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Rick Porcello's best start as a Met wasn't enough

Mets starting pitcher Rick Porcello looks on against

Mets starting pitcher Rick Porcello looks on against Atlanta during an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Even Rick Porcello’s best wasn’t enough for a Mets win.

In their 7-0 loss to Atlanta on Sunday, Porcello lasted seven innings, gave up just one run and struck out 10. That was his first time reaching double-digit strikeouts in more than two years and his sixth time in 354 career games.

"He gave us a really good chance to win a ballgame," manager Luis Rojas said, "if our offense would’ve clicked."

A key, according to Porcello, who allowed three hits and two walks, was having command of all of his pitches, especially his signature sinker.

"It’s always a big pitch for me," said Porcello, who improved his ERA to 5.46 from 6.06. "I need that pitch to generate some strikeouts and make the plate bigger. It was working well today.

"[Wilson] Ramos did a good job back there, calling a good game, moving the fastball around, mixing good pitches. We were able to keep them off balance for the most part."

The operative phrase: "for the most part."

The lone run off Porcello came on Ronald Acuna Jr.’s homer in the sixth inning. Swinging at a first-pitch sinker, Acuna skied a fly to rightfield, far enough to land just beyond the wall, an estimated 343 feet from the plate. Among the three batted balls to go longer: Brandon Nimmo’s sixth-inning flyout to the warning track in center.

Acuna added a three-run double in the ninth, but it was the home run that allowed Atlanta to break through against Porcello.

"That was really the game right there," Porcello said.

Players to be named, named

The Mets completed two of their August trades by sending players to be named to their new teams: righthander Stephen Villines to the Rangers (for Ariel Jurado) and shortstop Victor Gonzalez to the Orioles (for Miguel Castro).

Villines is an interesting side-arming reliever who had a 2.66 ERA in the upper minors in 2019. Gonzalez was an international signee last year — for a reported $250,000 — and hasn't played as a pro yet.

The Mets still owe the Rangers two players to be named, from trades for Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos.

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