Last night, the Mets jumped all over Kyle Wright and then hung on as the Braves tried to rally. Tonight, the Braves crushed Taijuan Walker, and despite more struggles from Ian Anderson, locked it down with a 9-6 win.
This game had the look of a straight laugher early. Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson hit back-to-back doubles with one out in the first to score the game’s first run. After Walker plunked Austin Riley, Eddie Rosario hit a fly ball into the Citi Field right-field corner that landed behind the fence for a three-run homer that was both barreled and had a sub-50 percent hit probability.
In the bottom of the inning, Ian Anderson nearly gave a couple back, but Ronald Acuña Jr. robbed Pete Alonso of extra bases, and possibly a homer, with a jumping catch to end the frame.
Giving up four in the first is bad, but also giving up three more in the second is worse. It was not a good day for Walker, to say the least. Michael Harris II led off the top of the inning with his tenth homer of the year. Acuña singled, stole second, and scored on a flare into right by Swanson. Olson then singled up the middle, forcing Buck Showalter’s hand in removing Walker from the game. A forceout from Riley off new pitcher Trevor Williams scored the seventh run, and Eddie Rosario continued his rampage by doubling to left-center, giving the Braves a second consecutive four-run frame.
After that, the offense stopped raking. They loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch, another Acuña single, and a walk in the third, but Riley rolled out with two outs and the bases loaded. Harris was thrown out trying to extend a double in the fifth, followed by a third Acuña single, but again, nothing crossed the plate Joely Rodriguez tossed a scoreless sixth, Mychal Givens a scoreless seventh, and Tommy Hunter a scoreless eighth despite Acuña’s fourth single of the night. The Braves finally added a tack-on run in the ninth, when William Contreras took Hunter deep to right-center for a solo shot.
While the top halves of the innings were relatively uneventful, the Mets valiantly tried to come back. With two outs in the second, Ian Anderson gave up a single and then back-to-back walks. Brandon Nimmo singled into center to make it 8-1, but Harris threw a strike to home plate that gunned down a second potential run and got Anderson out of the inning. Anderson allowed a single and a walk in the third, but got two strikeouts in a scoreless frame. He walked another in a scoreless fourth.
The fifth was when he couldn’t dance through the raindrops any more. A weak single against the shift by Francisco Lindor, a hard-hit single by Alonso following a pitch that nearly hit him in the face, and a roller through the right side by Jeff McNeil made it 8-2. That was it for Anderson, who finished with a 3/4 K/BB ratio, another ineffectual start that continued the ping-pong-y nature of his season. Dylan Lee came on to face Tyler Naquin, but it wasn’t Tyler Naquin at all, because pinch-hitting and platoons exist. Instead, Darin Ruf hit a looping double that Acuña probably should’ve caught but didn’t, scoring two runs. Then Eduardo Escobar pinch-hit against Lee as well, and hit an RBI single of his own, making it 8-5.
Lee retired Nimmo on a weird bunt try to start the bottom of the sixth, then gave way to Collin McHugh, who got a strikeout but then allowed a hit and walked Alonso. That forced A.J. Minter into the game, and Minter struck out pinch-hitter Mark Canha (all the platoons!) to end that inning. Minter stayed in for the seventh and threw a 1-2-3 frame, the only one the Braves had in the game, with two strikeouts. Raisel Iglesias made his Braves debut in the eighth and retired three straight after a leadoff double, including back-to-back strikeouts to end the frame. Kenley Jansen slammed the door in the ninth, though McNeil took him deep to cap the scoring.
Having evened the series, the Braves will now prep for a day-night doubleheader. Acuña’s four-hit game was his first since June 5; every Brave had a hit except Marcell Ozuna (0-for-5) and Orlando Arcia (0-for-4). Three of the Mets’ four barrels in this game went for outs, including two by Alonso and one by Ruf.