The Braves clinched the division with their sixth win in a row. They couldn’t extend the streak to seven, as the Mets topped a partial lineup by a 4-3 score, behind Brandon Nimmo’s two homers and a good outing by Tylor Megill. No big deal, though, as this game has essentially no implications for anything. The Braves have definitely lost plenty of games like this one in 2021, but this loss doesn’t sting much at all, definitely not as badly as all of those other disappointing finishes.
Huascar Ynoa got the start in this game, and he was electric early on. He struck out the side in the top of the first with just 12 pitches, only one of which was a ball. But then came Tylor Megill, and he struck out the side on 11 pitches, only two of which were balls. (By the way, the Mets are now 4-0 in games that Megill has started against the Braves.) Ynoa gave up his first hit of the game to lead off the second, but promptly induced a double play and then another grounder, giving him an 11-pitch frame as well. Megill threw another perfect inning and then doubled off Ynoa in the third, but Ynoa struck out Brandon Nimmo on an inside slider to keep the game scoreless. The Braves got their first baserunner off Megill when William Contreras drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the inning, but nothing else happened in that half-inning to move him closer to home.
For whatever reason, Ynoa foundered in the fourth. The frame started with an eight-pitch walk to Francisco Lindor. After a strikeout, Pete Alonso came up and smashed a ball down the left-field line, scoring Lindor from first. Alonso advanced to third on the play; he was initially called out, but for some reason the Mets challenged the play in this game-of-little-consequence and got Alonso ruled safe. That ended up “mattering,” because James McCann flared a ball into left with two outs to drive Alonso home. Before this game, McCann had a 79 wRC+ on the season and a 192 wRC+ against the Braves, and I am going to be glad when I don’t have to think about the sheer ridiculousness of that factoid existing until next spring. After another single and a walk, the bases were loaded for Megill, but he didn’t double this time — instead, Ynoa struck him out on three straight sliders, each of which Megill swung on and missed.
The Braves got their first hit of Megill, an Ozzie Albies single up the middle, in the bottom of the inning. Albies then stole his 20th bag of the season, but also didn’t end up scoring. Unsurprisingly, the Mets tacked on against Ynoa in the fifth, with Nimmo hitting a leadoff homer on a fastball that wasn’t inside enough. Ynoa finished the outing with three runs, including a dinger, yielded in five innings of work, to go with six strikeouts and two walks. Megill finished his night with another perfect frame — he allowed just two baserunners (one hit, one walk) and no runs in five innings, garnering six punchouts in the process.
Jacob Webb was the first reliever on the ledger for Atlanta, and pitched a scoreless frame despite allowing back-to-back hits with none out. McCann randomly got picked off with one out, and two strikeouts kept it a 3-0 game. Jeurys Familia replaced Megill, struck out Webb (hitting for himself, because it’s the post-clinch game) and Joc Pederson, and then gave the Braves their first run on a single-wild pitch-double by Albies sequence.
The seventh was probably an intriguing inning for some Braves fans, because it featured Spencer Strider making his major league debut. Strider recorded his first career out by getting pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil to pop back to him, but then surrendered his first major league run and home run to Nimmo a few pitches later. The pitch that Nimmo hit his second homer of the night on was pretty similar to the one Ynoa got him to chase after Megill’s double in the third. Strider then allowed the first single of his career, but then got Javy Baez to swing over a hanging slider that became a double play.
The Braves got that run back almost immediately, as Eddie Rosario took Heath Hembree deep to start the bottom of the seventh. Contreras picked up a two-out single, but a pinch-hitting Dansby Swanson struck out looking on a slider well off the plate to keep it a two-run game. Like I said, the Braves have had a lot of losses that looked like this earlier, and this one just lacks the same bite, even with the same stuff happening.
The Braves got back-to-back debuts in this game, as Dylan Lee supplanted Strider in the eighth. Lee, unlike his compatriot-in-callup, did not yield a run: he gave up a leadoff single to Alonso, but a double play (the third one of the game for the Braves) and a strikeout gave Lee his first career scoreless frame. In the bottom of the inning, facing Trevor May, Ehire Adrianza smashed a dinger to right-center to make it 4-3. The Braves continued to threaten, as Austin Riley roped a two-out single and moved to third on Rosario’s bloop hustle double, but Orlando Arcia swung at a 3-0 pitch down the middle and hit it weakly to left (despite a huge swing) for the third out.
Chris Martin threw a six-pitch, scoreless top of the ninth, which meant the Braves had to score a single run off Edwin Diaz to keep the game alive. They didn’t. Guillermo Heredia flew out, Contreras struck out by missing three straight sliders (one hung, two were in the dirt and basically in the other batter’s box), and pinch-hitter Travis d’Arnaud missed a 3-2 slider on the corner to end the game.
The Braves will try to garner win number 87 tomorrow, since it didn’t happen today. Expect them to rest some of the other regulars (Albies and Riley played in this game). They also haven’t announced a starter, so we’ll see what happens.