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Mets waste a Rick Porcello gem with offensive ineptitude and poor relief pitching

Smoke billowed out from behind Citi Field in the late innings—an apt metaphor for the end of the season.

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

The Mets lost to the Braves 7-0, dropping two out of three in a key series which all but severed their tenuous ties to playoff contention. This game did not begin as a blowout. In fact, it began as an unexpected pitchers’ duel between Rick Porcello and Kyle Wright, who matched zeros through the first five innings. In the end, Porcello blinked first, giving up a solo homer to Ronald Acuna Jr. in the top of the sixth inning, the batter after he recorded his season-high seventh strikeout of the afternoon. Michael Conforto, who had a rare bad day at the plate, lost the ball off the bat of Acuna in the sun as it landed just over the wall in the first row of seats in the right field corner. Otherwise, Conforto may have been able to pull off another miraculous play in the outfield. However, thanks to the Mets bullpen, it would not have been a game-saver this time.

The solo homer was the only black mark on Porcello’s record. All told, he tossed seven brilliant innings, striking out ten and holding the formidable Braves offense to just three hits. But the Mets managed just one hit off Kyle Wright (a Wilson Ramos double in the third inning), who had all of his weapons working at Citi Field this afternoon. Control was always the issue for the young Braves prospect, but not today; he walked just one batter over 6 13 innings of work. That batter was J.D. Davis, who worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh. Normally, a starting pitcher who was cruising the way Wright was would be left in to finish the inning, but Wright’s pitch count was in the 90s—by far the most pitches he’s thrown in any outing of his career—and manager Brian Snitker did not want to push the envelope with his young starter. He turned to the lefty Will Smith to face Dominic Smith, which turned out to be a good choice because Smith promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning and the Mets’ last real chance of a comeback.

The Mets’ bullpen then allowed the game to get completely out of hand in the later innings. In the top of the eighth, Jeurys Familia walked two straight batters with one out, who both came around to score on an RBI hit from Travis d’Arnaud, who continued to have a field day facing the team who gave up on him. In the ninth, the normally reliable Chasen Shreve added to the misery. He gave up a leadoff double to Ozzie Albies and then walked Nick Markakis to put two men on. He had a chance to potentially escape the inning on a ball hit back to the mound by Dansby Swanson on which the Mets could have turned two, but Shreve threw low to second base and Robinson Cano could not handle the throw and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Shreve struck out Austin Riley for the first out, but then Acuna struck again with a bases-clearing double that put the Braves up 6-0.

It was around this time that black plumes of smoke began to rise beyond the center field wall at Citi Field—an almost too poetic representation of the Mets’ playoff hopes going up in flames. Meanwhile, the Mets and Braves played on as the stadium filled with smoke. Shreve walked Freddie Freeman and Luis Rojas had seen enough. Corey Oswalt, freshly activated from the injured list, was called upon to finish the inning. He did record the final out on a fly ball off the bat of Adam Duvall, but not before giving up a double to Marcell Ozuna, allowing his inherited runner to score and stretching the Braves’ lead to 7-0.

The Mets managed two straight hits to lead off the bottom of the ninth against Mark Melancon, but Michael Conforto then grounded into a double play to cap off his rough day at the plate. J.D. Davis then also grounded out to end the game. The Mets are now 24-29 and have to win all of their remaining games to finish the season at .500. They open a series with the first place Tampa Bay Rays with Jacob deGrom on the mound, as he looks to rebound from a hamstring spasm that limited him to just two innings in his last start and revive his Cy Young hopes.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Rick Porcello, +20.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Jeurys Familia, -16.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: +0.9% WPA
Mets hitters: -50.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: J.D. Davis’ one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh, +5.4% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Rick Porcello gives up a solo homer to Ronald Acuna Jr. to break the scoreless tie in the sixth inning, -18.1% WPA