Monday, May 1, 2023

Mets Split Doubleheader With Braves, As Comeback Falls Short In First Game, & Snag Second


Jeff McNeil hitting a single in the second inning of Game 2 before he would score later in the frame. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets split a doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves on Monday afternoon at Citi Field, as their comeback attempt in the first game fell short in a 9-8 loss, but they completed their comeback in the nightcap to win, 5-3.

The Braves took two of three in this series, and they leave New York with a 19-10 record, while the Mets are 16-13 as they head to Detroit for three starting Tuesday night. The Mets will send Joey Lucchesi to the mound on Tuesday, while Max Scherzer will make his return from suspension on Wednesday night, while Justin Verlander makes his season debut on Thursday night. It is fitting that they will debut as a Mets tandem since they both established themselves in Detroit.

Sean Murphy approaching the plate on his first-inning home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

GAME 1: BRAVES 9, METS 8: The Braves were led by Sean Murphy in this one, as he had a pair of three-run home runs and a career-high six RBI. It was his eighth home run, which leads all Major League catchers, and it was his third-career multi-home run game.

Denyi Reyes got the start for the Mets, and he was greeted by singles from Ronald Acuna, Jr., and Matt Olson before Murphy crushed his first home run of the day into the left field corner to make it 3-0 Atlanta.

The Mets got one back in the bottom half of the first inning against Braves starter Spencer Strider, as Brandon Nimmo tripled off the top of the right field fence and scored on a single from Francisco Lindor. 

Strider then struck out Pete Alonso and got Jeff McNeil to pop out to second before walking Daniel Vogelbach to load the bases. He struck out Brett Baty to end the threat and keep it a 3-1 game.

Spencer Strider pitching against Pete Alonso in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

In the top of the second, the Braves picked up where they left off, as Kevin Pillar hit a two-run homer to chase Reyes from the game.

With the Braves lineup turning over for reliever John Curtiss, Acuna welcomed him into the game with a blast into the third deck in left field to make it 6-1.

Curtiss settled in and retired his next six hitters, and that allowed the Mets to jump right back into it.

The Mets opened the bottom of the third with a single from Starling Marte and a walk to Lindor, and Alonso blasted one to right field for a three-run shot to make it 6-4 Atlanta. It was the Mets' first baseman's 11th home run of the season, to go along with 28 RBI.

Pete Alonso heading back to the dugout after his home run, and he's about to be congratulated by Daniel Vogelbach. Photo by Jason Schott.

Stephen Nogosek was next out of the Mets bullpen, and he retired the first eight Braves he would face before Vaughn Grissom singled with two out in the sixth. Overall, Curtiss and Nogosek retired 14 straight Braves hitters.

Strider went five innings for the Braves, as he allowed four runs (all earned) on four hits and three walks, with eight strikeouts.

Dylan Lee was first out of the Braves bullpen, and the first batter he faced was Baty, the Mets third baseman hit a solo home run, his second of the year, and it was 6-5 Braves.

Just as the Mets got real close, the Braves rallied against Jeff Brigham in the seventh. Acuna doubled, Olson walked, and Murphy launched another three-run homer to open up a 9-5 lead for Atlanta.

At this point, the usually reliable Collin McHugh, whom this reporter covered with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2009, surprisingly hit Lindor and Alonso with pitches. McNeil singled to load the bases, and then Vogelbach grounded into a possible double play, and Grissom threw it away at first.

That allowed Lindor and Alonso to score, and the never say die Mets were within 9-7. 

Tommy Hunter came on for the eighth, and he retired all six Braves he faced, while notching four strikeouts, to keep it there.

Atlanta turned to their closer A.J. Minter, and he retired the first two Mets with ease, but Eduardo Escobar (pinch-hitting for Vogelbach) blasted one into the left field corner for a solo shot, and the Mets pulled within 9-8. Baty then hit a liner to right field to end the comeback effort.

Tylor Megill pitching to Eddie Rosario in the second inning of Game 2 as the late afternoon shadows took over. Photo by Jason Schott.

GAME 2: METS 5, BRAVES 3: This one started with a scare, as Mets starter Tylor Megill hit Ronald, Acuna, Jr., with a pitch in the left shoulder, which knocked the Braves right fielder out of the game.

The Mets got the early lead in this one against Braves starter Charlie Morton, in the bottom of the second, as Jeff McNeil got a one-out single, and raced home on a double from Daniel Vogelbach to make it 1-0 Mets.

Megill was superb, facing the minimum 12 batters over the first four innings, as he scattered one hit and the Acuna hit-by-pitch, and he did it by inducing double plays to end the first and second innings, and got six groundouts and three strikeouts. 

Tylor Megill pitching to Ehire Adrianza in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Braves had a chance in the fifth, as Sean Murphy led off with a single, followed by an Eddie Rosario walk, but Megill got Ozzie Albies to fly out to left field, struck out Sam Hilliard, and got Ehire Adrianza to ground into a force out.

The Mets responded in the bottom half of the fifth, as Brett Baty led off with a double and came in to score on a single by Starling Marte to give the Mets a 2-0 edge. 

Starling Marte at first base ready to greet 1B coach Wayne Kirby while Brett Baty, who scored, approaches the dugout. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Braves rallied in the sixth, as Chadwick Tromp led off with a double, and then Matt Olson drew a one-out walk. Austin Riley then flew out to right before Murphy drew a walk, and then Rosario hit a double to center field to clear the bases and, just like that, the Braves were up, 3-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, Vogelbach and Mark Canha drew one-out walks, and that was all for Morton, who exited for Michael Tonkin.

Baty flew out for the second out, but Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez, whose bat is starting to heat up, lined a double to left field to bring in Vogelbach and Canha and the Mets reclaimed the lead at 4-3.

The Mets tacked on a massive insurance run in the eighth when McNeil blasted a solo home run to right center field to make it 5-3. It was his second home run of the season, and his 10th RBI.

The bullpen came up big for the Mets, as Drew Smith threw 1 1/3 innings to earn the win, his second of the season, and David Robertson closed it out with two innings to earn his sixth save.

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