Ronald Acuna Jr. buries wounded Mets with walk-off home run

There were only so many punches the Mets could take over the past few days before finally collapsing.

ATLANTA — There were only so many punches the Mets could take over the past few days before finally collapsing.

A taxed bullpen finally cried “Uncle!” with Jacob Barnes needing only one pitch in Wednesday’s ninth inning to the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. to seal it. Acuna blasted a walk-off homer that sent the Mets to a 5-4 loss at Truist Park, snapping their two-game winning streak.

Extended bullpen outings the past two days — which included a complete game by relievers on Tuesday — had left the pitching staff on fumes.

Only adding to the Mets’ angst, manager Luis Rojas later revealed Pete Alonso (who didn’t start for the first time this season) was unavailable to pinch hit because of soreness in his left wrist. The first baseman will be reassessed on Friday.

“With that offensive team right now, I think pitching-wise we have done a tremendous job,” Rojas said. “We have been consistent even though we have a couple of guys from our rotation down right now, but we feel guys from our pitching staff have stepped up, and they kept games close like this so we could have momentum at some point.”

The Mets finished with two wins in the three-game series, in which they lost Kevin Pillar after he was hit in the face with a pitch and sustained a broken nose and Taijuan Walker, who lasted just three innings Monday before left-side tightness KO’d him and sent him to the injured list.

Aaron Loup surrendered the tying run in the eighth on William Contreras’ RBI single, but the Braves missed a huge opportunity to take the lead, as Dansby Swanson was nailed attempting to steal third for the second out. Barnes then struck out pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza to keep it 4-4. But Acuna delivered leading off the ninth against Barnes to end it.

Braves beat the Mets behind Ronald Acuna’s walk-off home run Wednesday.
AP

“We like the challenge,” Barnes said, when asked about the bullpen’s heavy workload. “I know everyone down there is enjoying kind of covering for a lot of the situations going on with injuries and stuff like that. … I think overall as a group we have handled it really well.”

The Bench Mob struck in the seventh, when Tomas Nido’s pinch-hit, two-run single gave the Mets a 4-3 lead, completing a rally that started when pitcher A.J. Minter’s throwing error with two outs put Dominic Smith on second base.

Nido, on the bench after two strong offensive games — which included a go-ahead homer in the ninth on Tuesday — came to the plate after Jose Peraza’s RBI double sliced the Mets’ deficit to one run and blooped the first pitch to center field for the lead. James McCann, back in the lineup after sitting two nights for Nido, was part of the rally by drawing a walk.

Khalil Lee is off to a rough start offensively — he has struck out in his first eight plate appearances to begin his major league career — but the rookie is helping to compensate with his glove. In the seventh, he raced into right-center to snag Freddie Freeman’s drive to the warning track, likely saving a run after Acuna had walked. A night earlier Lee used a full-extension dive to rob Ozzie Albies.

David Peterson got knocked out in the fifth after allowing three runs in the inning to place the Mets in a 3-1 hole. It came after Peterson retired the first 10 batters he faced in the game then recovered from allowing a Freeman single in the fourth by getting Marcell Ozuna to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Austin Riley, who homered in the previous two games, continued his rampage with a one-out double in the fifth to start the rally. After Swanson was retired for the second out, Peterson unraveled. Contreras was plunked by a pitch and Guillermo Heredia delivered an RBI single. Pitcher Charlie Morton followed with an RBI single before Peterson bounced a wild pitch that allowed Heredia to score the inning’s third run.

“I probably gave them a couple of pitches that were too good,” Peterson said. “But that whole time I felt like we were one pitch away from getting out of that inning.”

Jonathan Villar’s second homer in as many games and third on the road trip gave the Mets a 1-0 lead against Morton in the fourth. Villar crushed a 96 mph fastball and stood to admire the majestic shot, which landed in the deep reaches of the right-field seats.

This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Mike Puma

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