A complete Mets, playing the best baseball game of the season and establishing their promise against a team with goodwill for post-season.
They entered a five-game set against the Braves for first place in the NL East, and the Mets would finish the series in the same spot after riding four runs at home to a 6-4 win over the world champion in front of 38,693 sweating fans on a humid Thursday night at Citi Field.
Manager Buck Showalter’s club, who led 4 games/in Atlanta, won nine out of 10 and started to re-advance the shrinking division.
The Mets (67-38) led the NL East by 10 games/₂ on June 1 before that lead was reduced to half of the game by July 23. But since Atlanta got such close, stellar play and dominant action from Edwin Diaz, the players have settled back to health on the Mets.
Catcher James McCann returned to the squad on Thursday, a day after Trevor May returned to the mall. Atlanta will face the healthy Max Scherzer (Saturday) and Jacob Degrom (Sunday). The Braves got a first-time bitter taste for the Mets’ recent additions, with left-footed Tyler Naken playing twice in his first home game in Queens, while Daniel Vogelbach pulled off his second home goal in as many days.
As if they showed they could score in different ways when the occasion came up, the Mets used both the small ball and the long ball to create a lead they didn’t give up.
In the first half, Starling Marte hit a single, moved up to second on an outing to Francisco Lindor and scored a goal on Pete Alonso’s RBI song.
Then the Mets rotated to the long ball.
Naquin’s first hit as the Met resulted in Homer’s second turn, the eighth of the season. Alonso, who went 2-for-3 with three other RBIs to reach 91 on the year, took a foul curve ball in the third inning and destroyed it for Homer’s two-round run, his 29th of the year. Four pitches later, Vogelbach, in the lineup against the Braves right start Kyle Wright, Homer shot to the right.
This was all the goals the Mets needed, although there were two fears from Carlos Carrasco and the Mets base until Diaz closed the door.
Carrasco, who pushed his goal-free innings streak to 22²/innings, was rolling into the fifth round. The Mets righty, who posted a 0.90 ERA in July, only allowed one hit in their first four tires, but Michael Harris of Atlanta II threw an RBI before Carraso threw a thrilling slide to Ronald Acuña Jr., who brought home the twice-brave running Homer in the course of 5-3.
They didn’t come close. The Mets scored an overtime in the sixth on Homer Naquin’s second of the game, and the Braves answered with one round against Adam Ottavino in the seventh inning. But with a runner and Acuña on board, Ottavino’s best slide at night rocks the swinging star.
Showalter Diaz, who has not played since Friday, was called up for his first six titles of the season. And as Diaz has done all season, he has obligated.
Diaz, who placed the Braves in the rankings at number eight, succumbed to an advanced song by Eddie Rosario in the ninth. Then he made Travis Darno fly, hit Marcel Ozuna and carried Orlando Arcia back up the hill with the crowd on her feet. Diaz has not allowed running in his past 16 matches and has scored his 24th and perhaps the biggest goal.
The Mets have won five of their eight games this season against the Braves, with four more this weekend before their last seven head-to-head battles in Atlanta.
Perhaps it is better for the revitalized Mets that the bravest part of the schedule is loaded again. Mets are healthy, reloaded and rolled.