|Jacob deGrom pitching to William Contreras in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets beat the Braves, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon in front of an electric crowd of 37,717 at Citi Field in the finale of the massive five-game series, in which the Mets won four of them.
The Mets improved to 70-39 on the season, and they picked up three games on the Braves to open up a 6 1/2 game edge on Atlanta, who fell to 64-46. The Mets have picked up six games on Atlanta in two weeks, after the Braves cut it to a half-game on July 23, and it is their biggest lead since it was 6 1/2 on June 18th.
Mets starter Jacob deGrom was the story in this one, as he made a triumphant return to Citi Field in his first start in his home ballpark in over a year. He took a perfect game into the sixth inning before it was broken up a walk from Ehire Adrianza, and then Dansby Swanson hit a two-run home run on what turned out to be his last pitch of the evening.
This was deGrom's 200th career start, and he set the record for most strikeouts through that amount of games when he got his 1,518th when he struck out Swanson to open the fourth. DeGrom's final line was: 5 2/3 innings, 1 hit, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk, 12 strikeouts.
deGrom was dominant to say the least through the first three innings, as he went nine up, nine down, with six strikeouts, and he Mets gave him the lead in the bottom of the third. Brandon Nimmo led off the inning with a single, and then with one out, Francisco Lindor hit one down the left field line that landed just inside the line, and Nimmo, knowing nobody could make a play on the ball if it landed fair, raced to third base.
Alonso then hit a rocket down the third base line that bounced off the bag and into the air, and Nimmo and Lindor both scored on what turned into a double for Alonso to give the Mets a 2-0 lead. That brought Alonso's RBI total to 97, which leads the Major Leagues.
Daniel Vogelbach walked, and then after Jeff McNeil flew out to center field, Mark Canha laced one up the right-center field gap for a double to bring in both Alonso and Vogelbach and open up a 4-0 lead for the Mets.
That would be the end of Spencer Strider's afternoon, as the Braves starter, who entered with a 6-3 record with a 2.79 ERA, went just 2 2/3 innings, and allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits and two walks, with five strikeouts.
deGrom opened the fourth inning with a strikeout of Swanson, his seventh of the game, and that gave him 1,518 career strikeouts, the most through a pitcher's first 200 career starts. He then got Olson to fly to left field, and Riley struck out to end the inning.
In the fifth, deGrom kept on firing, as he got Rosario to pop out to third base, and he then struck out Contreras and Grossman to give him 10 strikeouts already (out of the first 15 outs of the game) and clinch his 54th double-digit strikeout performance. He had thrown only 56 pitches, with 38 of them strikes, to this point.
In the bottom half of the inning, with Collin McHugh on for Atlanta, McNeil doubled to open it up, then he took third on a fly out to right by Canha, and scored on a wild pitch to make it 5-0 Mets.
deGrom struck out Ozuna to open the sixth, which meant that he had strikeouts against everyone in the Braves lineup by that point. He then struck out Michael Harris II, which gave him 12 K's.
|Jacob deGrom after he struck out Harris II in the sixth. Photo by Jason Schott.|
Adrianza drew a walk to break up the perfect game, and then Swanson hit one to right field that went into the Atlanta bullpen for a two-run homer to break the no-hitter and the shutout and make it 5-2.
Mets Manager Buck Showalter then pulled his ace, and turned to Joely Rodriguez, who got Matt Olson to ground out to first base to end the sixth inning.
Rodriguez stayed on for the seventh, where he worked around a single to Riley, but then got pinch-hitter Ronald Acuna, Jr., who was hitting for Rosario, to fly out to center field, and Contreras and Grossman to strike out.
The lefty then stayed on for the eighth inning, which he struck out Ozuna and Harris II to start off before he got Adrianza to bounce out to third base.
|Joely Rodriguez pitching to Michael Harris in the eighth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets turned to closer Edwin Diaz in the ninth, and it lined up perfectly, as Atlanta's top of the order was due up, starting with Swanson, and he did what now almost feels routine, struck out the side, as he got Swanson and Olson swinging, and Riley looking. It was his 26th save of the season, and third in this series.
|Edwin Diaz and Tomas Nido walk towards the mound after finishing off Atlanta. Photo by Jason Schott.|