The Mets pulled out all the stops on Thursday night in a 6-4 win over Atlanta before 38,693 at Citi Field.
The NL East front-runners hit four home runs against Atlanta starter Kyle Wright: two by newcomer Tyler Naquin in his first Mets home game, one by new Citi Field fan favorite Daniel Vogelbach and one by Pete Alonso.
Winning pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who gave up three runs in six innings, extended his career best scoreless streak to 22 2⁄3 innings before allowing a run in the fifth.
Manager Buck Showalter went for the jugular when he called in Edwin Diaz to start the eighth for his first career six-out save.
Big series? You betcha.
The Mets increased their division lead to 4½ games over the defending World Series champions in the first game of a five-game showdown series that includes a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and concludes with Jacob deGrom’s return to Citi Field on Sunday.
“It’s a special series,” Carrasco said. “They are the team that won the World Series last year and they are behind us.”
Showalter tried to downplay the importance of the series, tried to say he went to Diaz for six outs because the righthander hadn’t pitched in five days.
“He’s had a lot of rest,” Showalter said. “He needed to pitch.”
The Mets might have come up short at the trade deadline in picking up the extra relief help their fans wanted, but Showalter showed he doesn’t need an eighth-inning guy if Diaz is rested enough to go two. With the All-Star break (and since he didn’t pitch in the All-Star Game), Diaz had thrown only 4 1⁄3 innings in four appearances after a July 17 outing.
Diaz getting the call in the eighth was so unexpected that his signature trumpet-blaring entrance song wasn’t played until he reached the mound for an 11-pitch, nine-strike, two-strikeout inning. Usually, the song is blared as soon as the bullpen door opens.
The ninth was a little more hairy. Eddie Rosario led off with a single before Travis d’Arnaud hit a fly ball to right for the first out.
After a wild pitch, Diaz struck out Marcell Ozuna on a 100-mile per hour fastball. Diaz fell behind Orlando Arcia 3-and-0 before throwing an inside 99-mph fastball that Arcia tried to check his swing on/get out of the way of. The ball hit his bat and trickled to the first-base side of the mound, where Diaz grabbed it and jogged with it to first for his 24th save.
“Maybe he was looking for my slider?” Diaz said. “I just want to throw my fastball up in the zone because I know they will swing 3-and-0. I think he was getting out of the way because I think it was ball four. I was trying to throw strike one, get back in the count. He checked [his] swing, I got the ground ball and we win the game.”
Alonso gave the Mets a 1-0 lead in the first with a one-out, RBI single to score Starling Marte, who had reached on an infield single and moved to second on a walk to Francisco Lindor.
Naquin made it 2-0 in the second with a shot to the back of the home bullpen in right-center for his first home run as a Met.
Wright (13-5, 3.22 ERA) walked Lindor again in the third, this time with two outs, and Alonso made him pay with a two-run bomb over the party deck in left-center.
Oh, it was a party all right, as Alonso’s 29th homer gave him 91 RBIs and extended the lead to 4-0.
Vogelbach made it 5-0 by going back-to-back to right for his second Mets home run. Vogelbach’s first one was a grand slam on Wednesday in Washington.
Carrasco (12-4, 3.82 ERA) gave up three two-out runs in the fifth. Michael Harris II made it 5-1 with an RBI single. Ronald Acuna Jr. followed with a two-run home into the Home Run Apple in centerfield to shave the Mets’ lead to 5-3.
Naquin made it 6-3 in the sixth when he took a low pitch and drove it over the fence in left for his second home run of the night.
“Naquin two homers. Vogelbach homer. Pete,” Diaz said. “Great night.”