By Marc Carig/Newsday
Manager Terry Collins promised a shake-up, and over the course of an eventful Saturday afternoon, the Mets delivered. Within the span of an hour, Brandon Nimmo was on the way to Atlanta, Michael Conforto was on the way Las Vegas, and Jose Reyes was on the way to Brooklyn.
The Mets had swapped one slumping young player for another who had surged in Triple-A. Then they reached into their past, sending Reyes to the minors for a crash course in playing anything else but shortstop.
Perhaps, the moves eventually translate into more life for a lineup that has wilted in the heat of the summer. But on Saturday night, they proved only to be a distraction, for the Mets once again strained to survive against the worst team in the division.
With Nimmo watching his first major league game from the bench, the contours of an 11-inning 1-0 win over the Braves looked all-too familiar. Even Reyes at the height of his powers couldn’t make a dent in what has become the nightly dysfunction known as the Mets offense.
Kelly Johnson, traded from the Braves earlier this season, lined a solo homer in the 11th inning off left-hander Dario Alvarez, the former Met. But first, the Mets wasted eight shutout innings from Jacob deGrom, endured an offensive gaffe in the 10th and needed a double play for closer Jeurys Familia to save it in the 11th.
“Any time you are playing against a former team, you come in here and have a little extra pep in your step,” said Johnson, who has played for the Braves over three different tenures.
After Wilmer Flores lined a leadoff single, scuffling veteran Alejandro De Aza popped up his try at a sacrifice bunt with pinch-runner Matt Reynolds on first base.
Frustrated, De Aza spiked his bat into the ground and didn’t bother running. Noticing this, Braves reliever Jim Johnson alertly let the ball drop, then fired to second base to begin a double play.
De Aza’s average dropped to .169. The play encapsulated what has been a run of futility for the Mets, who nevertheless gained a game on the Nationals, who are up only two games in the NL East after dropping their seventh in a row.
For the third straight start, the Mets failed to score a single run for deGrom, who sidetepped trouble while working through stifling heat.
Meanwhile, Julio Teheran’s last start came against the Mets on June 19, a brilliant one-hit shutout in which the Braves right-hander struck out seven. He didn’t look that good on Saturday, though he wasn’t that far off, either.
He finished with eight scoreless frames, giving up five hits while striking out seven. He has a 23-inning scoreless streak, the bulk of which has been powered his 17 shutout frames against the Mets.
The Mets collected four hits through the first three innings, the last coming on a Yoenis Cespedes single that was wasted because he attempted stretching it into a double.
From there, Teheran clicked into cruise and retired the next 15 batters he faced until Curtis Granderson’s two-out single in the eighth.
He swiped second, putting the Mets just one hit away from breaking Teheran’s shutout. But even that hint of life quickly evaporated. After running the count full, Asdrubal Cabrera struck out.
Even with Teheran out of the game after eight, the Mets missed a chance to make noise in the ninth. Cespedes began the inning with an infield single on a bouncer that rolled under Adonis Garcia’s barehanded attempt at third base. But Neil Walker hit into a double play, killing any momentum.
For deGrom, it was the clincher to another frustrating night. Over deGrom’s last five starts, the Mets have scored just two runs for him. They have none in each of his last three outings.
Not since June 7 had deGrom looked on the scoreboard when he’s started and seen anything but a zero next to the Mets’ total. Even then, the figure he saw was modest: one.
DeGrom, whose ERA dropped to 2.67, has gone a career-high 10 starts without a win.
Baltimore 5 Tampa Bay 0
NY Yankees 2 Minnesota 1
Toronto 10 Chicago White Sox 8
Cleveland 6 Detroit 0
Colorado 11 Arizona 6
Miami 9 Chicago Cubs 6
San Diego 3 Cincinnati 0
Milwaukee 6 Washington 5
Baltimore 8 Tampa Bay 6
Houston 13 Kansas City 5
Pittsburgh 6 LA Dodgers 1
NY Mets 1 Atlanta 0 (11 innings)
Texas 10 Boston 3
Oakland 7 LA Angels 3
Philadelphia 3 San Francisco Seattle 5 St. Louis 4
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