ATLANTA — True to form, Jacob deGrom was mostly dominant Friday night at Truist Park. But his mistakes were big and the Atlanta Braves made him pay for three mistakes he made right down the middle.
The Mets fell 5-2 and the two teams are now tied atop the NL East standings with 98-59 records.
With a packed crowd on hand to see a series that will likely determine the winner of the division, the Mets had their ace on the hill facing Atlanta’s ace, left-hander Max Fried. They started out well with deGrom retiring the side in order in the first and the Mets taking a 1-0 lead on Fried and the Braves in the top of the second.
But the lead was short-lived as deGrom then gave up back-to-back home runs to Austin Riley and Matt Olson in the bottom of the frame. He would give up another one to Dansby Swanson in the sixth to put the Mets in a 3-0 hole.
This was deGrom’s second straight loss (5-4) and though it wasn’t quite as bad as the last time out, the two-time Cy Young Award winner was clearly frustrated. DeGrom allowed only the three solo shots and two other hits for five over six innings. He struck out 11, including five straight over the fourth and fifth innings, and walked none.
Meanwhile, Fried (14-8) was nearly unhittable for five innings, exiting with an illness after just 71 pitches. Maybe we’ll look back on this game and call it Fried’s flu game, as the Mets managed only one run on four hits off him, all singles. He struck out three and did not issue a walk before the Bally Sports cameras caught him nearly vomiting into a trash can in the dugout.
Tylor Megill took over for deGrom in the seventh and was tagged for two immediately. Matt Olson singled to lead off and former Mets’ catcher Travis d’Arnaud doubled him home. A fly ball by Eddie Rosario scored d’Arnaud to make it 5-1 in favor of the home team.
Tomas Nido cut the lead to three runs with a solo home run in the eighth and Eduardo Escobar, who drove in all five Mets runs in a 5-4 win over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday, went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. But it’s clear that the offensive struggles from earlier in the week have carried over.
In an attempt to spark some offense at the DH spot, the Mets called up top prospect Francisco Alvarez and hit him seventh behind Escobar. He had a few good at-bats but ultimately went 0-for-4 in his debut, and struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth. It was the only time the Mets truly threatened in the game.
Tyler Naquin battled Kenley Jansen (38 saves) with two outs and the bases loaded but ultimately struck out on a nine-pitch at-bat.