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Another bullpen meltdown, another Jacob deGrom start wasted

deGrom dazzled once again, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the late lead.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Another brilliant Jacob deGrom start was all for naught Saturday night, as the Mets’ bullpen couldn’t hold a 3-0 lead and lost to the Braves by a score of 4-3. Ender Inciarte, true to form, is the one who delivered final blow that put the Mets away: a walk-off drag bunt.

LOSE 4-3 (Brisby)

The early portions of this game featured plenty of zeroes for both sides. Both deGrom and Julio Teheran were on the top of their respective games, matching zeroes for seven innings. deGrom was particularly spectacular, and even held the Braves hitless until the fifth inning, when Carlos Perez singled with two outs. The only baserunners deGrom allowed prior to that hit were two walks he yielded in the second inning.

On offense, the Mets were similarly stifled by Teheran. Their best chance to score against the Braves’ ace came in the third inning, when Jose Reyes notched his first base hit of the season and stole second, and then Michael Conforto followed with a single of his own to move Reyes to third. But the next two batters, Yoenis Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera, both struck out, ending the threat.

On the mound, deGrom found trouble in the sixth, when Inciarte led off with a single, stole second, and then stole third—or at least that’s how it seemed. The Mets challenged the call at third, and the replay revealed Inciarte’s leg coming off the base momentarily while Todd Frazier held the tag down, and the call was overturned. Freddie Freeman would later double in the inning, but deGrom got Nick Markakis to pop out to strand him there.

deGrom finished his night after seven innings and 97 pitches. He struck out 10 on the night—his second-straight start with double-digit strikeouts—and only allowed four hits and those two walks. But the offense couldn’t back him until the eighth inning, when the Mets finally broke through against the Braves bullpen.

Wilmer Flores pinch-hit for deGrom and drew a walk to lead off the inning, and then Reyes followed with his third hit of the night. The next batter, Michael Conforto, hit a ball to shortstop that looked like an easy double play, but second baseman Ozzie Albies dropped the ball on the transfer. The out was counted at second base, but the Mets again challenged, and the call again went in their favor. The umpires at the command center ruled that Albies never had the ball, so Reyes was ruled safe at second, and the bases were loaded with nobody out.

After Yoenis Cespedes hit a fly out too shallow to score a run, Asdrubal Cabrera broke the ice. He lofted a two-RBI single that gave the Mets the first two runs of the game. Jay Bruce promptly followed by dropping another RBI hit in shallow right field for another run. The Mets led 3-0.

Two batters later, the Braves intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to get to Jose Lobaton, and Mickey Callaway decided not to pinch hit for Lobaton with the bases loaded and two out. Lobaton would fly out, stranding three.

AJ Ramos came on in relief of deGrom and walked two of the first three hitters he faced. Callaway then went to Jerry Blevins to face Freeman with two on and one out, and the very first pitch Blevins threw to him was blasted for a two-run double. Blevins got the second out, but was then replaced by Jeurys Familia, who got out of the inning with the 3-2 lead intact.

The Mets didn’t score in the top of the ninth, setting up a dramatic bottom of the ninth for Familia to navigate. He walked Dansby Swanson leading off the inning. Then the next batter, Johan Camargo, hit a ball sharply to second base that could’ve been a double play, but it was just past the diving Cabrera, into the outfield, and it amazingly kept rolling all the way to the wall. Swanson scored from first to tie the game, and Camargo wound up at third with a triple.

From there, it was a tough road to hoe for Familia. Kurt Suzuki laced a liner towards third that Frazier got a glove on to save from going down the line and kept the runner from scoring, though he couldn’t record an out. Familia fanned Charlie Culberson for the first out, but that brought up noted Mets-killer Ender Inciarte, and on the first pitch, he dragged a perfect bunt to first base. Gonzalez did all he could to get it home, but Camargo was already crossing the plate with the winning run by the time the ball got there. The Braves won a crushing game, 4-3.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big winners: Jacob deGrom, +44.8% WPA, Jose Reyes, +17.8% WPA, Asdrubal Cabrera, +13.5% WPA
Big losers: Jeurys Familia, -68.3% WPA, Yoenis Cespedes, -26.4% WPA, Jerry Blevins, -13.1% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Asdrubal Cabrera hits a two-RBI single in the eighth inning, +20.3% WPA.
Teh sux0rest play: Johan Camargo hits a game-tying RBI triple in the ninth inning, -59.5% WPA.
Total pitcher WPA: -42.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: -0.74% WPA
GWRBI!: Ender Inciarte