Friday, August 5, 2022

Mets, With Contributions From New & Familiar, Make Statement In Opener With Braves

Pete Alonso connecting on his RBI single in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets made quite a statement in the opener of their five-game the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night at Citi Field, as they won it 6-4, as they hit four home runs, led by two from Tyler Naquin, a two-run homer and three RBI from Pete Alonso, and a blast from Daniel Vogelbach.

The Mets are now 67-38, and they increased their lead in the National League East over the Braves (63-43) to 4 1/2 games. The Mets have picked up four games on the Braves since Atlanta pulled to within half a game on July 23, just under two weeks ago.

Carlos Carrasco got the win for the Mets, to improve to 12-4, with a 3.82 ERA, as he stifled the Braves for six innings, allowing three runs on four hits and a walk, with six strikeouts.

Carlos Carrasco pitching to Eddie Rosario in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets offense came out firing in the first inning against Atlanta starting pitcher Kyle Wright, who entered this one with a 13-4 record. 

Starling Marte got an infield single with one out to start their rally, and then Francisco Lindor walked. Pete Alonso was up next, and he laced a single to left field to bring in Marte and make it 1-0 Mets. They couldn't add to it as Daniel Vogelbach hit into a double play to end the inning.

In the second, Tyler Naquin, who was making his Citi Field debut as a Met, launched a solo shot to right field into the bullpen for his first home run as a Met, and that gave them a 2-0 lead.

The Mets added to their lead in the third when Lindor drew a two-walk to keep the inning going, and that was followed by a majestic blast to deep left field by Alonso, a two-run shot, his 29th of the season, and that also gave him 91 RBI. 

Vogelbach followed with a blast of his own, into the Coca-Cola Corner in the second deck in right field, to make it a 5-0 lead for the Mets. He is now one of just three Mets to have 90 or more RBI by the Mets’ 104th game of the season. The other two names are no surprise, Mike Piazza, who did it in 1999 & 2000, and Carlos Beltran in 2006. 

Through it all, Carrasco was cruising, starting with notching three strikeouts in the first two innings as he got the first six Braves out in a row. Marcell Ozuna broke the stretch as he led off the third with a single, but Carrasco then retired the next five hitters before a walk to Austin Riley in the fourth. Eddie Rosario then flew out to left to end the inning.

In the fifth, Travis d'Arnaud led off with a single, then he advanced to second base on a wild pitch and took third on a flyout to right for Orlando Arcia, which was the second out, and then he scored on a single by Michael Harris II.

That run broke a scoreless inning streak for Carrasco that lasted 23 1/3 innings, which became the longest of his career, surpassing a 22.0-scoreless inning run with Cleveland in 2015. The prior run he allowed was on July 9 against Miami, and he followed that with six shutout innings against the Cubs on July 14 in an 8-0 Mets win, five shutout innings vs. San Diego in an 8-5 Mets win on July 24, and on July 30 in Miami, 7 2/3 shutout innings in a 4-0 Mets win.

The Braves lineup turned over, and Ronald Acuna, Jr., blasted one to center field for a two-run shot to get Atlanta back into the game, and make it 5-3 Mets. Dansby Swanson grounded out to end the big inning for Atlanta.

With his team back in the game, Wright finally had a clean inning in the fifth, which came after he got Brandon Nimmo to hit into a double play to end the fourth.

Carrasco rebounded by retiring Atlanta in order in the sixth to finish that night, and in the bottom half of the inning, Naquin hit another blast, this one to left-center field, his second dinger of the night, and that put the Mets up 6-3. Naquin was acquired by the Mets from Cincinnati last Thursday, and this power surge was all the more remarkable because he only had seven home runs with the Reds. He is the third Met to homer in his first at-bat with the Mets at Citi Field, joining Rajai Davis and Aaron Altherr, who both did it two days apart in 2019, with Davis' on May 22 and Altherr's on May 24 of that year.

Wright finished the inning, which made his final line: 6 innings pitched, 7 hits, 6 runs (earned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. He went on to lose, dropping his record to 13-5 on the season, and his ERA jumped from 2.92 to 3.22.

Adam Ottavino came on for the Mets in the seventh, and he allowed a two-out single to Orlando Arcia, and then let him advance to second base on a wild pitch, which loomed large when Harris II followed with a single to bring him home and make it a 6-4 game.

The importance of this game was then shown by who came in for the Mets in the eighth: closer Edwin Diaz. He got Swanson to ground out, and then struck out their big power hitters, Matt Olson and Austin Riley.

In the ninth, Eddie Rosario led off with a single, and then Diaz got d'Arnaud to fly out to right, and then struck out Marcell Ozuna before Arcia grounded back to Diaz on a check swing to end it, giving the Mets closer his 24th save of the season.

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