The first inning has been the achilles heal of New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon all season, and that weakness cost him and his team once again Thursday night.
This time, though, it prevented the Mets from earning a much-needed sweep against the Atlanta Braves, a sweep that could have helped save their season. Instead, the Mets momentum from a four-game winning streak was ended, keeping them a safe distance behind the Braves in the NL East.
Colon has been a consistent pitcher for much of the season, but in far too many of his starts he’s been knocked around in the first inning. He almost always settles down and pitches a great game, but sometimes the damage is already done, especially with a lineup that often has trouble generating runs. It was again the case on Thursday night, as Colon saw his third straight loss and the Mets saw their first loss in five games.
Colon looked great for seven innings against a powerful Atlanta lineup, but that was after a sluggish first inning in which he gave up three runs, which was enough to beat the Mets, who were shutdown by Aaron Harang. For his third straight start, Colon’s poor first inning cost the Mets a game they would have otherwise been able to win.
Colon’s issues in the first inning are indicative of the Mets’ overall problem this season, which is that they don’t have a large margin for error. One mistake or one bad inning has cost the Mets a significant number of games this season, and most of the time, the Mets will struggle to recover from a bad first inning by their starting pitcher.
Of course, despite the loss, the Mets still won three out of four against the Braves, which is a great feat after being swept in Atlanta just last week. Taking three out of four behind great outings from their starting pitchers has given the Mets some life heading towards the all-star break. However, a sweep of the Braves would have done wonders for their confidence and brought them within six games of the Braves, which would have been a great place to be, giving the Mets a lot of ground left to make up if they’re going to be competitive during the second half of the season.