ATLANTA — Any “luck” the Mets might have previously received against the Braves disappeared Monday night.
Not only were the Mets thoroughly embarrassed by the top threat to their NL East title dreams, but for a second straight game a key player departed with an injury.
This one hit the rotation. Carlos Carrasco returned to pitch following a 55-minute rain delay and was holding his left side as he departed through the dugout tunnel after the second inning, adding to the Mets’ disgust in their 13-1 loss to the Braves at Truist Park.
Carrasco’s ailment — called “left side tightness” by the team — occurred only hours after the Mets placed Luis Guillorme on the injured list with a “moderate” left groin strain. The expectation is Guillorme, who departed Sunday’s game with the injury, will miss the next four to six weeks.
After allowing four earned runs over 2 ²/₃ innings in a loss to the Mets at Citi Field eight days earlier, rookie Braves pitcher Spencer Strider alluded to the home team’s “luck” with well-placed hits.
Before Monday’s game, Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker indicated Strider’s comments were misguided.
“At the end of the day you never want to make excuses,” Walker said. “You have got to be professional about it. Those hits are going to happen, it’s baseball. It’s 162 games. We just do a good job offensively of getting pitchers frustrated. We make them work at-bats. His first at-bat against [Brandon] Nimmo was 10 pitches. That is the way we play, that is what we do. We don’t hit the home run like some other teams, but we grind out at-bats and we find holes. That is how you win games — a lot of games.”
Strider had better luck this time, allowing one earned run on three hits over five innings in helping the Braves move within 4 ½ games of the Mets’ lead. Like Carrasco, the Braves right-hander returned to pitch after the rain delay.
Carrasco returned following the 55-minute hiatus and walked Dansby Swanson before retiring Austin Riley. Joely Rodriguez replaced Carrasco for the third inning.
The Mets have David Peterson lined up to pitch Saturday as part of a doubleheader in Philadelphia with Carrasco scheduled for the other game. If Carrasco is sidelined, the Mets could turn toward Trevor Williams for the start.
Carrasco allowed three earned runs, which included consecutive homers to William Contreras and Eddie Rosario in the second inning. Another run scored after Mark Canha lost Ronald Acuna Jr.’s fly ball to left field in the sky.
The Braves seized control of the game in the fourth, scoring twice against Rodriguez and Adonis Medina. After Vaughn Grissom singled and later raced to third base on Michael Harris’ slow grounder, Acuna stroked an RBI double that put the Mets in a 4-0 hole. Swanson followed with an RBI single.
The Mets finally showed life in the fifth, using Jeff McNeil’s leadoff double to score a run on Eduardo Escobar’s ground out. McNeil had reached third on his shot to right-center on an Acuna throwing error.
Medina and Mychal Givens were torched for eight runs in the sixth inning. Travis d’Arnaud delivered the definitive jolt in the inning, a three-run homer against Givens that extended the Braves’ lead to 13-1. D’Arnaud had led off the inning by reaching on Escobar’s fielding error. Harris, Acuna, Swanson and Matt Olson also had run-scoring hits in the inning.
With the Mets trailing by 12 runs in the seventh, first baseman Darin Ruf was thrust into bullpen duty and pitched a perfect inning. Ruf returned to the mound and allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth.