ATLANTA — The Mets have a catching question developing.
Playing over James McCann for the second game in a row and the third time in four games, Tomas Nido hit a tiebreaking home run off Atlanta’s Will Smith in the ninth inning on Tuesday, helping the Mets to a gutsy 4-3 win on a day when they did not have a starting pitcher.
Despite suffering so many injuries of late, the first-place Mets (20-16) have won nine of their past 12 games. Atlanta fell to 19-23.
"All the guys that are out, if they were playing, they’d be playing their (butts) off, so we’re trying to pick up wherever we can to fill the holes that we have," Nido said. "Games like this bring us even closer."
Nido, who batted fifth, is hitting .265 with an .872 OPS. For McCann, who is in the first months of a four-year contract, those numbers are .208 and .519.
Before the game, manager Luis Rojas said that after Nido’s three hits Monday, it was "really tough" to take him out of the lineup. So, he didn’t.
What happens now that Nido hit the game-winner?
"We haven’t made a decision about [Wednesday] yet," Rojas said. "But he’s swinging the bat good. He’s earning time to play. Catching good, swinging well, doing some of the catching leadership out there as well. He’s doing a great job . . . He’s asking for more playing time [by playing well]. That’s the way I see it."
Behind the plate, Nido steered seven pitchers through another bullpen game. The Mets, needing to replace Jacob deGrom (lower back tightness), bypassed starting pitcher options to roll with a bunch of relievers. Edwin Diaz, pitching for a third day in a row for the first time this season, recorded his seventh save in seven chances.
Atlanta lefthander Tucker Davidson allowed three runs and five hits in six innings.
Setting up Jonathan Villar’s two-run homer in the third: Reliever Tommy Hunter laced a 100-mph low line drive to leftfield for a single, the first hit of his 14-season major-league career. His batting line: 1-for-5.
"That is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in the big leagues," he said, his face contorted with excitement. "I got a knock in The Show."
Notes & quotes: Taijuan Walker is day-to-day and questionable for his next start after a "clean" MRI on Tuesday, Rojas said . . . deGrom threw his bullpen session as scheduled. The Mets have not revealed his next step . . . Seth Lugo threw four pitches in a perfect inning for Low-A St. Lucie, his first rehab appearance.
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