ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves have quite possibly one of the deepest lineups in baseball. The Mets assembled a starting pitching rotation that they believed could counter that lineup.
But if the big-game pitchers don’t get any run support then it doesn’t matter. Once again, the Mets offense failed to show up for an ace and they lost 4-2 to the Braves on Saturday night at Truist Park.
The Mets (98-60) came into the series leading the NL East by a single game. The Amazins’ are now trailing Atlanta (99-59) by a game and their chances of clinching the division are looking slimmer each day.
The Braves lineup did what it does best to win a crucial series: Pounded pitchers out of the park. The club leads the National League in home runs and they hit two of them against Max Scherzer on Saturday.
Scherzer was tagged for four runs over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked none. It was not his best outing, but the margin for error was thin with the way the Mets were swinging the bats.
For the second time in as many games, the Mets struck first, getting a run off Kyle Wright (21-5) in the first inning. The Braves tied the game in the fourth and a two-out rally in the top of the fifth gave the Mets a brief 2-1 lead.
But Dansby Swanson took Scherzer deep into the left-center seats for a two-run shot to put Atlanta up 4-1 in the sixth. Scherzer threw him a four-seam fastball right over the middle and he drove it 432 feet.
Matt Olson led off the sixth with a home run as well. It was the second time in as many nights Swanson and Olson homered off a Mets starter. They both took Jacob deGrom deep in the first game of the series, as did Austin Riley, who went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
The middle of the order continues to torment the Mets. It’s not surprising considering just how stacked this lineup is.
Wright was 1-4 against the Mets in seven previous starts and 0-2 this season. The Mets made him work for it in the first inning forcing him to throw 30 pitches but he settled in and limited them to just two runs on seven hits. The Braves bullpen limited the Mets to just a single base-runner through four innings and Kenley Jansen recorded his 39th save with a perfect ninth.
Scherzer and deGrom might not have had their best stuff but the bottom line is that stringing together only two runs isn’t good enough, especially when the stakes are this high.