This was shaping up as a third straight surprising victory for the Mets at Truist Park. However, on the first pitch of the ninth inning from Jacob Barnes, Ronald Acuña Jr wiped away the Mets’ hopes of their first sweep in Atlanta since 2016 with a walk-off homer to center field. Despite the loss, the Mets have found some trustworthy and clutch bats hidden in their bench this series that they will need to get through this rough patch of injuries. They've also had to ask several of their relievers to assume new roles in key spots.
“We like the challenge," Barnes said. "I know everyone down there is enjoying kind of covering for a lot of the situation going on with the team right now with the injuries. It's a nice challenge and I think so far overall as a group we’ve handled it pretty well.”
Throughout this series, Nido has been the unlikely contributor in a depleted lineup that is missing a number of regulars who are on the injured list, including Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis and Jeff McNeil. In the top of the seventh with two runners on, Nido hit a bloop single to center field to score James McCann and José Peraza to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
Nido entered Wednesday with a .208/.248/.344 line across parts of five MLB seasons -- not the stats you would expect out of your hottest hitter. However, over the past three games, he has come alive as the unlikely source of thump with five hits, including a game-winning home run on Tuesday.
“Nido’s doing a great job," Mets manager Luis Rojas said. "He’s gonna get more playing time. He’s finding himself the way he's playing, he's catching, and he's been swinging the bat really good,”
Through the first three innings, the Mets were on cruise control with David Peterson on the mound. He started the game looking untouchable with four straight perfect innings, but a three-run rally in the fifth washed away what had the makings of a dominant start.
“These are the things he’s learning on the fly," Rojas said. "He was cruising and then one inning, lost it. Not the same pitcher. I thought the hit-by-pitch was a big one when he hit Contreras and things started getting a little fast for him. They ambushed him that inning. Things happen really quick, but it's a learning process for him. He's thrown the ball really well for majority of the innings that he's had this year, but he's had that one inning in a game or two innings in a game when things just build up.”
Peterson fanned five and allowed three runs on five hits and one walk over 4 2/3 innings.
Through three innings, the Mets’ offense was held to just one hit, a single from Dominic Smith. In New York’s second time through the lineup, Villar stepped to the plate and once again was able to ignite the offense. On a 1-2 pitch, Villar hit an absolute shot off Braves starter Charlie Morton and admired his work as it traveled 431 feet over the right-field wall. This gave Villar his fourth homer of the season and his second in as many games.
Throughout this series Nido and Villar have been the unquestioned stars for the Mets. However, their offense in the series finale wouldn't be enough to overcome some late bullpen mistakes. The Mets will enjoy a much-needed day off Thursday as they prepare to face the Marlins this weekend.