If you’re going to play two, you can win both of them as well.
The Mets won over Atlanta – likely to be their toughest test in the division this year – in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader. With the pairing to win (the first from a score of 5-4, the second a more comfortable 3-0), the Mets are now 18-8 and easily leading the division.
“It was a good day for us,” Buck Showalter said later. “We’ve got another challenge tomorrow. We’re playing three games in less than 24 hours.”
In the first game, the Mets dodged a bullet in the shape of a big, fat E1 on Tuesday afternoon after what could have been a critical fielding mistake by pitcher David Peterson was nothing more than a footnote.
In that gray afternoon game, the Mets’ 5–1 lead quickly turned 5–4 when Matt Olsson, following a Petersen mistake, cracked three runs in the Braves’ bullpen. Peterson, the clearly awkward man whenever Jacob deGrom returns from his scapula injury, was solid, but again unappealing.
His last line (five innings, four hits, four runs, six strikes) would have been pretty if he had been able to convert the returning OG Albiz into a double at the end of an innings. Instead, Albiz became a base runner before Olsson’s home run, and a run that made a leisurely walk in the park a little more stressful.
So it pays to have talent in the batsman’s box.
The Mets got all their RBI in the first game from Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso – their current superstars – as well as Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, two transformative acquisitions from the off-season. Travis Jankowski (who was signed to a minor league deal three weeks before the season began) added two hits and scored three crucial runs, while maintaining the leadoff spot as a first-time mate.
“He’s excited to be a guy going to his first game in Little League, playing today and going forward,” Showalter said of Jankowski, a man who readily admitted after the game that he was going to play that game. Not the type of player that causes fans to buy their jerseys. “People like him and [Luis] Guillorme brings it up in situations like this. Trav has been a pro. That’s why we wanted to keep him. He brings some of the tools we need. He’s a great piece for us.”
The second game went at a similarly fast pace, a likely combination of prolonged fatigue and very subtle starting pitching. Both starters finished seven innings, but Mets Carlos Carrasco entered a season-high eight, conceded zero runs, and emerged victorious over Atlanta’s Kyle Wright.
“I wanted to throw as many innings as I could to save the bullpen, and everything turned out the way I wanted it to,” Carrasco said.
On Tuesday night, Carrasco allowed a double leadoff to Ronald Acuna Jr. to start the game, then allowed only five more hits for the night.
The Mets’ offense in the second game was limited to the first and sixth innings. Dom Smith cut a two-run double into the left-field corner to congratulate Wright, and Alonso piled the other way with a single shot, putting the Braves’ incident into more holes.
Smith’s at-bat in the sixth inning made for some more intrigue when Max Scherzer was ejected from the dugout after arguing a third strike call. Scherzer, who was only kicked out of games in which he did not pitch, later told reporters that his comments to the umpire included profanity and that he was simply saying what Smith was unable to.
Alonso’s home run was not only great insurance, but it also ensured that the Braves’ unwavering defense would not spoil the opportunity. The first game saw Olsson spread across the grass in the wrong field to make a diving catch On Tomas Nido’s bunt attempt. Later in the same game, Albiz matched that with his own diving snag, trapping a hard-hit ball in shallow right field and firing first to hit Lindor.
The biggest defensive game of the day, though a fairly easy one, came from a Mets outfielder. With the Mets leading 5–4 in the seventh inning of the first game, Olsen came back again, this time to face reliever Drew Smith. Olsson completed the count before taking the sixth pitch for a ball, sending off an equally powerful Austin Riley.
Riley came in for hacking, closing two pitches. On the 2-2 count, his bat cracked through the tense Citi field, sending hearts to throats and outfielders to the warning track. But Starling Marte had just enough room – right where the right-center field fence jumps past the 380-foot mark – to make the catch.
Smith also came back in eighth place and set up the Braves in the order. The unplayed pitcher has now started his season with 10 straight scoreless appearances, giving him a 0.00 ERA in 11.1 innings. Smith, like his name on the offensive side, who played a timely 4-for-4 game on Sunday, played too well to send him down during recent roster cuts for the Mets.
After playing two more clean innings, Smith said, ‘I can’t think too much about what has happened in the past. “You just have to reset every now and then. It’s a good start, but it’s barely May. It’s a long season.”
Edwin Diaz trumpets came in ninth, and with Smith already getting through the thick of Atlanta’s lineup, the Voltaic Mets were close for their fifth save of the season.
After Carrasco’s eight-innings mastery of the Braves lineup in game two, Diaz’s services were not required, as Seth Lugo closed things down for a quick finale.