Walks Undermine Newcomb, Braves in 7-1 Loss to Mets

Sean Newcomb has shown much promise in his first 3 ½ months in the major leagues, but the walks are something the hard-throwing Braves left-hander must get a handle on before he can expect to fully realize his potential.

Newcomb walked the leadoff hitter in the last three of his five innings of work Wednesday night against the Mets, including pitcher Robert Gsellman to start a two-run fifth inning that gave the Mets a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 7-1 series-finale win at Citi Field.

They blew the game open with a Dominic Smith three-run homer off beleaguered Braves reliever Jim Johnson in a four-run seventh inning, all the runs unearned following a two-out fielding error by Freddie Freeman. Yes, it turned into an ugly night for the Bravos.

Johnson recorded two outs and was charged with four unearned runs, two hits and two walks, the last run on his ledger scored when Ian Krol gave up an RBI double to the first batter he faced, Jose Reyes.

The Mets took three of four in the series and 12 of 19 this season from the Braves, who need to split a season-ending four-game series against the Marlins that starts Thursday in Miami if they are to avoid a third consecutive 90-loss season.

Newcomb (4-9) gave up four hits, three runs and four walks with seven strikeouts in five innings, all the runs scoring in the fourth and fifth innings including the leadoff hitter he walked in each of those frames.

It was the final start of the season for Newcomb, who finishes with a 4.32 ERA and 108 strikeouts with an alarming 57 walks in 101 innings.

Ozzie Albies’ RBI single in the third gave the Braves a 1-0 lead, but the Mets tied it in the fourth after Newcomb walked Juan Lagares to start the inning. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single and Travis d’Arnaud drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder that shortstop Dansby Swanson botched, his error allowing Cabrera to reach second.

One ground-out and a strikeout later, Newcomb walked Travis Taijeron to load the bases, but Matt Reynolds flied out to strand three and keep the score tied.

The Braves returned the favor an inning later when Freeman struck out on an eight-pitch at-bat with bases loaded to end a scoreless inning and leave him 2-for-10 with bases full this season, with no walks, two strikeouts and four RBIs.

Newcomb worked out of a jam in the fourth inning but couldn’t pull it off in the fifth after walking Gsellman to start things off. Jose Reyes followed with a single and two outs later, d’Arnaud singled up the middle to drive in both runners. The Mets had a 3-1 lead after five innings despite being 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position at that juncture.

Gsellman (8-7) limited the Braves to six hits, one run and one walk in six innings. The Braves won five of Newcomb’s last seven starts before Wednesday and the big lefty was 3-1 with a respectable 3.96 ERA in that span, though he had an .383 opponents’ OBP that included 20 walks in 36 1/3 innings. Add his four walks Wednesday and the total climbed to 24 walks with 47 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings over his past eight starts, with Newcomb lasting 5 1/3 or fewer innings in each of his final seven games.