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Shoddy defense, lack of offense does the Mets in as division lead shrinks

The Mets couldn’t muster enough offense and a few misplayed balls wound up costing them the series against the Braves.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Mets lost a tough game to the Braves by a score of 3-2, dropping the final game and thus 3 of 4 to second-place Atlanta. It marks the first time all season the Mets have lost a series to an NL East opponent, and it unfortunately comes in possibly the most important series they have played to date.

After the first two games were essentially throw-away disasters for the Mets, an inspiring win Wednesday night meant the Mets could escape Atlanta with a split and the same 5.5 game lead they entered it with if they could win tonight, and they had Jacob deGrom on the mound to help get them there. Unfortunately, they were also faced with the tough task of going against the Braves’ ace, Max Fried.

Both starters were on their games, but also were not necessarily at their peak tonight. Jacob deGrom was excellent, as usual, but was more human than he’d been recently, particularly in the third inning. deGrom seemed to lose command of his slider for the duration of inning and left a few over the plate, thus leading the Braves to hit some balls really hard and string a few hits together. In total, the Braves tallied 3 hits and two runs in the frame to take a 2-0 lead at the time.

Fried, for his part, was up to the task of facing deGrom. He scattered four hits, but one of those was a 2-run homer to Mark Canha in the fifth inning to tie the game. Fried navigated out of a tough spot in the third when the Mets had runners on first and third with nobody out, and he held them without a run.

The game stayed tied at 2-2 until the seventh, when Jacob deGrom went back out for the seventh for the first time all season. He retired the first two hitters he faced, but Vaughn Grissom hit a nubber to the shortstop hole that Brett Baty couldn’t get a handle on, and he reached on an infield single. That signaled the end for deGrom, who threw a season-high 95 pitches and went 6.2 innings for the first time since he returned. He punched out 9 in total and didn’t walk a batter.

Seth Lugo came on to face Michael Harris, and with the runner in motion, Harris hit a seeing-eye ground ball that found a hole past the infield shift and into center. Ron Washington boldly waved Grissom around, even though Brandon Nimmo had already come up with the ball, but Nimmo’s throw was not very strong, as per usual, allowing Grissom to score.

That wound up being the decisive run. Lugo got through the inning and Mychal Givens struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth, but the Mets wasted chances on offense in both the 8th and 9th innings. In the eighth, James McCann surprisingly doubled with one out, but the Mets couldn’t get him around. In the ninth, Francisco Lindor led off against Kenley Jansen with a single, and then tried to steal second with Alonso at the plate, but Alonso hit a pop up to right field with Lindor on the move. Lindor, with his head down and without a lot of time to read the play, thought was going to be caught, so he ran back to first. However, the ball fell in and they forced Lindor, who had already turned back, out at second. It was a tough break for Lindor, who was caught in between and did not have much he could do there without risking getting doubled up.

Daniel Vogelbach would then strike out, and even though Deven Marrero was able to pinch run for Alonso and steal second, Jeff McNeil grounded out softly to end the game.

The loss shrinks the Mets lead back down to 3.5 games after it was up to 7.0 games less than 10 days ago. This isn’t a doomsday scenario for the Mets, but they had a chance to sink the Braves even further, or even simply maintain their 5.5 game lead, and they failed to do so. Still, a 3.5 game lead with a soft September schedule coming up is an advantageous position to be in, but it’s frustrating nonetheless.

Box scores



Win Probability Added


What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Mark Canha, +24.9% WPA

Big Mets loser: Seth Lugo, -20.2% WPA

Mets pitchers: -1.6% WPA

Mets hitters: -48.4% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Mark Canha hits a two-run homer in the fifth inning, +20.3% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Michael Harris doubles home Vaughn Grissom in the seventh inning, -23.3% WPA

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