Álvarez hits game-winner to back Megill in G2

May 2nd, 2023

NEW YORK -- The sun finally came out at Citi Field on Monday as the Mets played baseball for the first time since Friday, when the series opener against the Braves was cut short due to inclement weather before rain forced the postponement of Saturday and Sunday's games.

But the results of Monday's doubleheader were mixed, while also a sort of metaphor for the weekend. In the end, the Mets won the nightcap, 5-3, after losing 9-8 in Game 1 in heartbreaking fashion.

New York trailed 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning of Game 2 when the Mets came roaring back and took the lead. With one out and runners on first and second, Francisco Álvarez hit a double down the left-field line to drive home Daniel Vogelbach and Mark Canha, giving New York a one-run lead.

“I think the most important thing is going up with a plan, following that plan and executing that plan,” said Álvarez through interpreter Alan Suriel. “If something goes out of whack or goes out of control, you take a deep breath and continue trying to execute the plan that you have there. That’s what I’ve been trying to do the last couple of weeks.”

No one was happier for Álvarez, the Mets' No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline, than teammate and fellow top prospect , who went 3-for-9 with a home run and two RBIs in the doubleheader.

“Álvarez put us up big there -- it was big for him, too," Baty said. "I think it gave him a little bit of confidence. He is one of the best players I’ve ever seen. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve seen. He is very humble and he goes about his business. He comes to the ballpark every day and works really hard. He is a good player.”

Two innings later, Jeff McNeil gave the Mets some insurance when he hit a solo home run off Joe Jiménez.

“I’m so proud of the way everybody battled," manager Buck Showalter said. "There were so many opportunities to give in today and they never did. Eighteen innings of baseball is a challenge.”

The victory left right-hander with a no-decision. Megill pitched a gem during the first five innings, allowing just two hits while keeping the Braves scoreless. Showalter said that Megill displayed his best fastball this season. Megill seemed to agree.

“I just felt like [the fastball] was getting ahead of a lot of hitters today,” Megill said. “I was pitching a little less stressful.”

Megill was pulled in the sixth after getting two outs and finished having allowed three runs on four hits and two walks while striking out four. Megill has added stability to a rotation that has been inconsistent all season. Entering Monday’s action, New York’s starters were 10-10 with a 4.94 ERA.

Megill got off to a rough start, hitting Ronald Acuña Jr. with the third pitch of the game and causing Acuña to exit with a left shoulder contusion. After that, Megill settled in and kept the Braves off-balance with his four-seam fastball and changeup. But when Megill left the game, the Mets were behind. With two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, Eddie Rosario hit a bases-clearing double past center fielder Brandon Nimmo, scoring three runs and giving Atlanta a 3-2 lead.

But the Mets managed to bounce back, in large part thanks to the young talent that is beginning to flourish in the Majors. The Game 2 win broke a six-game losing streak against the Braves, the club's longest such streak against Atlanta since losing seven straight from April 17-Aug. 11, 2012. Does breaking the streak mean anything to the Mets? 

“We’ll see,” Showalter said. “Down the road, we are always looking for, 'Something means this is going to happen,' and it doesn’t. That’s why we watch the games. We think about some pattern and all of a sudden something breaks from it. We, including me, are trying to figure out why things happen, trying to keep them from happening. The Braves are a good team. You know they are going to be there all year.”

The Mets have a good chance of improving their 16-13 record because they play teams that are currently under .500 -- the Tigers (10-17), Rockies (9-20), Reds (12-17) and Nationals (10-18) -- in their next four series. Then, they face the Major League-leading Rays (23-6) on May 16. Showalter said he is not thinking along the lines of playing bad teams. He likes to point out that those teams are still in the Major Leagues and they have a good chance of winning games.

“At the end of the year, they might be the best team in their division or in the league and we may not be. Who knows. That’s real dangerous to think like that and to be playing this game mathematically,” Showalter said. “I wish it was that easy. 'If we do X, this is going to happen.' It doesn’t work that way. It’s human beings. It’s a baseball season. It’s not a algorithm.”