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Cookie crumbles late, Mets fall to Braves in series opener

The Mets saw their losing streak reach four, and fell 6.5 games back of first in the NL East.

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

The last time the Mets found themselves in Truist Park, they saw their chances at a division title all but dashed after enduring a humiliating sweep late in the 2022 season. They were not able to exorcise those demons tonight. After enduring a 100-minute rain delay without any actual rain falling between 7:20 p.m.—the original start time— and 9:00 p.m.—the updated start time, the Mets fell to the Braves by a 6-4 score in the first of three games they will play this week at Truist Park, a place which, like its predecessor, Turner Field, continues to be a House of Horrors.

Carlos Carrasco got the start in this one and immediately got himself into trouble in the first, as Matt Olson and Austin Riley hit back-to-back, one out singles. The right-hander was able to dance around that dangerous scenario by inducing a double play from Sean Murphy to end the frame. Atlanta got to him in the second, as Ozzie Albies, following up a four-hit game, hit a solo home run to break the scoreless tie.

The Mets’ bats struggled in the first two innings against NL ERA leader Bryce Elder, but the bench also expressed frustration with home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn’s strike zone, and Eric Chavez let it be known, eventually getting tossed for his troubles. That seemingly woke up the team’s offense, as Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso each crushed two-run homers following Chavez’s ejection to give New York their first lead of the night. It was Lindor’s 11th of the year, while it was Alonso’s league-leading 22nd.

The game settled down from there. Carrasco got into trouble again in the third and the fifth, and got out of it both times, inducing another double play to end the fifth. The offense, meanwhile, mustered just a Brety single in the fourth, which was erased by a double play, as Elder faced the minimum across those three innings.

Carrasco got into trouble in the sixth that he couldn’t wiggle his way out of. It started with a leadoff walk to Olson, and followed by a double by Riley and a two-run double by Murphy in the span of three pitches. That spelled the end of the night for Carrasco, who exited after five-plus innings of four-run, six-hit ball. Drew Smith came in to relieve Carrasco and retired the first two batters before hanging a breaking ball to Marcell Ozuna, which he laced into left field for a game-tying double. After a wild pitch, Orlando Arcia struck a single up the middle that glanced off Eduardo Escobar’s glove and trickled into center, which allowed Ozuna to come home with the go-ahead run.

The Mets found immediate life in the top of the seventh, thanks to a Riley error that allowed Starling Marte to reach first safely, but that was immediately erased on a Baty double play. Jesse Chavez would recover to retire Escobar and end the without any further threats. The scuffling A.J. Minter and his 6.49 ERA entered for the eighth, and he worked around a one-out walk to Brandon Nimmo while keeping the Mets off the board.

Atlanta pushed home an insurance run against Adam Ottavino, as Eddie Rosario doubled and reached third on an error from Jeff McNeil, who didn’t have a great day overall in left field. After an intentional walk to Albies, Ozuna hit a sharp grounder up the middle that was initially called a double play, but upon replay review, Albies, who was running upon the pitch, easily beat it despite his lack of a slide. That brought home Rosario with an insurance run for Atlanta.

The Mets went quietly in the ninth as they saw their losing streak reach four games. On top of that, they now trail first-place Atlanta by 6.5 games in the NL East, albeit with just 101 games to go in the season. Still, this team has done little to show that they aren’t more than what they’ve been through 61 games—a .500 team with some good moments and some bad. The Mets will look to rebound tomorrow night, as Max Scherzer takes the mound opposite Charlie Morton. Hopefully the Braves won’t enforce another unnecessary 100-minute rain delay.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, 16.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Carlos Carrasco, -19.5% WPA
Mets pitchers: -39.5% WPA
Mets hitters: -10.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Lindor two-run homer off Bryce Elder, 21.6% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Marcell Ozuna go-ahead hit off Drew Smith, -18.5% WPA