In what will be at most the second wettest game at Citi Field this week – fan tears on Saturday for David Wright’s final game will be a flood – Noah Syndergaard took the mound against the Braves. Atlanta, having already clinched the NL East, is fighting for home field advantage with Touki Toussaint, one of their bevy of young arms, on the mound.
The Mets, meanwhile, are playing out the string with Austin Jackson in center, Jay Bruce at first, and Peter Alonso at home. Maybe there’s a lesson there.
Noah Syndergaard, looking like he just got out of the shower, was shaky coming out of the gate. The right-hander worked around a Freddie Freeman double and a walk in the first, then a leadoff walk to Kurt Suzuki in the second. Thor finally managed a clean inning in the third, and the Mets offense promptly rewarded him.
After the Mets managed no decent contact against Touki Toussaint the first time through the order, Amed Rosario led off with a hard fly ball to center. That was an out, but the next three Mets all hit the ball hard as well. Jeff McNeil singled up the middle, Michael Conforto missed a home run by about an inch and settled for an RBI double and Jay Bruce ripped a single through the shift for an RBI single. In a three batter stretch, the Mets had built a 2-0 lead.
With the weather drying out and the Mets on top, Syndergaard settled in. He induced a double play in the fourth to erase a single, put the Braves down in order in the fifth and navigated a single from Ender Inciarte in the sixth to finish his outing. Syndergaard tossed six shutout innings, striking out five, walking two and giving up three hits. It wasn’t quite the dominant version of Thor we’ve seen in years past, but it was one of his better outings of the year, especially considering that Mickey Callaway said postgame that Syndergaard was sick and almost didn’t pitch. It also put he in line for his seventh straight win at Citi Field, which had never been done, as well as his first career win against the Braves.
A sacrifice fly from Tomas Nido stretched the Met lead to 3-0. This is the Mets, however, and starting pitchers aren’t allowed to get wins. Robert Gsellman – with the help of a dropped fly ball from Austin Jackson, who is still inexplicably employed by the Mets – gave up a run, recorded one out and left with the bases loaded. Drew Smith entered, threw a wild pitch, then gave up a two-run single to Ronald Acuña.
It seems fitting to mention here that the Mets have the worst winning percentage in the National League when leading after six innings. True to form, the Mets squandered scoring opportunities in the seventh, let the Braves blow things open in the eighth, then went quietly to their 84th loss of the season.
Thoughts from the Game
This game fits an irritatingly common pattern for the season. A starter pitches excellently for six or seven innings, departs with a narrow lead or with the game tied, then immediately watches as the bullpen blows the lead and the offense does nothing to help. It’s extremely frustrating to watch as a fan and must be even more maddening for Jacob deGrom. Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler. It also highlights the most glaring needs on this Met team: at least two and preferably three high quality bullpen arms need to be acquired in the offseason, and the offense must be improved by addressing holes at catcher, center field, and first base.
Given all that, get ready for the Mets to re-sign Devin Mesoraco and Austin Jackson, bring in Brad Brach and call it an offseason.
Other Met News
David Wright is back, making this a very bittersweet week for us all. He most likely will not appear in this series against the Braves, as they still fight for home field advantage in the playoffs. For now, we’ll just have to enjoy seeing him in the dugout again and look forward to his farewell game on Saturday.