The new kids on the block strutted their stuff.
Tyler Naquin hit two home runs and Daniel Vogelbach added his second long ball in two days as the Mets scored a 6-4 win over the Atlanta Braves in the opener of a pivotal five-game series Thursday night at CitiField.
The win left the Mets (66-38) 4½ games up on second place Atlanta (63-43), five in the loss column.
Carlos Carrasco (12-4) gave the Mets another quality start with six solid innings while Edwin Diaz recorded a six out save for the first time in his career.
Carrasco tossed six innings and gave up three runs on four hits with one walk and six strikeouts in navigating a tough lineup. “Just go with the best pitch and the best way to get them out. That’s what we did today,” the Mets starter said after the game.
The Mets right hander benefitted from a sparkling home debut by Tyler Naquin, who hit two home runs and Daniel Vogelbach, who homered for the second straight day.
The duo has fit in quite well as the Mets won for the ninth time in their last ten games. “We knew what they [Naquin and Vogelbach) were capable of from a track record standpoint,” said Mets Manager Buck Showalter. “Its shown itself a little bit early on, why they were good fits for our needs.”
Showalter went to his closer in the eighth with a two run lead because the Braves had some of their better hitters scheduled to bat. “He had five days off. He had what, a 10, 11 pitch eighth,” Showalter said in explaining his decision to use Diaz for six outs. “Just wanted him to face that part of the order in the eighth and see where the game dictated.”
Diaz took care of business in the eighth by striking out Austin Riley and Matt Olson and then retired Dansby Swanson on a ground out to shortstop.
In the ninth, Diaz allowed a lead off single to Eddie Rosario, but Travis d’Arnaud flied out to right and Marcell Ozuna struck out swinging. The final batter, Orlando Arcia, hit a check swing grounder back to Diaz on a 3-0 pitch and the Mets closer took it himself to first base for the final out of his 24th save.
“Ol’ kid” Pete Alonso got the party started with an RBI single in the first. After Starling Marte reached on an infield single with one out, Francisco Lindor walked. Alonso then lined a pitch into left field from Braves starter and loser Kyle Wright to score Marte with the first run.
Wright was red hot coming into the game, having won seven straight decisions and 10 of his last 11, but the Mets were able to get to him for six runs and four home runs in six innings pitched.
In the second inning, Naquin hit his first home run of the night, a solo shot with two out to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
The Mets added on in the third with a two out rally. Lindor walked for a second time and Alonso lined a 1-1 breaking ball over the left field wall for a two run home run and a 4-0 lead. It was Alonso’s 29th home run and the three ribbies gave him 91 for the season.
The crowd of 38,693 was still enjoying Alonso’s home run when the other newcomer, Vogelbach delighted the fans with his second home run as a Met to make it 5-0.
Both Naquin and Vogelbach have fit right in. “We knew what they were capable of from a track record standpoint. It’s shown itself a little bit early on, why they were good fits for our needs,” Showalter said.
Atlanta got back in the game in the fifth inning. With two out and former Met Travis d’Arnaud on second, Michael Harris singled to score the first run. That ended Carrasco’s career long scoreless streak at 23 1/3 innings. Ronald Acuna Jr followed with a two run home run to cut the Mets’ lead to 5-3.
In the sixth, to the absolute delight of his family in the stands, Naquin hit an opposite field home run to left for his second home run of the game and a 6-3 lead. The new outfielder became the first Met to have a multiple home run game in his first home game with the team.
Naquin said the Met fans gave him a better reception than he got while he came in as a visitor. “Fans, they have different words for you but you expect that kinda stuff,” he said.
Adam Ottavino came on to pitch the seventh. After getting the first two outs, Arcia singled up the middle and took second on a wild pitch. Harris followed with a hit to center field that hit the second base bag so it couldn’t be knocked down as Arcia scored and the Braves were within one.
After Harris stole second on an 0-2 pitch, Ottavino threw his best slider of the inning to strike out Acuna Jr swinging.
So, the Mets draw first blood in their biggest series of the season. Showalter knows the season won’t be decided in the next few days. “We’re not gonna put too much on one game, we got a lot of baseball left, not only here in the next three days but down the road,” he said.