Mets take nightcap to pick up split with Braves
NEW YORK — The New York Mets can’t undo the damage they suffered during a disappointing 2017. But the sight of Seth Lugo and Travis d’Arnaud ending challenging seasons on a high note provides the Mets some hope that 2018 might be better for Monday night’s battery as well as the entire team.
Lugo picked up the win by tossing six shutout innings and d’Arnaud homered and finished with two RBIs as the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 to split a doubleheader at Citi Field.
The Braves won the opener 9-2 behind rookie right-hander Lucas Sims, who posted the victory after working a career-high 6 2/3 innings and delivering his first major league hit, a single, to jump-start Atlanta’s three-run sixth inning.
Lugo (7-5), who has been limited to 17 starts this season due to a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow as well as a right shoulder impingement, helped the Mets salvage the split by allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out seven in his second scoreless effort of the season. He retired the final 12 batters he faced.
“I feel good, so confidence has been there since I came off the DL after the shoulder thing,” said Lugo, who didn’t debut until June 11 due to his elbow injury and was on the shelf from Aug. 12 through Aug. 27 with the shoulder injury. “It’s always important to finish strong.”
Lugo has allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts, a stretch in which the Mets haven’t allowed him to pitch more than six innings in an outing.
“I think the fact that we’ve kind of cut him back workload-wise — I think his shoulder probably feels better,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He knows he’s not getting deep in the game, as far as pitch count goes, so I think he goes out there with a little more energy.”
D’Arnaud capped a two-run third inning with an RBI double and homered leading off the eighth to provide the Mets with what proved to be the decisive run. He entered September with a .232 average, 10 homers and 38 RBIs, but is hitting.321 with six homers and 16 RBIs in 16 games this month.
“When you have a good finish, you go in feeling pretty good about yourself,” Collins said. “You take these last at-bats with you all winter long. And as they start to get ready for spring training, that’s the thing you’re thinking about — how you finished.”
The homer by d’Arnaud was New York’s team-record 219th of the season, breaking the mark set last year.
“That’s awesome we were able to do that again this year,” d’Arnaud said. “It’s a pretty cool stat to be a part of.”
Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI groundout in the fourth for the Mets (67-90), who followed up back-to-back playoff trips by losing 90 games for the first time since 2009. Brandon Nimmo tied a career high with three hits.
Jeurys Familia, the Mets’ fourth pitcher, notched his fifth save despite allowing two runs in the ninth, when Jace Peterson laced an RBI single and pinch hitter Matt Kemp produced a run-scoring groundout. Familia retired the potential go-ahead run, pinch hitter Tyler Flowers, for the final out.
Kurt Suzuki had two hits for the Braves (71-85), who have won four of six.
“Those (are) guys that mix it up,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Lugo. “They move it around and change speed and it’s just good enough.”
Rookie left-hander Max Fried (1-1) took the loss for the Braves after allowing two runs (one earned), seven hits and one walk while striking out two in 5 1/3 innings.
“Little traffic out there,” Snitker said. “He made pitches, he kept pitching and it was a nice solid outing for him.”
NOTES: The doubleheader, which was necessitated by a rainout at Citi Field on April 25, was the 43rd twin-bill between the Mets and Braves. ... The Mets’ Home Run Apple, which is raised after every home run by a New York player, didn’t rise after C Travis d’Arnaud hit the team’s record-breaking 219th homer of the season. The announced crowd of 21,698 chanted “APPLE! APPLE!” for a few minutes until the apple was finally raised to boisterous cheers. “I saw it go up and everybody went nuts,” d’Arnaud said. “That was cool.” ... Braves CF Ender Inciarte was 2-for-8 during the doubleheader and has 199 hits. He is trying to become the first Braves player with 200 hits since Marquis Grissom had 207 in 1996.