NY sweeps twin bill behind Bruce's HR, Flores' 4 hits
By Mark Bowman and Jaylon Thompson
ATLANTA -- As the Mets begin to reconstruct their injury-depleted starting rotation, they can only hope Steven Matz continues to be as efficient as he was Saturday night while helping secure a doubleheader sweep with an 8-1 win over the Braves at SunTrust Park.
"It was great, especially sweeping the doubleheader," Mets right fielder Jay Bruce said. "It's good to have Matz back and pitching well. He looked great and to get [Yoenis Cespedes] back [in the first game] was a lift we needed, and we are going to keep it going."
Making his first start since beginning the season on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation, Matz certainly looked healthy as he surrendered five hits over seven innings. The southpaw kept the Braves scoreless until Dansby Swanson doubled and scored on Johan Camargo's single with two outs in the seventh.
Bruce's three-run homer in the fifth inning served as the decisive blow against Braves starter Matt Wisler, who allowed four earned runs over six innings. Facing a lineup that didn't include Cespedes or Asdrubal Cabrera, Wisler allowed just two hits -- doubles by Curtis Granderson and Wilmer Flores -- before encountering trouble with two outs in the fifth.
"I think that anytime you can string some solid play together, it's big," Bruce said. "It gives us momentum with the guys that we are getting back here."
The Braves totaled just two runs and 11 hits during the doubleheader. Mets right-hander Robert Gsellman tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the visitors claimed a 6-1 win in the first game.
"On top of [Matz's] stuff, the shadows didn't help," Braves right fielder Nick Markakis said at the conclusion of a game that started at 6 p.m. ET. "Both teams had to hit there. When you've got a guy like that on the mound, it makes it a little tougher. He came at guys and he threw strikes."
Flores notched the third four-hit game of his career with a ninth-inning infield single. He also tripled in the sixth and doubled in the eighth, ahead of T.J. Rivera's pinch-hit homer off Eric O'Flaherty. Plate umpire Phil Cuzzi warned both teams when O'Flaherty buzzed Michael Conforto with the next pitch he threw. The game concluded without any further issue.
"[Flores] continues to swing good as he had six hits today [including two in the first game], and it was a big day for him," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I look at him in the same way I look at Conforto. He started the year as a backup player and he worked his way into the lineup. ... He has done a good job."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sudden eruption: Wisler issued a two-out walk to Conforto in the fifth inning and then allowed Jose Reyes to snap an 0-for-27 skid with a single that Danny Santana bobbled in center field. This set the stage for Bruce to drill his home run, which traveled a projected 369 feet into the right-field seats with a 96.9 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. Bruce hit a grand slam off Wisler on May 2.
Wisler, who spent most of the past two seasons in Atlanta's rotation, was promoted to serve as the 26th man roster addition during this doubleheader. The Braves haven't made an official announcement, but he's now expected to return to Gwinnett's rotation.
"That's probably the best I've felt in long time," Wisler said. "My slider and curveball were both working. It's frustrating that two pitches today cost us the game. I felt in control most of the game. It all happened [in the fifth] with two outs. That's kind of the backbreaker today."
Threat thwarted: Matz retired 15 of the first 17 batters faced before pinch-hitter Lane Adams began the bottom of the sixth with a single. Markakis' two-out walk extended the frame and put a Brave in scoring position for just the second time. But the threat ended when Matt Kemp flied out to center field.
"He's making some progress. Early on, he came out and he was really good. There are some things they've been talking to him about doing. Overall, I thought he was pretty good." -- Braves manager Brian Snitker, on Wisler
Flores secured his four-hit game when the Mets successfully challenged the out call that was made after he hit a two-out grounder to third baseman Rio Ruiz.
Mets:Seth Lugo returns from the disabled list (right elbow inflammation) to start the Sunday finale of this four-game series at SunTrust Park. He is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Braves.
Braves:Jaime Garcia will take the mound Sunday at 1:35 p.m..ET. Garcia has allowed three earned runs or fewer in each of his past four starts.