After getting thoroughly embarrassed in Monday night’s series-opening defeat, Mickey Callaway called a full team meeting prior to Tuesday night’s game. While the contents of the meeting itself—and any influence it had on the team, real or imagined—will forever remain a mystery to those outside the room, the New York Mets came out firing on all cylinders as they evened up their three-game series with the Atlanta Braves.
After some uncharacteristic struggles earlier in the year, Jacob deGrom has mostly returned to his dominant 2018 form as of late. Even in his worst starts since mid-May, he’s still managed to hold his opponents to two earned runs or less. Unfortunately, the team has also begun to treat their ace as if it’s 2018 with subpar offensive outputs and full-blown bullpen meltdowns every time he’s taken the mound. That trend was finally broken, as the Mets put up ten runs to help get deGrom his fourth win of the season.
The night actually began somewhat ominously for deGrom. Under dark clouds and the threat of rain, first pitch was pushed back ten minutes to 7:30pm EST, which is something that the starting pitcher needs to be told in order to adjust their pregame routine. Around 7:05pm, deGrom was alerted to this fact well after he had begun his bullpen routine, with cameras catching a visibly irritated deGrom in the bullpen. A lesser pitcher might have been distraught and distracted by this oversight, but the 30-year-old hurler was neither. Instead, he was vintage deGrom.
After both teams failed to score in the first two innings, the Mets jumped on Julio Teheran in the third. Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso started things off with back-to-back doubles to give the Mets their first run of the evening. After Robinson Cano walked, Michael Conforto drove a fly ball to left field that ricocheted off of the inexperienced Austin Riley’s glove for a double, which plated Alonso and moved Cano to third. Todd Frazier followed with a run-scoring grounder to shortstop, with Amed Rosario adding a single to plate Conforto and give the team their fourth run of the frame. Prior to tonight’s game, Teheran had allowed four earned runs in his previous eight starts combined since May 1.
Staked to an early lead, deGrom returned to the mound and struck out Teheran and Ronald Acuna Jr. in a scoreless third. He was very economical early on—he had 34 pitches through three—which afforded him the opportunity to pitch deep into this game. Meanwhile, the Mets wasted no time building on their lead, as they added two more runs in the fourth. It was once again the squirrel and polar bear tandem who got things started, with McNeil dropping a perfectly-placed infield single to the left side with the Braves playing him to pull. The hit gave McNeil his 44th career multi-hit game in his 122th career game. Alonso followed with his 24th home run of the season, which puts him just two behind Darryl Strawberry for the club rookie record of 26 home runs.
In the bottom of the inning, deGrom made some history of his own with his strikeout of Dansby Swanson. The punch out was the 1,107th of his career, moving him ahead of Al Leiter for seventh on the team’s all-time strikeout list. Next up for deGrom is SNY broadcaster Ron Darling, who is sixth with 1,148, following by David Cone with 1,172. Barring injury, there’s a fairly good chance that deGrom will enter the top five by the end of the season. He finished with 10 strikeouts without a walk, meaning the ace has now struck out 35 while walking just two over his last four starts.
The Mets were not done piling on the runs, as they put two more up on the board against Touki Toussaint in the sixth. deGrom got the party started with a leadoff double to help his own cause. McNeil followed with a dribbler to the pitcher, and Toussaint’s throw to first hit McNeil. However, umpires ruled that he was out of the baseline and called him out on the play—despite Callaway’s vocal objections. After Alonso walked, Cano lined a double down the left field line to plate deGrom. Conforto was intentionally walked, which proved costly as the Braves’ right-hander couldn’t find the strike zone against Todd Frazier and walked him to force in the team’s eighth run of the evening.
In the eighth, Conforto greeted Atlanta reliever Josh Tomlin very rudely by taking his second pitch of the evening over the left field wall for a solo home run. After seeing all the fun Conforto had following the home run, McNeil decided to join in with a solo home run of his own off Tomlin with one out in the ninth inning. When all was said and done, the Mets collected 15 hits, with every member of the team’s lineup contributing at least one hit. In addition to the three home runs, the Mets added six doubles in the victory.
With deGrom cruising, Callaway decided to stick with his starter despite his pitch count exceeding 100 after the end of the eighth. This closely follows the skipper’s prerogative of letting his starters pitcher deeper into games and stretch their pitch count. Things began innocently enough in the ninth, as deGrom got Matt Joyce to ground out. However, Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson followed with back-to-back home runs to give Atlanta their first two runs of the evening. That would be all for deGrom, who was charged with two earned runs on five hits with 10 strikeouts over 8.1 innings. In the process, he lowered his ERA to 3.26 on the season. Robert Gsellman came in and set down Charlie Culberson and Austin Riley to complete the victory.
The Mets will try to win the series on Wednesday night before traveling to Wrigley Field for four with the Chicago Cubs. New York will look to Steven Matz to guide them to victory as he faces off against Max Fried in a 7:20pm EST start.
SB Nation GameThreads
Win Probability Added
Big winners: Pete Alonso, 19.6% WPA, Jacob deGrom, 18.3% WPA
Big losers: None!
Total pitcher WPA: 18.3% WPA
Total batter WPA: 31.7% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto run-scoring double in the third, 12.1% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Dansby Swanson double in the first, -4.0% WPA