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Tylor Megill, Corey Oswalt pitch Mets to series split with Atlanta

Tylor Megill #38 of the Mets pitches against

Tylor Megill #38 of the Mets pitches against Atlanta during the second inning at Citi Field on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

In every game, every team faces some version of the same question: How to get 27 outs?

The Mets’ 7-3 win against Atlanta on Wednesday yielded the most unlikely of answers: rookie Tylor Megill (13 outs), Miguel Castro (two), Corey Oswalt (seven) and closer Edwin Diaz (five).

It was weird, but it worked. Especially on a night when the Mets were without many of their best relievers and didn’t even have one of their regular starters available due to their recent frequency of doubleheaders.

"It’s satisfying when it works," manager Luis Rojas said with a little laugh. "Credit to the guys who came in and did it."

 

That along with multi-hit nights from Francisco Lindor (three RBIs), Michael Conforto and James McCann was enough for the Mets (38-31) to split the four-game series with Atlanta (35-38).

The Mets tagged righthander Kyle Wright — a spot starter in place of Max Fried, who went on the injured list with a blister Tuesday — for five runs in two innings. Lindor capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the second, his ninth long ball of the year. On the Mets, only Pete Alonso (11) has more.

That gave the pitchers room to work.

In his major-league debut, Megill had a fine showing: 4 1/3 innings, two runs, three hits. He struck out four and walked two.

"It was exciting, it was fun, it was competitive. I had a blast while I was out there. I couldn’t ask for anything more," said Megill, who didn’t have any family or friends present. "I wanted to go full force, go out there and make a statement and try to help the team win."

Megill, 25, was the Mets’ eighth-round draft pick in 2018 and had thrown only 140 professional innings before — including three starts at Triple-A — before getting called up, as much a result of the Mets’ neediness as it was Megill’s merit. He impressed with a 3.35 ERA in eight starts in the upper minors, earning May farm-system pitcher of the month honors and the promotion to Syracuse.

Like he has in the minors, Megill relied heavily on his four-seam fastball, throwing it 60% of the time. It averaged 95 mph. He also mixed in his slider and changeup.

"That guy is nasty," Diaz said. "His fastball looked alive."

His final line was almost much prettier after he got through four scoreless innings, but he ran into trouble in the fifth. Ehire Adrianza worked a leadoff walk, and No. 8 hitter Ender Inciarte blasted a two-run home run off the facing of the second deck in rightfield. When Megill walked Josh Tomlin, a reliever, Rojas pulled him.

The Citi Field crowd of 15,645 gave Megill a standing ovation as he left the mound. Then the fans booed as the umpires stopped him for a sticky-substances check, a routine procedure as of this week, as he neared the dugout.

With one on and one out and the top of the Atlanta order due up, Rojas went to Castro, "probably the only one we could’ve used there," he said. The only relievers at Rojas’ disposal who didn’t get into the game were Drew Smith and Seth Lugo, who were available on an emergency basis only.

Castro loaded the bases but got Abraham Almonte to ground out to end the inning.

Then came Oswalt, who was enough of a non-priority that the Mets removed him from the 40-man roster in February. He didn’t return until Wednesday amid the team’s desperate need for a pitcher who could go multiple innings.

Suddenly in a high-leverage, major-league situation, Oswalt entered in the sixth inning of a 5-2 game and wound up tossing 2 1/3 innings, allowing one run. It was perhaps the biggest performance of his career.

"This is what this team is all about," said Rojas, noting that a long outing from Oswalt was the pregame plan. "Everyone is leaving everything out there to get some wins."

Diaz inherited a two-on, one-out jam but retired Pablo Sandoval (strikeout) and Ender Inciarte (flyout) on his way to his 16th save in 17 chances. Five outs matched his longest outing of the season.

That ended a game in which the Mets got 6 2/3 innings from a pair of pitchers who weren’t with the team the day before.

"It sends a message to our organization, just to be ready," Rojas said. "They can be here at any given time to help us."

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