Steven Matz went six impressive innings and was backed by huge home runs from Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso as the Mets kicked off their inaugural series against the defending National League East champions with a solid 6-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
The game looked as if it might be a slugfest early, as Atlanta took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a Ronald Acuna, Jr. RBI triple that Juan Lagares got turned around on and was unable to snag. The Mets bounced right back in the top of the second, picking up where they left off the previous night by maximizing runs with few hits. Michael Conforto and Wilson Ramos led off the inning with walks, and after Jeff McNeil hit into a force play, Amed Rosario cracked a three-run homer deep to right-center.
Johan Camargo cut the lead to one with a solo homer in the second. Matz followed by walking Tyler Flowers, and you might have feared that he was in for another unsteady night. However, the lefty responded by retiring the next 13 batters, striking out eight. Acuna, Jr. broke the string with a two-out single in the sixth, but Matz got Nick Markakis to ground out to end his impressive evening.
Still, a 4-2 lead—after a Rosario RBI single in the top of the sixth—didn’t feel incredibly stable given the Mets’ recent bullpen travails. Enter late inning terror Pete Alonso. After Brandon Nimmo worked a leadoff walk off of Jonny Venters, Alonso splashed one down over 450 feet away that landed in a pool out in dead center.
The 6-2 cushion proved useful, as the bullpen once again did plenty of bending, but this time a bit less breaking. Robert Gsellman loaded the bases with one out in the seventh before striking out Ozzie Albies and getting Josh Donaldson to ground into a force out. Luis Avilan started the eighth by retiring Freddie Freeman, but then gave up an absolute bomb to Acuna, Jr. to make the score 6-3. Jeurys Familia came one to record the last two outs, working around a walk and a stolen base thanks to a rather generous strike zone.
Even Edwin Diaz had some difficulty, allowing a single and a double in the ninth, allowing Freeman to come to the plate as the tying run—never a comforting sight for a Mets fan. Diaz rared back and blew a 99 MPH fastball by Freeman to end the game and secure a victory in this first matchup of the season of division rivals.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Amed Rosario, +31.9%, Steven Matz, +16.5%
Big losers: None
Total pitcher WPA: +24.8%
Total batter WPA: +25.2%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Amed Rosario’s three-run home run in the top of the second, +21.9%
Teh sux0rest play: Ronald Acuna, Jr.’s RBI triple in the bottom of the first, -10.6%