ATLANTA — It could have been the pregame team meeting, or the bullpen shake-up, or even motivation from Monday’s frustrating loss. Jacob deGrom’s brilliant start certainly helped, as did Julio Teheran’s struggles on the other side.
Whatever was responsible for that extra bit of oomph, the Mets will take it. Happily, enthusiastically. And they hope — and need — to repeat it over and over again.
This is where the Mets find themselves in the middle of June, facing a huge hurdle ahead and clinging to the good feelings that came out of their 10-2 defeat of the Braves Tuesday at SunTrust Park. There’s much more to do, and it still doesn’t seem quite feasible, but beating the first-place team in the NL East is a starting point.
The victory was preceded by plenty of intrigue. After an embarrassing 12-3 loss Monday, Mickey Callaway promised a shake-up, and then delivered on Tuesday. There was a team meeting. Jeurys Familia was placed on the injured list, Drew Gagnon was sent down, and new arms Daniel Zamora and Stephen Nogosek were given a chance to salvage this floundering bullpen.
The keys to Tuesday's win, though, were already in place and have been there for quite some time. DeGrom was deGrom — dogged and unflinching as he carried a shutout into the ninth inning. Jeff McNeil sparked the offense, and Pete Alonso feasted — going 4-for-4 with two doubles, a two-run homer and three RBIs. It was his first career four-hit game.
It’s no small feat, considering Teheran routinely has dominated the Mets. Going into Monday, he had a 2.35 ERA against them in 26 games. Tuesday, he lasted only four innings, giving up six earned runs with three walks and three strikeouts. DeGrom (4-6) made easy work of that potent Braves offense, allowing two runs and five hits in 8 1⁄3 innings. He also struck out 10, giving him 1,112 and passing Al Leiter (1,106) for seventh all-time on the Mets’ franchise strikeout list. The Braves scored their runs in the ninth on back-to-back homers by Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson.
“That’s the best stuff I’ve had all year,” deGrom said. “We definitely needed it. We need every win we can get.”
The Mets had Teheran’s number from the beginning, but finally did damage in the third, when the first four batters reached. Alonso and Michael Conforto had RBI doubles, Robinson Cano scored on a groundout, and Amed Rosario added a run-scoring single, to put the Mets up 4-0. Alonso added a towering two-run homer— 426 feet — in the fourth.
“It was a lot of fun,” Alonso said, smiling. “We should do that every day.”
DeGrom helped his cause in the sixth with a leadoff double. He scored on Cano’s one-out double to go up 7-0. Reliever Touki Toussaint walked Todd Frazier with the bases loaded to make it 8-0. Conforto also hit a solo homer in the eighth, and McNeil hit one in the ninth.
Afterward, McNeil and Alonso declined to go into specifics about the team meeting, with Alonso only saying that it was helpful.
“All honesty,” Alonso said. “Being honest with ourselves. It was a good talk.”
But talking only gets you so far, and the Mets know it. Wednesday is a chance to make a real mark.
“Today was a good step in the right direction,” Alonso said. “Taking the series would be huge.”