ATLANTA –The Mets may want to schedule more team meetings –or at least make sure they are lined up on days when Jacob deGrom pitches.
Following a team meeting Tuesday afternoon, the Mets steamrolled the Braves, 10-2, in the middle game of this three-game set at SunTrust Park.
The meeting followed an embarrassing 12-3 loss in the series opener, and the Mets appeared galvanized Wednesday with deGrom throwing 8.1 brilliant innings of two-run ball, and Pete Alonso going 4 for 4 while hitting his 24th homer.
The Mets (35-38) will try Wednesday to win their first road series since April 1-3.
“We should do that every day,” Alonso joked. “It was all honesty, we were being honest with ourselves. It was a good conversation. A good talk. It helped for sure.”
Monday’s lopsided loss marked the beginning of this three-city, 11-game road trip, and those type of losses can have a lingering effect.
The Mets were thoroughly outclassed while falling a season-high 8.5 games back in the division, and their flammable bullpen lived up to its reputation.
Callaway described Tuesday’s meeting as one that stressed what the team needs to do to win games. The Mets have had a few meetings already this year while searching for the launching point that can get them back to .500, and then several games above it.
They’re currently in a stretch against contenders that will take them to the All-Star break
“We’re not going to fold,” Alonso said. “We’re going to keep grinding. We got a lot of ball left.”
Whether that meeting actually inspired any of the players is debatable, but it certainly helped that deGrom served a reminder as to why he won the Cy Young last year.
Matched up against Julio Teheran, who had allowed just four earned runs in his last eight starts, deGrom turned in his most dominant effort of the year.
Equipped with a 100-mph fastball, a 95-mph slider and a 93-mph change-up –yes, you’re reading that right – deGrom tamed one of baseball’s most potent lineups.
He retired 20 of 21 batters in a stretch from the first inning through the seventh, and only cracked in the ninth when he allowed back-to-back homers to Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson. DeGrom struck out 10 batters, his 36th career double-digit strikeout game.
The righty said he felt he could locate any pitch in any count.
“That’s the best stuff I’ve had all year,” deGrom said. “That’s why it was disappointing to give up those two at the end.”
Added Callaway: “He was electric. That was him every day last year.”
The offense gave deGrom a big lead early although he didn’t need much help.
Alonso drove in the game’s first run with an RBI double to ignite a four-run third inning, and hit a towering two-run shot into the Braves pen in right-center in the fourth to push the lead to 6-0. That homer marked the first Teheran had allowed since April 30.
The Mets’ first baseman reached base in all six of his plate appearances.
Every Mets starter had at least one hit, and the top six hitters each drove in at least one RBI. The six earned runs Teheran allowed in four innings matched the most he’s ever allowed to the Mets, a team he has normally owned during his career.
“Everybody put together some good at-bats,” Alonso said. “It was a really special day for a lot of people.”
The Mets now have a chance to win this road series, and perhaps that could be the feel-good win they need to get some momentum. Beating a red-hot Atlanta team in their park after two months of flopping on the road would be quite a statement.
Perhaps another team meeting could be in store Wednesday.
“We got to beat quality teams like this,” Alonso said. “They’re one of the best teams in MLB, and coming in here and taking a series would be huge for us.”