-mph Harvey slider over the left-field fence, giving the Braves a 6-2 lead.
“It’s great,” Dickey said. “I felt like that was some poetry. The guy scored to tie the game. The first chance [Suzuki] gets, he absolves that.”
Harvey’s velocity dipped notably in the second inning, bottoming out at 91 mph on both his two- and four-seam fastballs. Worse, Harvey couldn’t deliver those pitches over the plate with any consistency. He walked three batters in the second inning, allowing the first two to score on a Jace Peterson RBI single and a Dickey run-scoring groundout. Harvey finished with five walks, his most in a game since July 2015.
“All of the sudden the command was gone, the velocity was down, the sharpness was down,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.
Harvey generated just five swings and misses in 86 pitches, resulting in a 5.8 whiff percentage that ranked second-lowest of any single game in his five-year career. Coming into Thursday, Harvey’s 9.8-percent season whiff rate was also the lowest of his career.
The Braves will have right-hander Bartolo Colon (1-2, 4.50 ERA) on the mound and hope to have second baseman Brandon Phillips back in their lineup for Friday night’s 7:10 p.m. CT game against the Brewers at Miller Park. Right-hander Chase Anderson (2-0, 1.13 ERA) starts for the Brewers.