Walk-Off Sacrifice Fly by Curtis Granderson in the 14th Prevents Series Sweep by Braves

Howard Goldin

Flushing, NY---The marathon encounter between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon did not come to a conclusion until 398 pitches had been thrown and 4 hours and 37 minutes had elapsed.

It was fitting that the crucial blow in the 14th inning had been struck by 33 year-old Curtis Granderson. The veteran outfielder had first played in the majors with the Tigers in 2004. He joined the Yankees in 2010 and signed a free agent contract with the Mets on December 10, 2013.

Expectations were very high when Granderson went across town to a new team and a new league. Mets fans were excited to have a person of Granderson’s ability as a player and decency as a human being on their club. Unfortunately for him and for the fans, Granderson has not yet lived up to expectations.

After his 0 for 6 day at the plate on Sunday, his batting average dropped to a meager .127. He has been hitless in his last 16 official at bats. His strikeouts have not dipped in number this year as he has been fanned 20 times in 63 at bats. This showing has disappointed Mets fans who were heard booing the first year Met at each of his trips to the plate on Sunday.

In addition to his lack of hitting, Granderson made a wild throw from the outfield that could not be cut off during the only inning [5th] in which the Braves scored. Of the throw, he admitted, “I just lost it.”

When asked after the game about whether or not he heard the jeering, he responded, “You can’t help but to hear it. I haven’t given them much to cheer about.”

Granderson’s opportunity to shine came in the bottom of the 14th. Kirk Nieuwenhuis led off with a walk. Ruben Tejada sacrificed him to second. Eric Young Jr was intentionally walked. Rookie Gus Schlossar, in his fourth inning on the mound, fired a wild pitch moving the runners to second and third. Grandersonstated he “slightly did change” after the wild pitch and was able to lift a fly ball to left that scored the lead runner with the winning (4-3) tally. The walk-off run batted in was Granderson’s third in the majors and his first since June 12, 2006, when he was with Detroit.

Granderson, his teammates, his manager and most of the 33,131 fans in the stands were overjoyed by his accomplishment. Manager Terry Collins spoke with high praise of Grandy, “There’s not a finer guy that you would want on your team. You have to root for him. I’m really happy for him.”

Collins also said he considered his poor start to be an aberration, “It’s early in the year. This [poor start] will be forgotten in July when he puts up his numbers.”

Granderson, of course, was happy to be a contributor to his team’s win, “Hopefully, the team will win and I’ll have something to bring to it. Victory is always a good thing. I needed something positive.” The play also is a lesson of life, according to Granderson, “It’s a sign that things can change in a matter of seconds.”

The game was not decided in totality by only one play. Two others who stood out should be mentioned. David Wright hit four singles to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. It was the 18th game in which the Mets captain has reached that plateau.

DauskeMatsuzaka came in a reliever for the second consecutive game, yet only the third time in his career in the majors. He hurled three innings (11th, 12th and 13th) excellently as he gave up no hits, walked one and fanned five.

The veteran pitcher from Japan was not troubled by what was asked of him, “This is my role for the time being, so I’ll do what I can. Having thrown three innings and done well was very satisfying. Yesterday, I only threw one inning, so I didn’t think pitching back-to-back would be a problem. It wasn’t too difficult.”

The St. Louis cards now come to Citi Field for a four game series  starting on Monday evening. The Braves return to Atlanta for a three game set with the Miami Marlins.