After nearly coming all the way back from an eight-run deficit Friday night, the Mets made things much easier for themselves to start their doubleheader Saturday.
Of course, it helps when Francisco Lindor and David Peterson have the kind of games they did.
The Mets grabbed the lead in the first inning, kept adding to it and got a strong spot start from Peterson to capture an 8-5 win over the Braves in Game 1 of the twin bill at Citi Field.
Lindor powered the offense, continuing to swing a hot bat by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. The shortstop, who also had another fine day with his glove, extended his on-base streak to 13 games while batting .328 with a .968 OPS in 31 games since the start of July.
“It’s like you’re mining for gold,” manager Buck Showalter said. “You take a piece of gold and put it over there. You take the rock, you put it over here and you sift some more. When you get enough nuggets, you get to play in October. Lindor’s a nugget.”
Lindor’s big game sparked a lineup that piled up 13 hits and went 7-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
That was enough support for Peterson and four Mets relievers. On a day when the bullpen was short, Peterson worked around some early traffic to deliver 5 ¹/₃ scoreless innings — earning him a standing ovation as he walked off the mound in the sixth inning. His reward was being optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse after the game so the Mets could call up a fresh arm for the nightcap.
Despite leading 8-2 entering the ninth, the Mets were forced to bring in Edwin Diaz with two on and one out after the Braves closed within 8-4 against Yoan Lopez. But Diaz needed just seven pitches to lock down his 25th save.
With the win, the Mets (68-39) improved to 30-9 following a loss and regained a 4 ¹/₂-game lead over the Braves (64-44) atop the NL East, heading into the nightcap.
“The biggest thing is just that we’re winning games,” Lindor said. “Who’s on the other side doesn’t matter. You gotta go out there and do it.”
After Peterson worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, the Mets jumped on Braves trade-deadline acquisition Jake Odorizzi in the bottom of the inning for a 2-0 lead.
Starling Marte got the rally started when he took a 93 mph fastball off his left forearm, although he remained in the game. Lindor, Pete Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach then followed with three consecutive singles, the last two each driving in a run to put the Mets ahead.
Lindor led off the third inning with a single and later took second on an errant pickoff attempt by Odorizzi with two outs. Jeff McNeil then made Odorizzi pay, lining a single to right field to make it 3-0.
In the sixth inning, Lindor came within inches of a three-run homer, but his fly ball to dead center field hit off the top of the wall, making him settle for a two-run double and a 5-0 lead.
The Braves finally pushed a pair of runs across in the seventh inning off Seth Lugo and Adam Ottavino, but the Mets came right back in the bottom of the frame with an answer. James McCann and Starling Marte connected for RBI singles before Lindor hit a sacrifice fly to put the Mets up 8-2.
“We talk about grinding at-bats and we want to be known as that,” Lindor said. “A team that grinds, pitch after pitch and is not gonna give up no matter what the score is.”