It was showdown time at Citi Field, as the Mets had five games in four days against the despicable Atlanta Braves. The Mets had a ten-and-a-half-game lead against the Braves at the end of May. The lead was three and a half as the series began, with the Mets having the chance to open the lead or the Braves having the opportunity to climb into first place with the season's biggest series. The lead was cut to a half-game after the All-Star Break when Austin Riley opened his trap and proclaimed the Braves were coming for the Mets.
The Mets had Carlos Carrasco on the mound for the opener, as the Braves countered with Kyle Wright. The Mets got off to a strong start as Pete Alonso singled in a run in the first inning. While Carrasco was keeping the Braves off balance, the Mets were smacking Wright around. In the second inning, Tyler Naquin hit a home run in his first at-bat with the Mets at Citi Field. The Mets increased their lead to 5-0 in the third inning as Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach went back-to-back.
Carlos Carrasco was the Costco three-cookie package; for most of the game, he was the delicious Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin, but he got nutty in the fifth inning as the Braves scored three runs. This ended a 22-inning scoreless streak for Carrasco, his best stretch with the Mets. The Mets answered in the sixth inning as Naquin hit his second home run of the game. Carlos Carrasco left after six innings, allowing three runs on four hits, with six strikeouts.
The Braves scored a run against Adam Ottavino in the seventh and had their best hitters due up in the eighth. This situation led Buck Showalter to call in Edwin Diaz for a six-out save. It was pure dominance as Diaz struck out Matt Olson and Austin Riley in the eighth. Diaz gave up a leadoff hit to Eddie Rosario in the ninth but got a flyout by Travis d'Arnaud and a strikeout against Marcell Ozuna. There were two outs, but throwing more than he has all season, Edwin Diaz was running out of gas as he had a 3-0 count against Orlando Arcia. The next pitch was a feeble check swing that bounced back to Diaz to end the game, preserving a 6-4 win.
The Mets were wise going the distance in the first game, as it gave them the psychological edge the rest of the weekend. Buck Showalter, an experienced, savvy manager, knew that the Mets had an advantage in the last two games with Scherzer and deGrom pitching, so taking the opener gave them an edge, even if it put the Mets in a box for the game on Friday.
The worst pitching matchup was on Friday as the Braves had Ian Anderson facing Taijuan Walker, who has not pitched well in the second half. Walker was horrific, allowing four runs in the first and four in the second before Trevor Williams took the mound. Walker pitched one inning, allowing eight runs on seven hits in a nightmarish start. Williams pitched well, allowing four hits in four scoreless innings.
With Trevor Williams holding the Braves to eight runs, the Mets clawed their way back in the game, scoring four runs in the fifth to chase Anderson. The Mets would not get any closer as Dylan Lee came in and got Tomas Nido to fly out, representing the tying run. The Braves scored a run off Tommy Hunter in the ninth as Jeff McNeil homered, making the final score 9-6 in favor of the Braves.
Saturday in the summer heat of Citi Field was the longest day of the season, as a day-night doubleheader had David Peterson returning from Syracuse to start the opener against Jake Odorizzi, who was making his debut with the Braves. Peterson was strong but, as usual, had command issues as the Braves loaded the bases in the first inning with a walk and a hit batter. They would not score as Robbie Grossman lined out to Francisco Lindor at short. The Mets would not pass up their chance to score, as Pete Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach had RBI singles to give the Mets a 2-0 after one inning. The Mets added a third run in the third after they were helped out by an errant pickoff throw by Odorizzi.
David Peterson pitched five and a third inning, allowing three hits and three walks without a run, with five strikeouts. The Mets added two runs in the sixth on a ball that just missed clearing the fence in center field, resulting in a two-run double for Francisco Lindor. However, Atlanta answered in the seventh, scoring two runs off Seth Lugo, who struggled after retiring the last two batters in the sixth. The Mets would extend their lead again in the seventh, scoring three runs, with James McCann getting a rare RBI single.
With an 8-2 lead and an eye towards the nightcap, the Showalter called on Yoan Lopez to finish the game. Lopez got Dansby Swanson to fly out to right. However, the following four batters hit the ball hard, as the lead was cut to 8-4, with two runners in scoring position. It was time for trumpets; enter Edwin Diaz. One run scored on a ground ball, as William Contreras hit a sharp grounder to short. The next batter, Eddie Rosario, would go down swinging, as the Mets won the opener 8-5, with another save by Edwin Diaz.
Two hours later, it was a battle of the Maxes, as Max Scherzer faced off against Max Fried. Scherzer was dialed in, retiring the first five batters with four strikeouts. After a double by Travis d'Arnaud, Scherzer got Marcell Ozuna to pop up in foul territory. Max Fried would blink in the staredown with Max Scherzer, allowing three runs in the third inning. Pete Alonso again opened the scoring with a single. The Mets added two runs on a poor throw and a faceplant by Fried, as Darin Ruf's hustle avoided an inning-ending double play.
Max Scherzer would give the Mets seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits with 11 strikeouts. The closest Atlanta came to scoring was in the fifth inning, when Luis Guillorme seeing Travis d'Arnaud trying to score, threw him out with a perfect throw home. On a similar play in the sixth, the Mets scored as Pete Alonso was able to get his toe home past the tag of d'Arnaud, who was injured on the play, giving a perfect flashback to his terrible days with the Mets.
The Braves scored a run off Mychal Givens in the eighth, but the Mets answered again with Eduardo Escobar hitting a leadoff double and scoring on a hit by Tyler Naquin. They added a second run on a Tomas Nido sac-fly. In the ninth, Trevor May was called in to wrap up the game. After retiring the first two hitters, he allowed a harmless home run to William Contreras, ending the game one batter later by getting Ozuna to fly out to Naquin in left.
The Mets had a doubleheader sweep and a series win, and I had a ripped pair of pants thanks to the LIRR armrest; seriously, what is with that armrest?
Sunday was all about Jacob deGrom, who was making his first home start in 13 months. Jacob deGrom was dominant. The first 17 batters went down feebly, with deGrom striking out 12. The first 16 sliders he threw resulted in 16 swings and misses. With Jacob deGrom, proving to be unhittable, the Mets scored four runs in the third inning against Spence Strider. The first two runs were scored on a double by Pete Alonso. The subsequent two runs were scored on a double by Mark Canha, as Daniel Vogelbach rumbled home from first base. The Mets added a run in the fifth inning, as Jeff McNeil scored on a wild pitch by Colin McHugh.
In the sixth inning, reaching his 75-pitch limit, Jacob deGrom ran out of gas. He walked Ehire Adrianza and gave up a home run to Dansby Swanson before Joel Rodriguez got Matt Olson to ground into the shift. With the Mets bullpen taxed from the doubleheader, Rodriguez was called on to pitch the next two innings and delivered his finest outing of the season, allowing one hit with four strikeouts, as the Mets held a 5-2 lead in the ninth. Call on the trumpets, Edwin Diaz came in, and it was three strikeouts, as the Mets won 5-2 to take four of five in the series, striking out 19 Braves in the finale.