video thumbnail

ATL@NYM: Bay's grand slam gives the Mets the lead

NEW YORK -- Mets right-hander Chris Schwinden made it through five innings in his Major League debut Thursday at Citi Field, but not before Atlanta touched him for five runs in the first three innings. The Mets scored just once after a first-inning grand slam by Jason Bay, and subsequently dropped a 6-5 decision in the first game of a doubleheader against the Braves.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the first, Freddie Freeman hit a long fly ball off the wall in left field that scored Chipper Jones from second and Dan Uggla from first after catcher Ronny Paulino couldn't handle Justin Turner's relay throw from second base. Freeman advanced to third on the throw and scored on Martin Prado's infield single one batter later, giving Atlanta a 3-0 lead.

"I think it was probably nerves more than anything," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I've seen him pitch enough to know that his command's always pretty good. I'm sure he was just a little nervous today, and he left some balls up in the zone that they hit pretty hard."

The Mets took the lead on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the inning, a grand slam from Bay that landed several rows deep in left field. It was Bay's second slam of the season and his 12th homer of 2011. Bay has three homers in his past eight games and has knocked in eight runs.

"I think he's more relaxed at home plate, knowing that he's comfortable with his swing," Collins said.

The lead was short-lived, however. Longtime Mets nemesis Jones led off the third with a blast to the Pepsi Porch in right field to tie the game. The Braves went ahead, 5-4, later in the inning, when Jason Heyward's soft line drive landed in center to score Freeman from second.

Schwinden settled down after Heyward's go-ahead single, retiring seven of the last eight Braves he faced. He left after five innings, having allowed five runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Unfortunately for the Mets, Atlanta starter Mike Minor also grew stronger as the game went on. He allowed just one runner in scoring position for the rest of his five-inning stint, getting Bay to fly out to center field to strand Lucas Duda at second in the third.

Atlanta added an insurance run in the eighth after Ryota Igarashi walked two to load the bases and Tim Byrdak hit Michael Bourn to force in a run.

Minor was followed by Arodys Vizcaino, who tossed 1 1/3 perfect innings before Eric O'Flaherty finished off the seventh. O'Flaherty's replacement, Jonny Venters, gave up a run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Nick Evans, but recovered to retire Ronny Paulino. Craig Kimbrel tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the game.

Despite the loss, Schwinden was happy to have the opportunity to pitch at the Major League level.

"This opportunity is unbelievable," Schwinden said. "Not a lot of guys get this opportunity, they go through their whole career trying to get here without smelling this. It's wonderful. I'm going to try to take in everything I can from here and try to learn as much as I can from these guys and from failure, because that's the best way to learn."

MLB.com Comments