On Tuesday night at Citi Field a meaningless matchup between two teams far removed from Post Season play had special significance for a rookie trying to make his mark with the Mets.
The struggling Travis Taijeron collected his first walk-off career hit – a single to left center field in the Mets 4-3 win over the Braves.
Rafael Montero, in his first quality start in September, limited the damage to three early runs before settling down after the second inning. Relief was not reliable in Josh Smoker who had to be bailed out by Hansel Robles after surrendering back-to-back singles in the sixth.
Luckily for the Mets an old familiar friend stayed a little too late at the fair, allowing his former team to come from behind after he had them in the palm of his knuckleball hand.
For six innings 42 year-old R.A. Dickey dominated the Mets with the signature pitch that earned him a CY Young Award when he played for NY in 2012.
Cruising along tossing shut out ball on a total of 62 pitches, he entered the seventh with his 11th victory seemingly secure until the prolific platooning Kevin Plawecki drilled a two-run shot into center field bringing home his buddy Brandon Nimmo, who also had Dickey’s number with his second hit of the game.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead, Dickey was done for the night when Amed Rosario’s line drive eluded Ender Inciarte for a triple. With two outs and Rosario 90 feet from a tie game, Braves reliever Dan Winkler got Taijeron to strike out swinging.
The Mets got some good fortune in the bottom of the eighth off the Brave’s bad defense. After Norichika Aoki drew a one out walk, Johan Camargo’s errant throw to nab Jose Reyes out at first gifted NY runners on second and third. Inciarte then robbed Asdrubal Cabrera of a couple of RBI’s with a dazzling diving catch in center field that resulted in a game tying sacrifice fly.
Jeurys Familia did due diligence in the top of the ninth with the four batters he faced. In the bottom frame, the Braves brought in A.J. Minter, who Keith Hernandez keenly pointed out, resembled a young, leaner Mickey Lolich. Plawecki greeted him with a leadoff single, Dominic Smith eked out Minter’s first walk in the majors, Taijeron laced a line drive walk-off to left field, and then was mauled by his teammates for the first of what hopes to be many more times.