NEW YORK — A group of Triple-A pitchers and a lineup of mostly Triple-A hitters faced the best team in baseball twice Saturday afternoon at Citi Field. The results were predictable.
In the first game of a twin bill, the Mets were walloped by the Atlanta Braves, 21-3. Daniel Vogelbach’s three-run homer off right-hander Michael Tonkin put the Mets (52-54) on the board in the bottom of the eighth to prevent a second shutout in as many days.
However, the Mets were unable to avoid the same fate in the nightcap, falling 6-0.
Spencer Strider, an NL Cy Young Award favorite, shut the Mets out for seven innings. Jose Quintana took his fourth tough-luck loss (0-4) since making his season debut, holding the Braves to only a single run on four hits and three walks over six innings.
“Obviously, it got away from us,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said after the matinee contest. “We’re not doing much offensively. Until Vogey’s home run, it had been a real challenge for us.”
Both games got away from the Mets (52-64).
They were two meaningless games in the grand scheme of the season, but the entire day cast a harsh spotlight on the club’s lack of organizational depth. The trade deadline was used to address that depth, but it’s clear there is still a long way to go, especially at the upper levels of the system. Other teams in baseball have long questioned the Mets’ ability to scout its own system and this game did little to answer those questions.
Denyi Reyes was called up from Triple-A Syracuse to start the first game. The soft-tossing right-hander was tagged for five earned over 4 2/3 innings. It was an exceptionally inefficient start with Reyes using 109 pitches.
“Denyi gave us everything he could there,” Showalter said. “We took him as far as we could. Innings are at a premium.”
It wasn’t much better after that with right-hander Reed Garrett, a 30-year-old journeyman minor leaguer, getting tagged for six earned runs on four hits and two walks over 2 1/3 innings. Left-hander Josh Walker gave up home runs to Matt Olson and Sean Murphy to make it 13-0 in the eighth. The homegrown lefty took the mound right as it started to rain. By the time Danny Mendick, an infielder, got the final out of the inning in place of Walker, the rain had tapered.
To make matters worse, the Braves (75-41) used right-hander Allan Winans, a former Mets farmhand who was left unprotected during the 2021 Rule 5 Draft. He won his first MLB decision Saturday against the team that drafted him in 2018. Winans (1-0) shut out the Mets for seven innings, limiting a pieced-together lineup to only four hits and two walks while striking out nine.
The five runs allowed by Reyes came on eight hits and four walks. He struck out four and hit one batter.
“It’s no secret that they’re one of the best teams in baseball,” Reyes said through a translator. “I think the hardest part is being able to consistently execute the pitches that you want and to make good pitches against them.”
The Mets were without Brandon Nimmo (left quad contusion) and Francisco Lindor (right side tightness) in the early contest. With outfielder Starling Marte (right groin) on the injured list, the Mets were forced to use reserves. It didn’t go well.
Mendick was charged with a costly error in the eighth inning of the night game when a hard ground ball from Austin Riley bounced off his glove into center field, allowing Ozzie Albies to score from first.
“We know that Lindor is a better shortstop and Nimmo is a better defender, but these guys are trying,” Showalter said. “Everybody has got a strength and a weakness. Unfortunately, some of our weaknesses showed up today.”