Well here we go, another big test for the Mets this weekend as they faced off against the division leading Atlanta Braves on what is being billed as “Players Weekend.” A night where the Mets were dressed head to toe in white with white numbers and lettering. The Braves wore all black and when they were in the field it looked like they had seven infielders as the umpires also were all in black.
Another brilliant marketing night by MLB.
But none of that bothered Mets starter Jacob deGrom who came into the game needing just six strikeouts to amass 200 for the fourth time in his career. He easily did that in the fourth inning when he retired Adeiny Hechavarria on a 93 slider, his fourth in a row to retire the side. At one point deGrom struck out a total of eight in a row and had a total of 13 with 1 run, 4 hits and a walk over seven innings.
An amazing display of pitching by easily one of the top five pitchers in baseball. Too bad the analytically controlled baseball robots will not allow pitchers to throw over a certain amount for fear of their arms exploding. He was headed for possibly a crowd pleasing monster strikeout performance for the 37,437 in attendance. His only problem was that his team could not touch Braves starter Mike Foltnewicz who only gave up two hits over seven innings
So all things pointed to the Mets ace heading for another loss because of a lack of run support until he helped his own cause when he lead off the bottom of the sixth inning with a first pitch opposite field home run to left to tie the score at one apiece.
Jacob deGrom is the first pitcher in in the modern era to hit a home run and strikeout 13 batters twice in a season. The last time that happened was 1900.
“That little run, I just felt like I was able to locate whatever pitch I was throwing at the time,” he said.
This game between two evenly matched lineups, starters and bullpens took on the atmosphere of the postseason and only ended when there Braves pushed across one run in the top of the 14th inning off of Jeurys Familia. Another brilliant performance waisted by their ace and six out of seven relievers.
Edwin Diaz got out of a self inflicted jam in the 10th when he hit Alex Jackson leading off the inning. After pinch runner Billy Hamilton was advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Culberson and stole third with only one out, Diaz struck out both Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Albies to end the inning. That will be a big boost to his confidence as the Mets need him to step up his game and be the dominating closer he should be.
The Braves used six out of their pen and didn’t give up a run.The Mets struck out 25 Braves which set a franchise record and tied the major league record and there were a total of 39 strikeouts between the two teams. The Braves used two starting pitchers as pinch hitters in extra innings and the Mets used one (Steven Matz ) in the 14th inning and home plate umpire Marvin Hudson had to squat for 439 pitches in a game that took four hours and thirty seven minutes, ending just before midnight.
The bottom line still is that this was a game the Mets needed to win to set the stage for what will be a big weekend for them as they try move up in the chase for the wild card. This isn’t going to get any easier for them and they will be facing some stiff competition in the next few weeks.
“It’s frustrating,” Mets outfielder Michael Conforto said. “We had lots of opportunities, lots of extra inning opportunities, but also throughout the regulation nine innings. We didn’t have it today at the plate like we have in the past.”
The hitting has slowed down in the past few games but they have to be feeling good about the performances they are getting out of their bullpen of late.
Hopefully they can put this grueling tough loss behind them and start another long winning streak. This is a good ball club and they should bounce back.