On Saturday night, David Peterson picked up right where Todd Frazier left off.
Frazier, the Mets’ veteran third baseman, threw a perfect ninth inning in a blowout loss to Atlanta on Friday night. Peterson, the Mets’ rookie lefthander, shut out Atlanta into the sixth inning on Saturday night.
It was a rare good start for the Mets by someone not named Jacob deGrom and, along with a home run and three RBIs from Robinson Cano, led to a 7-2 victory at Citi Field.
Peterson (5-2, 3.80 ERA) didn’t give up a run until Adam Duvall homered with two outs in the sixth with the Mets leading 3-0.
Peterson allowed three hits, walked four and struck out 10 in his eighth big-league start. He threw 102 pitches. His previous high was 87.
"That’s always the key," Cano said. "No matter what we do hitting-wise, it’s always going to come down to the pitching."
Said manager Luis Rojas: "Once again, he steps up."
Two of the four clubs that are ahead of the Mets for the NL’s two wild-card spots (the Phillies and Brewers) won on Saturday. The other two (the Giants and Reds) lost. At 24-28, the Mets are still looking up at all four, but they moved to within 1½ games of the Reds for the final spot. The regular season ends next Sunday.
"It’s like a playoff every game," Cano said. "But as a team, we stay together. We know our goals. We know what we want. We know if we want to make it to the playoffs, we’ve got to go out and there and try to win every game. We’re going to keep fighting to the end."
Going into the night, Mets starters other than deGrom had a 6.79 ERA. The rotation was supposed to be the Mets’ big strength after the offseason. But they have zero wins from Noah Syndergaard (Tommy John surgery), Marcus Stroman (injury, COVID-19-related opt-out) and Steven Matz (injury, ineffectiveness). Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha have one each.
That was not the plan going into spring training. Neither was Peterson being the No. 2 or 3 starter. But that’s where the Mets are.
Cano gave the Mets the lead with a two-run single in the first after Atlanta rookie righthander Ian Anderson (3-1, 2.36) walked the first three batters.
Peterson worked out of a second-and-third, none-out jam in the second and worked around a pair of walks in the third and a leadoff double in the fifth. He dominated Mets nemesis Freddie Freeman, striking him out three straight times, including the final out of the fifth for his 10th K.
"He’s a great hitter and a tough out," Peterson said. "It was mixing things up. Fastballs, slider, left-on-left changeup. It takes everything to get that guy out."
Robinson Chirinos gave the Mets a 3-0 lead with an RBI double in the fourth. Duvall’s homer, his 11th in September, made it 3-1.
Atlanta loaded the bases against Miguel Castro with one out in the seventh, but Justin Wilson came in to get Freeman to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Freeman went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and stranded eight baserunners.
"Truthfully, it wasn’t a very good pitch," Wilson said. "But he hit it hard right at Robbie and we got the double play."
Travis d’Arnaud homered to center off Jeurys Familia in the eighth to bring Atlanta within a run, but the Mets put the game away with a four-run eighth. Dominic Smith led off with his ninth home run and Cano followed with his ninth to make it 5-2. Brandon Nimmo added a two-run single as the Mets batted around.
The Mets bounced back from Friday’s 15-2 defeat, which featured Frazier’s triumphant mound debut. Frazier kept the ball from his strikeout of Duvall, his former Reds teammate.
"It was weird, but it was really, really a thrill for me," he said. "Now on the back of my baseball card, I can say I have a strikeout and a 0.00 ERA. Pretty cool."