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Mets done in by their pitching as they fall to Braves

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Jason Vargas and Corey Oswalt allowed a combined nine runs in the loss.

MLB: New York Mets at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets saw their three-game winning streak come to the end, as an all-around ugly pitching performance resulted in an 11-7 defeat at the hands of the Atlanta Braves. It was the first MLB game since July 9, 2015, in which neither starting pitcher was able to make it out of the second inning. With both starters scuffling, it was Atlanta’s bullpen that proved the difference, specifically the performance of long reliever Touki Toussaint.

It was a long and laborious game that featured forgettable pitching performance by both Jason Vargas and Corey Oswalt. In his first appearance since giving up four earned runs in relief on Tuesday night, Vargas managed to record just one out and needed 36 pitches — 17 strikes, 19 balls — to do so. He reached three-ball counts on five of the six batters he faced and was charged with four earned runs on two hits and three walks.

Vargas saw his ERA balloon from 9.00 to 14.21 after his brutal start. After mercifully removing Vargas, Mickey Callaway voiced his displeasure with home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez’s strike zone, which led to a swift ejection. Oswalt entered and allowed two inherited runners to score on a Johan Camargo single.

Despite the early deficit, the Mets managed to battle back in the next inning. Travis d’Arnaud led off the second with a single — his first hit since returning from Tommy John surgery — and a Keon Broxton walk and Amed Rosario single loaded the bases with no outs. Juan Lagares drove a two-run double down the left field line to cut Atlanta’s lead in half. From there, Oswalt contributed a sacrifice fly to pick up his first career RBI, and Jeff McNeil added a run-scoring single to even the score at four apiece.

The difference in the game was the performance of the team’s respective long relievers. The Braves replaced starter Sean Newcomb with Touki Toussaint, who escaped the jam in the second and managed to allow just one unearned run and four hits over six-plus innings of work. He struck out seven and kept the Mets at bay, while Oswalt added gasoline to the fire that Vargas started in the first. Fresh off the Mets’ four-run second, Oswalt allowed four runs in the bottom of the inning, which put Atlanta on top for good. With neither team scoring in the third, the Braves added a run off Oswalt in the fourth on a Nick Markakis solo home run.

Atlanta added runs in the sixth and seventh off Luis Avilan and Robert Gsellman, respectively, to increase their lead to 11-4. With the game seemingly out of reach, the Mets did their best to chip away and continued to battle. In the seventh, Amed Rosario reached on a fielder’s choice, and a run scored on a throwing error by first baseman Freddie Freeman. In the ninth, Brandon Nimmo, who was double-switched into the game, picked up a bloop single to drive in the team’s sixth run. Next up was d’Arnaud, who grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice which made it 11-7. Broxton then struck out to end the game and the team’s comeback attempt.

There were some positives to take away from the loss. McNeil picked up yet another multi-hit game and set a franchise record with 90 hits in his first 76 games. After entering late in the game, Nimmo picked up a run-scoring single as he works to climb out of his early-season funk. Dominic Smith continues to hit as well, as he contributed a pinch-hit double in his lone plate appearance. Gsellman also looked good despite allowing a home run to Josh Donaldson. In two innings of work, he allowed just the one hit while striking out four batters.

With the loss, the Mets saw their record drop to 9-5. However, with the Philadelphia Phillies falling to the Miami Marlins earlier in the day, the Mets were able to maintain their lead atop the National League East division.

Next up, the team will close out their four-game series against the Braves on Sunday night. Jacob deGrom will look to bounce back from his rough start last Tuesday as he opposes Julio Teheran in a nationally-televised game.

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What’s WPA?

Big winners: None
Big losers: Corey Oswalt, -36.6% WPA, Jason Vargas, -29.6% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: -66.6% WPA
Total batter WPA: 16.6% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Juan Lagares two-run double in the second, 14.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Nick Markakis RBI double in the bottom of the first, -9.4% WPA