Jose Reyes tripled and the Mets took advantage of Julio Teheran’s shaky control as they constructed a two-run first inning and rode Robert Gsellman’s strong start to a 5-1 win over the Braves on Sunday afternoon at SunTrust Park.
“We just had a good series and I was glad to see that,” Mets left fielder Brandon Nimmo said. “I was glad to win the series as those guys are talented over there.”
On the way to claiming their first road series win since Aug. 13, the Mets took advantage of the early struggles endured by Teheran, who issued three walks and surrendered Reyes’ triple before recording the game’s second out. The early advantage proved to be sufficient for Gsellman, as he allowed just one unearned run and three hits over seven innings — his longest outing since May 29.
Gsellman relied on his changeup heavily against the Braves. He picked up the pitch rehabbing in Double-A earlier in the year and it has become his second-best pitch. According to Statcast™, Gsellman threw the changeup 22 times and got three called strikes with it.
“I tried to get the sinker away from lefties as they had a lot in the lineup,” Gsellman said. “I also used my changeup and I thought it worked well.”
Meanwhile, Teheran surrendered a two-out triple to Norichika Aoki in the second inning and pitched around a leadoff walk in the third on the way to limiting the Mets to just the two runs over six innings. The Braves right-hander found the strike zone with just 14 of the first 28 pitches he threw, but ended up retiring 11 of the final 13 batters faced.
“The first inning was a struggle for me, but after that, I settled down everything,” Teheran said. “I calmed myself and kind of got my rhythm. But we were down two runs and it’s tough to start the game by being down 2-0.”
The Mets wouldn’t score again until Phillip Evans doubled in the ninth off Jose Ramirez for his first career RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a pinch-hit, two-run homer that gave the Mets some comfort to complete the victory.
Aoki recorded three hits, but his most influential plate appearance occurred in the first inning when he fell behind with a 0-2 count and then drew a leadoff walk. Reyes followed with a triple that eluded Nick Markakis’ glove in the right-center-field gap. Two walks later, Amed Rosario grounded into a run-producing fielder’s choice that accounted for the game’s decisive run.
“We got some breaks as he normally doesn’t walk guys,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “We took advantage in the first inning with a couple walks. … The fact that he was a little wild early helped us.”
Teheran issued just one more walk after the first inning, but the 3.49 walks per nine innings he has issued this year is higher than the career-worst mark (3.29) he produced in 2015.
“I was a little excited, trying to be perfect in the first inning,” Teheran said. “They weren’t swinging at my pitches and I was a little wild. But after that, I think I made better pitches.”
Freddie Freeman’s first-inning double accounted for the only instance the Braves moved a runner to second base through the first six innings. With one out in the seventh, Gsellman had retired eight straight before Rosario fumbled Johan Camargo’s grounder. The Mets shortstop then committed another error as he allowed Dansby Swanson’s grounder to slip under his glove. Gsellman allowed a run on Jace Peterson’s RBI groundout but induced a weak pop out from pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki to escape the threat.
Luiz Gohara will make his third career start when Atlanta opens a three-game series against Washington on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. CT. Gohara displayed his tremendous potential as he limiting the Nationals to two runs — one earned — over six innings on Wednesday.