|Max Scherzer striking out Marcell Ozuna in the seventh inning to close out his night. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Mets ace Max Scherzer had a vintage performance, as he threw seven shutout innings to lead the Mets to a 6-2 win over the Atlanta Braves and their ace, Max Fried, on Saturday night at Citi Field in the nightcap to sweep the doubleheader.
The Mets took the first game, 8-5, behind a three-hit, two-RBI performance from Francisco Lindor and a great outing from starting pitcher David Peterson (click here for the summary of that one).
The Mets have now taken three of the first four games of this pivotal five-game series, which concludes on Sunday afternoon with Jacob deGrom on the mound for the Mets in his 2022 home debut, and Spencer Strider on the mound for the Braves.
With the win, the Mets improved to 69-39, now a season-high 30 games over .500, and they have won 11 of their last 13 games. Their lead in the National League East is now 5 1/2 games over the Braves (64-45). They have gained five games on Atlanta since the lead got down to a half-game on July 23.
This was the Mets' fourth doubleheader sweep of the season and it is their second one against the Braves, as they swept them on May 3, winning the first game 5-4 and the second one 3-0. Just like the one on Saturday, that was precipitated by having to make up for a two-game series in early April that was lost to the lockout.
It is the second time in Mets history that they have swept multiple doubleheaders against the Braves in a single season, with the first instance being in 1962 (May 12, May 20) when the Braves franchise was still in Milwaukee.
Scherzer came out firing, as he notched five strikeouts in the first three innings, in which he was just one over the minimum, with the one blemish being a Travis d'Arnaud double in the second.
|Max Scherzer firing in a pitch to Austin Riley in the second inning, as he struck him out. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets gave Scherzer the lead in the third, as Tomas Nido led off against Braves starter Max Fried with a double, and then went to second on a one-out walk by Starling Marte, and then third when a Francisco Lindor single loaded the bases for Pete Alonso, who singled him in to make it 1-0.
New Met Darrin Ruf, who was playing first base in this one while Alonso was the designated hitter, then grounded one to his counterpart at first, Matt Olson, who fired to second to nab Alonso. Shortstop Dansby Swanson took the throw there, and fired back to first to attempt the double play, with Fried fielding it at first, but it got away, with Fried chasing it in vain on the grass in foul territory. Ruf was safe, and two runs came in on it to give the Mets a 3-0 lead, which the way Scherzer was pitching was massive.
In the fourth, Scherzer worked around an Olson single to get out of it with ease, and then in the fifth, d'Arnaud led off with another double before Michael Harris II got a one-out single, and what followed was the defensive play of the night.
Ehire Adrianza then bounced one into the hole between first and second, which was fielded by second baseman Luis Guillorme, who looked like he would toss to first, but instead he fired to the plate to get d'Arnaud for the second out of the inning. Ronald Acuna, Jr. struck out to end the threat.
Scherzer then retired the Braves in order in the sixth, and the Mets tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth when Alonso led off with a single and he came in to score when Mark Canha hit one to third, and Austin Riley fired to the plate, but the throw was high, and Alonso slid under d'Arnaud's tag to make it 4-0. Alonso was originally ruled out on play, as d'Arnaud did an incredible job of jumping up to get the throw and then coming down at the plate, but Alonso just snuck a spike in at the front edge of the plate. d'Arnaud would leave after the inning with a leg injury, which was terms day to day.
The Mets ace struck out the side in the seventh to finish his night, in which he did not allow a run while scattering four hits and no walks, and striking out 11. It was the fifth time he hit double digits in strikeouts, and the 109th time in his career, which is fourth all-time.
Scherzer improved to 8-2 on the season, and lowered his ERA (earned run average) to 1.98.
|Max Scherzer walking off the mound to an ovation after he finished the sixth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Fried, generally regarded as the Braves' ace, left after six innings, as he allowed four runs (just two earned because of Atlanta's three errors) on six hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. He is now 10-4 on the season, with a 2.60 ERA.
The Braves got a run in the eighth against new Mets reliever Mychal Givens, as Ronald Acuna, Jr., got an RBI double, but the Mets responded with a pair in the bottom of the eighth when Tyler Naquin singled home Eduardo Escobar, and then Nido executed a perfect suicide squeeze when he dragged a bunt up the first base line to bring in Naquin and make it 6-1 Mets.
Nido did not get credited an at-bat on that one, but he got an RBI to go along with a 1-for-3 night, as he had that double and scored a run.