The Braves fell to the Mets again on Tuesday, losing 4-3 on a ninth-inning solo homer from New York catcher Tomas Nido. The Atlanta offense was stifled by the Mets staff despite their utilization of a so-called ‘bullpen game’ that kept Braves hitters off balance all evening.
Braves starter Tucker Davidson was impressive in this one, holding the Mets to three runs across six innings. The left-hander allowed five hits with one walk and five strikeouts, significantly besting his major league debut from a year ago. Davidson featured a mid-90’s fastball with a slider, curveball, and changeup that he utilized effectively to keep the Braves within striking distance.
The first Mets runs came courtesy of a third-inning, two-run homer from Jonathan Villar. This came on the heels of a Tommy Hunter one-out single that allowed Villar to bat with a runner on base, for which Davidson paid dearly.
The Braves were held scoreless until the fifth inning, when Austin Riley broke the dam with a massive blast to right field, giving him homers in back-to-back games. Both homers were to right-center field, which is encouraging for the young third baseman, who has become the hottest hitter in an otherwise quiet Braves lineup.
The Mets answered in the sixth inning with a single run, which scored on a Pete Alonso sac fly, to push their lead to 3-1. Freddie Freeman closed the gap back to one in the bottom-half of the inning, hitting a mammoth homer to dead center field to pull the Braves back within one. This tied Freeman for the National League lead in homers with teammate Ronald Acuna, which makes it all the more perplexing that Atlanta has struggled to score runs of late.
Davidson exited following the sixth inning, giving way to Luke Jackson, who fired a scoreless seventh. Tyler Matzek worked the eighth, setting the stage for a potential comeback by the offense in the bottom-half of the inning. This plan appeared to be in motion when Ehire Adrianza led off with an acrobatic double, then Acuna walked to put runners on first and second for Freddie Freeman. Mets reliever Jeurys Familia subsequently jammed Freeman, getting him to roll into a double play, which put the tying run on third base with two outs. With the scoring opportunity hanging in the balance, Marcell Ozuna came through with an RBI single to right field, which tied the game. His bat paid the price, but it was well worth the lumber given the situation.
After a strikeout of Ozzie Albies ended the Atlanta scoring threat, the Braves brought in closer Will Smith to work the ninth inning. The left-hander retired the first two Mets hitters before Tomas Nido stepped to plate and blasted a 1-0 fastball into the seats in left-center field, giving New York a 4-3 lead.
The Braves were once again faced with Edwin Diaz in the ninth, and were once again denied the opportunity to tie the game. Dansby Swanson struck out for the third time in the game to lead things off, then Riley struck out, and the game ended with a Pablo Sandoval fly out to center field.
The Braves struck out a staggering 15 times in this game, making the Mets bullpen look incredibly formidable despite them being stretched relatively thin during the bullpen game. Atlanta has become very strikeout prone and has relied very heavily on home runs to generate offense. The club is now 19-23 on the season and will need to right the ship quickly, with the hope of salvaging at least one game from this series before the Mets leave town on Wednesday.