The post-Cespedes 2020 season got off to a good start, as the Mets used a rare offensive outburst behind Jacob deGrom to defeat the Braves, 7-2, and avoid a sweep of the four-game series. The Mets have played seven games against the Braves so far, going 2-0 in deGrom starts and 0-5 in the others.
The Mets put up a four-spot in the third inning, providing deGrom with more support in one inning than he received in the previous two games combined. Michael Conforto had a two-run hit and Robinson Cano and Wilson Ramos each had RBIs in the inning.
Cano, who finished with two hits and a walk, delivered another RBI in the fourth inning and Ramos hit a two-run homer to right center in the fifth.
deGrom cruised through the first four innings before running into trouble in the fifth with a seven-run lead. Last time out, deGrom got in trouble with his changeup. This time around it was the slider, as he hung one to old batterymate Travis d’Arnaud, who hit it for a homer. The last two homers given up by deGrom came to former teammates, as Wilmer Flores was the last one to take him deep.
Also in the fifth, deGrom threw three straight sliders to Ronald Acuna, with the third one turning into an RBI. After a high-stress inning in the fifth, deGrom came back for the sixth and finished with a flourish, striking out d’Arnaud with his 104th pitch of the game. He finished with 1 BB and 10 Ks in 6 IP.
Jeurys Familia replaced deGrom in the 7th and loaded the bases. But he whiffed Ozzie Albies before Justin Wilson came on to retire Freddie Freeman on a grounder to end the inning. Jared Hughes came on to pitch the final two innings. The Mets head to Washington with a rested Seth Lugo and a gently-used Wilson.
The only black mark on the day was that three players were injured. Jeff McNeil was scratched right before the start of the game with back tightness, while Amed Rosario (quad) and Cano (groin) left the game early. But none of those injuries appear to be as serious as what happened to Braves ace Mike Soroka, who went to cover first base on a grounder and never made it, coming down with a lower leg injury. He had to be helped off the field.
The injuries call into question how the Mets will go without Cespedes. The original lineup had McNeil in LF but that was mainly because J.D. Davis was battling stomach problems. Will McNeil move to the outfield, with Andres Gimenez taking over third base? That’s one of many options available to Luis Rojas going forward.