"A lot of things we've done well the first four games, we struggled with a little bit today," said Mets starter and losing pitcher Tom Glavine. "But it was a tough day all around. Those conditions are not easy to play in for anybody, and that time of day is an odd time."
It all added up to an oddity for the 2007 Mets.
Pitching, defense and timely hitting, which had been the cornerstones of the Mets' four-game, season-opening winning streak, abandoned them Saturday afternoon as Glavine struggled with his control, and the Mets made two costly miscues and left 13 men on base in a 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday afternoon at Turner Field.
Temperatures in the low 40s at first pitch and a stiff left-to-right breeze over 20 mph made every ball hit or thrown an adventure. The conditions were especially difficult on the pitchers and turned what should have been a matchup of future Hall of Famers, Glavine and Atlanta's John Smoltz, into a battle for survival.
"When you have a cold day and it's windy, it's hard to get any perspiration on your hand and it's hard to hold onto the ball," said Glavine (1-1), who allowed just four hits, but walked three, hit a batter and threw only 56 of his 113 pitches for strikes. "I struggled with it. I know John struggled with it, too. We're two guys that are pretty good control pitchers, and we were both right around 50/50 balls-strikes.
"It's a pretty good indication that it was tough conditions," Glavine continued. "But that's the stuff you face this time of the year. You try everything you can to do something to feel a little bit more comfortable with your grip, but it's the kind of thing that just kind of comes and goes and you're constantly battling with it.
The conditions also affected the Mets defensively.
In the first inning, first baseman Carlos Delgado dropped a routine throw from second baseman Jose Valentin, allowing leadoff man Kelly Johnson to reach. Johnson would eventually score to tie the game. Paul Lo Duca's first home run of the season had given the Mets the lead in the top of the first.
"I heard [Delgado] talking to Valentin about the background in the outfield," said Mets manager Willie Randolph. "Some of the shirts out there might have been a part of it, but again, in the heat of the game, you play the game. He's a pretty good defensive player, so there probably was something that hindered him from seeing the ball."
"I know guys were having a hard time seeing the ball," agreed Glavine. "Carlos, over at first base, every time anybody threw him the ball, he had a hard time finding it. So it was a tough day for everybody."
Delgado wasn't alone.
In the sixth, Shawn Green's error on a Matt Diaz sacrifice fly opened the door to a three-run inning, which broke a 2-2 tie.
|"You do get used to winning, but I knew it was going to come sooner or later, so it doesn't feel too odd. It was only four games; it's not like it's been 10. Ten or 15 would be different. It's a good sign to see us fighting until the end, as we always do."|
|-- Mets manager Willie Randolph|
Only one of the three runs was earned, as Atlanta bunched together three hits, including an RBI infield single by Edgar Renteria -- a chopper that was juggled by Jose Reyes -- two walks and a pair of sacrifice flies, the first of which was dropped by Green.
Smoltz (1-0) got the win after pitching six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits while walking four (one intentionally) and striking out four. He threw 118 pitches, 63 for strikes.
The Mets had opportunities against the Braves' ace, who had only one 1-2-3 inning and put at least two men on in every inning but his perfect second. But the big hit proved elusive, as New York left 10 men on base in his six innings. Third baseman David Wright struck out three times against Smoltz.
Still, the Mets hung around.
New York rallied for a run in the seventh off Mike Gonzalez, and had the tying runs on base with one out in the ninth. But Atlanta closer Bob Wickman retired Moises Alou on a flyout to shallow center and Green on a rocket to first base that was snared by first baseman Craig Wilson.
"I thought it was [through] until I saw him," said Green, who went 3-for-5 on the day to raise his season average to .400. "I got the pitch I was looking for. I hit it the way I wanted. I just hit it right at him."
Delgado added two hits and Carlos Beltran added a single in the fifth inning, giving him at least one hit in every game this season.
While the Mets were unable to match the 5-0 start of the 1985 team, Randolph remained upbeat.
"You do get used to winning, but I knew it was going to come sooner or later, so it doesn't feel too odd," the Mets manager said. "It was only four games; it's not like it's been 10. Ten or 15 would be different. It's a good sign to see us fighting until the end, as we always do."
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less