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Surprise! The Mets beat the Braves

Six strong innings from Senga and other delights carry the Mets

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After their worst three-game stretch of the season, the Mets entered the final game of their series against the Braves simply trying to appear competitive. And surpassing those expectations, they actually mustered an impressive 7-6 victory Sunday night at Citi Field.

Mets’ starter Kodai Senga had trouble finding the strike zone in the first inning, walking two batters after allowing a leadoff single to Ronald Acuña Jr. With the bases loaded and one out, Marcell Ozuna cleared them all on a double to right field, tormenting the Mets once again and opening up an early 3-0 lead. Considering how lopsided the first three games in the series finished, no one would have been questioned for thinking this game was already over. But the Mets brought some surprises.

Senga settled down after the first inning, retiring thirteen batters in a row and finishing with six strong innings against the most fearsome lineup in baseball. The Mets offense debuted in the third inning, putting a run on the board thanks to a Jeff McNeil RBI single, though both Pete Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach came up empty with chances to tie the game or take the lead.

Back-to-back singles from Rafael Ortega and Brandon Nimmo in the bottom of the fifth inning set the table for Francisco Lindor, who marked an RBI on a ground ball force-out. McNeil’s subsequent single gave the middle of the order another chance to affect the lead, an opportunity that looked lost after Alonso grounded into another force out for the second out of the inning.

But then: more surprises. Back-to-back walks to Vogelbach and Omar Narváez tied the game and knocked Atlanta starter Yonny Chirinos out of the game, and with a chance to give the Mets their first lead of the series, Mark Vientos drew a third-straight walk to make it 4-3. A catcher’s interference call sent DJ Stewart to first and another runner to the plate, while Ortega’s second single of the inning made it 7-3. The Mets, who scored just four runs in their previous three games, scored six runs in one inning.

But the feel-good fifth inning was too wonderful to last, right? Well, Grant Hartwig replaced Senga to start the seventh inning and immediately allowed a solo home run to Sean Murphy, drawing healthy groans from Mets fans as the bullpen got to work. After shutting down the next four batters, Hartwig left the game and Brooks Raley came in with a runner on in the top of the eighth to face Atlanta’s hottest batter. Matt Olson got the better of him, as his two-run home run cut the lead to 7-6. And even though Drew Smith finished the inning, the Braves had crawled back into the game.

Considering the tone of the series, the ending of this game should have involved the Braves scoring at least another run in the ninth to extend the game, but the Mets had one more surprise left in them. After getting two quick outs to start the inning, Adam Ottavino got Acuña to ground out to end the game, giving the wounded Mets a rare win over a juggernaut Braves team playing their best baseball of the season.

As a reward, the Mets host the Pirates tomorrow, with Carlos Carrasco scheduled to pitch against a Pittsburgh starter to be determined, with the first pitch at 7:10 ET.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Jeff McNeil, +19% WPA

Big Mets loser: Pete Alonso, -16% WPA

Mets pitchers: -3% WPA

Mets hitters: +53% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Omar Narváez walk, +15.9% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Marcell Ozuna RBI double, -19.5% WPA