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Ronald Acuña hits first career walk-off as the Mets fall short of a sweep

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The Mets didn’t have quite enough to complete the sweep of the Braves on Wednesday night.

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

As has become routine through the first month and a half of the 2021 season, the Mets played a baseball game on Wednesday night that was far from normal. With Pete Alonso not in the lineup, and Taijan Walker hitting the IL—making it 14 Mets on the IL— it was fair to say the team was shorthanded going into the game looking to complete a three game sweep.

Coming off arguably the best start of his career, David Peterson took the mound for the Mets, and through the first four innings, looked terrific, facing the minimum and allowing just one hit.

Facing 37 year-old Charlie Morton, the Mets were able to get on the board first in the top of the fourth thanks to a Jonathan Villar home run. This lead was short lived as Peterson ran into a load of trouble in the bottom of the fifth against the bottom half of the Braves lineup.

With one out in the fifth, Austin Riley swung at a first pitch fastball and hit a double into the right centerfield gap. After Dansby Swanson advanced Riley to third on a groundout, Peterson hit William Contreras with a pitch, putting runners at the corners with two outs. This set the table for Guillermo Heredia who tied the game with a two-out single. Up next was the pitcher Charlie Morton, and instead of getting an easy third out and escaping the inning with no further damage done, Peterson threw Morton a first pitch sinker which he wacked up the middle to score Contreras and put the Braves in front 2-1. Next, with the bases load, Peterson walked Ronald Acuña, and the Braves scored their third run of the inning. This was the end of Peterson’s night, as he pitched 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

With the Mets now down 3-1, it seemed as if the game was over, and that they would have to be content with taking two out of three from the Braves. However, the team had different plans in the top of the seventh, facing reliever A.J. Minter. With two men away, Dominic Smith got all the way to second base on a throwing error by Minter to give the Mets life. James McCann was then able to work out a walk, putting the tying run on base.

Jose Peraza came up next and added to the legend of the bench mob, ripping a double down the left field line. Smith was able to score, with McCann being held up at third, as the tying and go ahead runs were now on base for the Mets. The double from Peraza ended Minter’s outing, as Luke Jackson came in, trying to get one more out for the Braves and keep them in the lead 3-2.

Tomás Nido had other plans, as he pinch hit for the pitchers spot, and after his go-ahead homer last night, contributed a go-ahead two-run single to put the Mets in front 4-3. Miguel Castro then had a shutdown inning in the bottom half of the seventh, with a little bit of luck thrown in there, as the game moved into the late innings.

After failing to secure any insurance runs in the eighth inning, Aaron Loup came on for the second straight day. Austin Riley led off the inning with yet another double, immediately putting the tying run in scoring position. Dansby Swanson then reached first on a hit that the Mets were fortunate enough to keep in the infield and save a run for the time being. William Contreras was the next batter, and Loup gave up his third straight hit, as the Braves were able to tie the game at 4. Loup’s night was done after this, and Jacob Barnes came into the game with no outs, and two runners on. Aided by James McCann throwing out Swanson trying to steal third base, Barnes struck out two batters to limit the damage, and keep the game tied.

In the top of the ninth inning, the Mets were looking for some late inning magic for the second straight day. In his first game as a Met, Cameron Maybin led off the inning and struck out on a pitch in the dirt. The ball got behind the catcher though, and Maybin was able to reach first base safely, putting the go-ahead run on base with no outs. After Dominic Smith struck out swinging, James McCann came up to the plate. Maybin first stole second base during McCann’s at bat to put himself in scoring position, and then reached third on a wild pitch. All McCann needed to do was hit a fly ball to the outfield to bring home the winning run. Instead, he popped a ball into foul territory right next to third base for the second out of the inning. It was left to Jose Peraza to try to give the Mets the lead, and on a 1-0 pitch, he lined out to third base, squandering a golden opportunity for the Mets to take the lead.

With the game still tied, Jacob Barnes came back out in the bottom of the ninth for his second inning of work. Facing the top of the order, it was going to be a tall task for Barnes to pitch a clean inning and send the game to extra innings. Ronald Acuña had no interest in playing free baseball at Truist Park however, as he smashed Barnes’ first pitch of the inning over the centerfield wall for the first walk-off home run of his career, winning the game for the Braves 5-4.

The Mets will now head to Miami and have tomorrow off before they begin a three game series against the Marlins. Marcus Stroman will get the start on Friday, and the bullpen will get some much needed rest tomorrow during the day off.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Tomás Nido, +33.7% WPA

Big Mets loser: Aaron Loup, -45.6% WPA

Mets pitchers: -56.5% WPA

Mets hitters: +6.5% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Tomás Nido’s go-ahead two-run single in the top of the seventh, +33.7%

Teh sux0rest play: Ronald Acuña’s walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the ninth, -36.2% WPA