Coming into his last start of a disappointing 2018 campaign, Jason Vargas was anything but as he silenced the Braves in the Mets’ 4-1 victory. Over the course of seven strong innings, Vargas struck out six braves while only allowing three hits and zero walks. With a pair of home runs behind him, Vargas earned his seventh win of the season and the Mets’ 75th.
From the start, things went better than usual for Vargas as he set down the probable Rookie of the Year in Ronald Acuna Jr. and then got All Stars Ozzie Albies and Nick Markakis to ground out and strike out, respectively. Leading off for the Mets, Brandon Nimmo sent a Julio Teheran curveball to left field and ended up on second base with a double. The Mets couldn’t capitalize on the man in scoring position, going down feebly three batters later.
Vargas came out for the next inning and was just as impressive as he was in the first, striking out two Braves and getting the third to fly out to Jay Bruce in right field. The bad news is that the Mets were also going down like flies, being set down 1-2-3 in their half of the second inning.
The third inning was the inning where both team’s offense began to wake up. Ryan Flaherty singled and Teheran bunted him over to put a man on second for Acuna. With their first real chance to score, Acuna sent a ball right back to Vargas to end the inning. The Mets had a much more efficient way of scoring as Kevin Plawecki launched his seventh home run of the season to left to give the Mets a 1-0 lead that they would never relinquish. That was all they got as the next three batters in a row went down, two via strikeout.
From there, the two rivals went through the next two innings quietly with a Michael Conforto walk accounting for the only baserunner until the Braves’ half of the sixth. After two easy outs, Vargas started to run into some trouble. Acuna singled on the first pitch he saw and Albies wasted no time, hitting a single of his own. With Nick Markakis at the plate, Vargas managed to coax a grounder out of him and escape a potentially dangerous inning. For the Mets, Brandon Nimmo walked to start things off, but nothing came of it.
After Vargas set down the Braves for the final time, the Mets got to work in the bottom of the seventh against the bullpen. Jesse Biddle ran into a Biddle bit of trouble as Jay Bruce singled and Todd Frazier walked to put two men on with none out. Biddle was able to strike out Dominic Smith, but went no farther as Brad Brach took over. Brach got Plawecki to line out to center to bring the pitcher’s spot to the plate. Mickey Callaway pulled Vargas and sent Mesoraco up to the dish in hopes of adding to the Amazin’s slim lead. The move paid off as Mesoraco mashed the fifth pitch he saw over the wall to extend the Mets’ lead to four runs.
The Mets weren’t the only team to realize that the bullpen is easier to score off of because the Braves had the same idea. With Anthony Swarzak in the game, Adam Duvall singled and Ryan Flaherty drew a walk. Having seen enough, Swarzak was pulled from the game and Daniel Zamora was inserted in his place. Zamora did his job, striking out Tyler Flowers, but this is September and that means we need more relievers, stat. That means it’s Drew Smith’s turn to come on down to face Ronald Acuna Jr. Smith almost immediately allowed a single to Acuna to bring a run home and give increased importance to Mesoraco’s home run.
With Robert Gsellman on to save the game in the ninth, things got a bit dicey. Kurt Suzuki quickly singled, but Gsellman managed to get the next two Bravos to send the ball to Nimmo out in center field. Adam Duvall was hit by a pitch and Mets fans entered DEFCON 1 as Freddie Freeman was called upon to represent the tying run. After six nerve-wracking pitches, Gsellman got Freeman to strike out swinging to stomp out the Braves’ rally and the game.
The Mets welcome the Marlins to town on Friday night as they start the final series of the season. Jose Urena and Corey Oswalt square off in game one at 7:10pm.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Jason Vargas +45.0% WPA, Devin Mesoraco +17.8 WPA
Big losers: None!
Teh aw3s0mest play: Devin Mesoraco’s three-run home run, +17.8% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Ronald Acuna Jr.’s RBI single, +5.5% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +48.7% WPA
Total batter WPA: +1.3% WPA
GWRBI!: Devin Mesoraco