Soroka outpitches deGrom, Freeman's bat powers Braves 2-0
Atlanta Braves pitcher Mike Soroka throws against the New York Mets during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 13, 2018, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
By GEORGE HENRY
ATLANTA (AP) No-hitter or not, Mike Soroka knew the Braves would be cautious and not let him overexert his right shoulder.
"The first time I even thought about what was going on was going out for the sixth," he said. "It was happening so quickly. You get into a rhythm that way, and that wasn't bad as well."
Soroka did not allow a hit until the seventh inning, Freddie Freeman homered and drove in both runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the struggling New York Mets 2-0 on Wednesday.
Soroka, the youngest pitcher in the major leagues and one of baseball's top prospects, returned from a shoulder strain that sidelined him since May 17 to outpitch NL ERA leader Jacob deGrom in a game that lasted only 2 hours, 12 minutes.
Making his fourth career start, Soroka (2-1) gave up one hit, one walk and struck out four in 6 1/3 innings . He had a simple game plan.
"Pitch my game and let them adjust to my game as opposed to the other way around," Soroka said. "I think we did a really good job of that."
Freeman, the NL batting leader, has hit safely in 23 of his past 24 games. He drove in the first run with a single in the fourth off deGrom (4-2). He homered off Jeremy Blevins in the eighth .
Freeman has five homers in his past seven games and 14 overall.
Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said that Soroka would be on a pitch count, so it was no surprise when he replaced him with A.J. Minter after Michael Conforto singled to begin the seventh after 74 pitches.
The Mets have lost 10 of their past 11 and 17 of their past 21. They went 3-6 at SunTrust Park this season against the NL East-leading Braves.
DeGrom (4-2) allowed seven hits and one run and struck out seven in seven innings and threw 86 pitches. He began the game leading with majors with a 0.81 ERA since April 21, but trailed 1-0 in the fourth when Dansby Swanson doubled with one out and scored on Freeman's single.
The punchless Mets have scored 10 runs in their past 87 innings. They've lost deGrom's past five outings even though he's allowed only five runs over that span.
"He threw seven really stressful innings, especially the last couple of innings," New York manager Mickey Callaway said. "He had to grind thorough there and did a great job of keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to win like he does every time."
Conforto moved to second on a wild pitch by Soroka in the seventh, but didn't advance when Minter struck out Brandon Nimmo and Jay Bruce popped up. Soroka's other base runner was Bruce, who walked to begin the second and was erased on a double play.
Arodys Vizcaino earned his 12th save in 14 chances in a shaky ninth. Nimmo doubled with two outs, advancing Conforto to third, before Bruce popped up to end it.
DeGrom said he wasn't blaming teammates for the lack of run support, but third baseman Todd Frazier summed up the state of the Mets' offense.
"After the game, I said, `Dude, I'm sorry. I don't know what's going on. I don't know why we're not producing for you,' " Frazier said. "We talk about trying too hard. Maybe we're trying too hard when he's pitching, but a guy throws like that, he works fast. He was just dominant."
Facing a shift in the fourth, Freeman hit an opposite-field single, improving his average since the start of 2013 with runners in scoring position to .361, best in the majors over that span.
He's hitting .413 against the Mets in 12 games this year and has a .318 average, 22 homers and 94 RBIs in 134 games against the Mets, but his thoughts were mostly on his mother. Wednesday marked the death of Rosemary Freeman, who passed away from skin cancer when Freddie was 8 years old.
"I don't know if I've ever done well on this day," he said. "It's hard to keep my emotions in check. We lost her way too young. I hit that really high, I know I hit it good, but I think she pulled that one over for me today."
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard has been prescribed more rest after getting a second opinion on a strained ligament in his index finger. Callaway said Syndergaard's right finger is "tender to the touch." Syndergaard, on the disabled list retroactive to May 26, was examined Tuesday in New York. There is no immediate timetable for his return.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran, out since June 5 with a right thumb contusion, is eligible to come off the disabled list Friday, but the Braves have yet to announce their rotation for the weekend.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz (2-4, 3.53 ERA) threw a season-high 105 pitches in his previous start, a no-decision against the Yankees. He'll face Matt Koch (4-3, 4.20) as the Mets open a series against the Diamondbacks.
Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 2.37 ERA) will try for his first victory in six starts against San Diego against the Padres' Tyson Ross (5-3, 3.43).
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Updated June 13, 2018