ATLANTA — It’s hard to leave anything out over the plate and get away with it against the Braves.
Jacob deGrom learned that lesson the hard way on Friday night.
The Mets ace flashed his dominant form but when he made a mistake, the Braves were there to capitalize. Austin Riley, Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson each cranked solo home runs off deGrom as the Mets dropped the first game of their crucial series to the Braves, 5-2, in front of 42,402 fans at Truist Park.
The loss dropped the Mets back into a tie atop the National League East with the Braves. The Mets hold a 9-8 lead in the season series and need just one win in the teams’ next two games to grab what could be an important tiebreaker.
The Mets had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on an RBI single by Luis Guillorme, but the Braves bounced back quickly. Riley launched a hanging slider over the wall in center field and Olson made it back-to-back home runs by ripping a fastball over the middle into the right-center field seats.
In both cases, deGrom fell behind in the count. In each case, the Braves made him pay.
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DeGrom received a little bit of help from Francisco Lindor in the bottom of the third. After Orlando Arcia knocked a leadoff single and moved over to second, Michael Harris II lined a sharp ground ball over the mound with two outs. Lindor gloved it behind second base and caught Arcia trying to round third for an inning-ending rundown.
The Mets ace settled in, picking up five straight strikeouts and seven consecutive outs between the fourth and sixth innings before Swanson ripped his 23rd home run of the season to left.
Rough patch for Jacob deGrom
After making a rousing return from a four-month IL stint with a stress reaction in his right shoulder, Jacob deGrom has struggled in the month of September.
He was coming off his worst start since 2019 last time out when he gave up five earned runs on six hits and four walks across four innings in a loss to the Pirates.
The swings and misses have continued, but the opposition has been able to find some cracks across deGrom’s four starts. He has now given up three earned runs or more in each of his last four starts as his ERA has leapt from 1.66 to 3.08
In those four starts, deGrom has still amassed 39 strikeouts or 9.75 per start.
Tylor Megill mashed
With the Mets trailing by two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Buck Showalter called upon Tylor Megill to try and keep their deficit there.
Megill, who was making his fifth relief appearance since returning from a right shoulder strain, dug himself into a hole that he could emerge from.
He gave up a single to Olson followed by a double from Travis d’Arnaud to lead off the inning. After the Braves’ fourth run crossed on a sacrifice fly, Orlando Arcia moved them ahead 5-1 with a double into the left-center field gap.
Megill gave up two earned runs on three hits in ⅔ inning before Trevor May ended the frame with a strikeout of Ronald Acuna Jr.
Megill, who made nine starts earlier in the season, was supposed to be auditioning for a postseason bullpen role but it has not gone as planned. In his five relief appearances this month, Megill has allowed four earned runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Francisco Alvarez has tough debut
In his first major league game of his career, Francisco Alvarez came up in the biggest spot of the game.
With the bases loaded, one out in the top of the ninth and the Truist Park crowd on his feet, Alvarez waved through a cutter from Kenley Jansen as his bat went flying. He ended up finishing the night 0-for-4 despite some hard contact.
The Mets’ top prospect, who was called up with Darin Ruf placed on the 10-day injured list with a neck strain, also came up with a big opportunity from the No. 7 spot in the lineup with two runners on and no outs in the top of the second.
But on the first pitch of his major league career, Alvarez roped a sharp ground ball right at Riley at third base to jump-start a Braves double play.
On his second swing in the top of the fifth inning, Alvarez fanned at a fastball from Max Fried as his bat sailed into the netting behind home plate. On the seventh pitch of his at-bat, Alvarez hit a ground ball off the end of his bat to first base.
With Eduardo Escobar on second base in the top of the seventh, Alvarez knocked a deep fly ball to center field, but it was tracked down by Harris.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism