ATLANTA -- When the Braves think about what likely will be their longest day of the season, they will fondly remember the thrill of Charlie Culberson's walk-off home run in Game 1 of a doubleheader and then try to forget everything that went wrong during a nightcap that seemed to
ATLANTA -- When the Braves think about what likely will be their longest day of the season, they will fondly remember the thrill of Charlie Culberson's walk-off home run in Game 1 of a doubleheader and then try to forget everything that went wrong during a nightcap that seemed to be theirs for the taking.
There were certainly a lot of tired eyes and voices in the Braves' clubhouse following the 8-5 loss suffered during the second game of Monday's twin bill against the Mets. More than 12 hours after beginning the first game, these two teams exited SunTrust Park looking forward to putting this day in the past.
Just as the Braves started their matchup against Jacob deGrom in the opener, it was learned Ronald Acuna Jr. had avoided a significant left knee injury and might return to action within the next two weeks. A couple of hours later, Culberson completed a ninth-inning comeback and a 4-3 win with his third career walk-off home run.
• Culberson's walk-off HR caps rally to stun Mets
All seemed to be going right for the Braves. They battered Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale on Sunday and emerged victorious in a game deGrom dominated for six innings. It was easy to predict things would get better in the nightcap when they matched up against P.J. Conlon, who was promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday with the understanding he might make his second career start in Monday's nightcap.
The Braves had their way with Conlon, who allowed four runs in two-plus innings. But they were not able to overcome the frustrating innings experienced by starter Brandon McCarthy and left-handed reliever A.J. Minter, both of whom felt they pitched much more effectively than the results indicated on a night that was prolonged by a two-hour, 57-minute rain delay. The second game began at 10:05 p.m. ET -- almost nine hours after the doubleheader began.
"It was death by a thousand cuts," McCarthy said. "We very well had all rights to win it. We grinded through the first game. This game, we didn't give up, we just kind of got bled to death slowly."
After the Mets claimed a 5-4 lead in the sixth courtesy of three consecutive singles surrendered by McCarthy and the two-run single Peter Moylan yielded to Amed Rosario, the Braves tied the game during a potentially prosperous bottom half of the inning, in which Robert Gsellman limited his damage to Nick Markakis' game-tying infield single.
"I tried to make better pitches the rest of the way. I did a good job," McCarthy said. "Then in the sixth, I felt like I made a bunch of good pitches. They ended up with three hits and the two runs. That was kind of a pain. But otherwise, I felt like I did a OK job of getting us deep and keeping us as close as I could."
McCarthy surrendered five runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings. He surrendered three straight one-out hits during a two-run first inning that could have been limited to one run had he made an accurate throw to second base to begin what would have been a double play on Kevin Plawecki's comebacker.
Asked to pitch on consecutive days for just the fifth time this year and the sixth time in his pro career, Minter surrendered hits to four of the six batters he faced in the decisive three-run seventh inning that was highlighted by Luis Guillorme's go-ahead, two-run single. Minter allowed one hit and totaled 3 2/3 scoreless innings over the four previous back-to-back appearances.
"It's just baseball," Minter said. "You can't let that affect tomorrow. I felt like I was commanding the ball good and throwing strikes. Unfortunately, it's a game of inches both ways. Yeah, I'm frustrated, but I'm frustrated with myself. There really wasn't anything I could do."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Missed opportunity:Freddie Freeman recorded a pair of hits, including a two-run single in the third inning, before being intentionally walked to load the bases with one out in the sixth. Markakis followed with a slow dribbler that resulted in an infield single and scored Ryan Flaherty to tie the game. But Kurt Suzuki, who homered to begin the second inning, grounded into a forceout, and Gsellman ended the threat when Culberson flied out to center field.
"We had the deck stacked in the inning we tied it," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We just couldn't pierce a gap."
Suzuki's solo shot was his seventh home run of the season and 22nd in his 297 at-bats since July 1. His 13.5 AB/HR ratio leads all catchers who have at least 250 at-bats in that span. The Yankees' Gary Sanchez ranks second with 14.1.
HE SAID IT
"It's hard to keep yourself going for three hours without fully ramping up. Mentally, I struggle with it. But you've just got to get through it." -- McCarthy, when asked about the long rain delay
Anibal Sanchez will oppose Steven Matz when the Braves and Mets resume their series Tuesday at 7:35 p.m. ET. Sanchez will be pitching for the first time since straining his right hamstring on April 18. With New York starting a left-hander, left fielder Dustin Peterson might make his first Major League start. Peterson, a right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, was promoted from Triple-A Gwinnett when Ronald Acuna Jr. was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.