5 takeaways from Braves’ doubleheader split vs. Mets

Ronald Acuña follows through on his fifth-inning home run during Monday's Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Mets.
Caption
Ronald Acuña follows through on his fifth-inning home run during Monday's Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Mets.

Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The Braves split a doubleheader against the Mets in Queens Monday. They lost 4-2 to Cy Young frontrunner Jacob deGrom in Game 1. They rebounded to take Game 2, 1-0, thanks to outfielder Ronald Acuna and starter Ian Anderson. Both games were seven innings.

Here are five takeaways from Monday:

1. It remains to be seen if Acuna will win National League MVP. But he’s certainly the Braves’ most valuable player.

For the second straight nightcap of a doubleheader, Acuna’s solo homer was the difference. The Braves defeated the Cardinals 1-0 Sunday night on Acuna’s blast. His fifth-inning shot Monday night gave the Braves another one-run victory.

Citi Field, always a rowdy environment for Braves players, grew quiet after Acuna’s homer, which prompted him to make “I can’t hear you” gestures as he returned to the dugout.

“I feel like I’m getting booed every time I go out there,” Acuna said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “So I think to myself, ‘OK, I’m going to wait until I do something. I’m going to say something.’ And then as soon as I hit it out, I didn’t hear anything. So as soon as I started around the bases, I just motioned like this (gesture) because no one was saying anything. It got real quiet after that.”

Acuna became the second player in the modern era to homer for the only runs in consecutive 1-0 team wins, according to Elias Sports.

2. It wasn’t just the bat. Acuna also made an important play defensively in the second inning. Mets first baseman Pete Alonso tried to go from first to third base on Dominic Smith’s single. Acuna fielded the ball and fired a rocket to third to nab Alonso.

The throw was clocked at 97.3 mph, tied for the third-fastest tracked throw on an outfield assist over the past two seasons, according to MLB statistician Sarah Langs.

“When he threw that guy out, I was thinking, ‘Man, I haven’t had a break like that in a while,’” Anderson said. “That was an incredible play. And then to hit that home run – two solo home runs in 1-0 wins is pretty impressive.”

3. Anderson logged 5-2/3 scoreless innings in Game 2. He became the first native New Yorker to defeat the Mets and Yankees in New York during the same season.

“That’s pretty cool,” Anderson said. “It’s always nice coming up here. I usually have some family in the stands and I get a ton of support up here.”

4. Closer Will Smith pitched around a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the final frame to record his 14th save. “Will battled his (butt) off, man,” manager Brian Snitker said. “He kept pitching and battled his rear off.”

Freddie Freeman (right) congratulates reliever Will Smith (51) after Smith got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York.
Caption
Freddie Freeman (right) congratulates reliever Will Smith (51) after Smith got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh inning of the second baseball game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets, Monday, June 21, 2021, in New York.

Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

5. Young lefty Kyle Muller made his first career start for the Braves in Game 1. Muller held the Mets to one hit and one run over four innings.

Muller, who said he was heckled by the feisty New York crowd, soaked in the experience.

“I went out early to just get a feel of the stadium,” Muller said. “I went on the mound when the tarp is on and just looked around. So it wasn’t foreign to me when I got out there. And on the screen it was like a picture of both of us (him and deGrom) and it’s like, me facing him. Then you have his numbers (shown) versus my one-inning numbers (in his debut last week). I wanted to take a picture of it so bad but I was like, ‘No, don’t do that. Act like you’ve been here before.’ But it was super cool to watch him pitch and obviously pitch against him.”

Stat to know

5 (The Braves entered the day five games behind the first-place Mets in the National League East. They leave it with the same deficit.)

Quotable

“It’s like he’s in the backyard every night. No stress, nothing. He is just in the backyard playing ball.” – Snitker on Acuna

Up next

The Braves and Mets continue their four-game series Tuesday. Charlie Morton (6-3, 4.03), coming off his best start of the season, will face Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman (6-5, 2.35).