'Frustrated' Mets look for way back after another blown lead

June 9th, 2023

ATLANTA -- The Mets’ customized WWE Championship belt sat in a locker in the Braves’ visiting clubhouse while New York players were mostly silent. After blowing three-run leads in three straight games against their rivals, the Mets understood they must now focus on staying afloat in the National League.

New York dropped the finale, 13-10, to the Braves in extra innings on Thursday at Truist Park, after Orlando Arcia hit a homer in the ninth to force extra innings and Ozzie Albies sealed the win on a walk-off three-run home run off ’s cutter in the 10th. Not only did the Mets get swept and fall 8 1/2 games behind in the division, but they have lost six straight games. The latest defeat came on a night in which the Mets had 14 hits -- tied for the third most they have had this season.

“We're frustrated,” said , who allowed the game-tying homer. “You can sense it. You see it. We're not playing well. We know it. We're a good team. We're just not doing what we need to do.”

On Tuesday, New York had a 4-1 lead in the third that turned into a 6-4 Braves victory, after Atlanta scored four runs in the sixth. On Wednesday, the Mets were in a similar situation, up 4-1 but this time in the fifth. But Michael Harris II’s go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth gave the home team another comeback victory.

In the finale, it was the same formula. After the Braves took a 3-0 lead in the first, center fielder hit his first career grand slam on the first pitch in the second to put the Mets ahead, 5-3. When asked if his homer felt like a turning point, Nimmo brushed it off.

“Not to me,” Nimmo said. “I kind of felt like, ‘This is going to be a high-scoring game, so we better keep our feet on the pedal.’ … Because it just kind of had that feel of both offenses were clicking, and we know what Atlanta is always capable of.”

The Mets led 10-7 in the eighth, but like the Braves did in the first two matchups of the series, they clawed back. This time, Travis d’Arnaud's eighth-inning homer made it a one-run game, setting the stage for Arcia’s homer in the ninth.

“It's been tough the last three days,” Nimmo said. “Honestly, we probably could have come out of here with a sweep ourselves. But that's the way that things go.”

Thursday was very indicative of that.

The Mets finally had the offensive explosion they were seeking, after being capped off at four runs in seven of the past eight games. And it happened without MLB’s home-run leader , who returned to New York early to have an MRI on the left wrist that was struck with a Charlie Morton fastball on Wednesday.

Rookie had one of the best offensive games of his big league career, hitting a two-run home run against Spencer Strider in the fourth and a solo homer in the sixth off Michael Tonkin. Five batters had at least two hits, but, following the same script as the first two games, the offense eventually went cold. This time, it happened in the final four innings, as the Mets only recorded one hit and three walks in their last 16 at-bats of the game.

“That’s a good club over there,” manager Buck Showalter said. “… We just couldn't get the last out, came close. Almost a great win for us, just like the first two. Just didn’t pitch quite as well as they did.”

only lasted three innings, and five of the Mets’ six relievers to make an appearance gave up at least a run. Though his slider was effective, causing a 46% whiff rate, Verlander allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits. His fastball was put in play 10 times, including on an Austin Riley two-run homer in the first inning, which marked Verlander’s fifth homer given up in the opening frame. The 40-year-old’s outing marked the latest episode of a roller-coaster stretch over his past five starts.

“Feast or famine, it seems,” Verlander said. “Yeah, it is. I’ve been working my ass off, trying to make it click. Every time I think I kind of found it, it goes the other direction. So, it's definitely -- not kind of -- it's definitely frustrating for me [and] everybody, I'm sure.”