The Mets were held scoreless in a 2-0 Game 1 doubleheader loss to the Braves on Monday. And through the first four innings of Game 2, the Mets still didn't have a run, increasing their scoreless streak to 14 innings, dating back to Jeff McNeil's pinch-hit two-run double on Sunday.
But in the bottom of the fifth, it was McNeil who came up big again. Despite dealing with left leg fatigue over the course of the past week, McNeil proved he can still stroke it in his first start since last Wednesday, driving in Brandon Nimmo with an RBI double for the Mets' first run of the day, giving them a 1-0 lead.
McNeil now has a career-high 13 game hitting streak. And his RBI hit wound up being a lead the team would not relinquish.
"I was looking for a good pitch to get a hit on," said McNeil after the game. "He loves the curveball and I squared it up."
"I feel real good at the plate," he said. "Starting to get my swing back, seeing the ball real well."
The Mets went with an opener in this game, and their bullpen tossed a four-hit shutout. They started with left-hander Aaron Loup, who worked a 1-2-3, 11-pitch first inning. Then Jeurys Familia got out of a huge jam with three strikeouts in the second, and Anthony Banda tossed two shutout innings with three strikeouts.
"It was a big win, after we lost the first one," said Loup. "Knowing we didn't have a starter, just getting a big win against a good team."
Loup was sporting his normal Busch Lite in the postgame zoom room, while Banda joined him, sipping on a Miller Lite.
"We got huge outs in big situations (tonight)," said Banda.
When asked if Loup tried to persuade him to drink a Busch Lite instead, Banda admitted that Miller Lite is his go-to beer.
"I actually am a fan of Miller Lite. Long day of work, as a man you like to have a beer."
After Trevor May worked a scoreless fifth inning, the struggling Seth Lugo came in for the sixth to try to hang on to the Mets' first lead of the evening, and found himself in immediate trouble.
Lugo gave up a single and a walk to set up first-and-second with nobody out for MVP candidate Freddie Freeman. And Freeman just missed a three-run homer, flying out to the warning track in left field. Joc Pederson tagged up from second and went to third, which put the tying run 90-feet away with only one out.
Luckily, Lugo was able to induce an inning ending double play grounder off the bat of Austin Riley to escape the jam with the lead still intact.
This setup closer Edwin Diaz for a one-run save situation in the top of the seventh. And Diaz, who is starting look like his dominant self again, struck out the side for his 22nd save of the year.
The Mets are now 53-45 on the season. They ultimately split Monday's doubleheader, which was their ninth split of the year, and will take on the Braves again on Tuesday night with their starting pitcher still TBA.