NEW YORK (AP) — Lucas Sims is making his case to be in the Atlanta Braves rotation next season.
The rookie right-hander turned in his second strong performance since returning to the rotation, getting his first victory since Aug. 22 as the Braves beat the New York Mets 9-2 in the first game of a doubleheader Monday.
Sims allowed two runs and five hits over a career-high 6 2/3 innings. He’s given up three earned runs over his last two starts, covering 11 2/3 innings.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s pitching like he’s trying to get you out.”
Sims (3-5), a first-round draft selection in 2012, used a sinker-slider mix to limit New York, allowing just five baserunners through six innings before tiring in the seventh. The Lawrenceville, Georgia, native also got his first major league hit, singling off Chris Flexen (3-5) leading off the sixth. He later scored on Markakis’ double.
Juan Lagares had three hits and Tomas Nido drove in a pair of runs in his first major league start for the Mets, who lost for the seventh time in the last eight games. New York dropped to 66-90, hitting the 90-loss mark for the first time since going 70-92 in 2009.
Nick Markakis had a two-run double and Tyler Flowers homered for Atlanta, which has won three of four. Flowers also caught two baserunners stealing.
Rookie infielder Ozzie Albies gave Atlanta an early lead, driving Flexen’s fastball off the right-field facade. Citi Field was so quiet at the time, the sound of the ball hitting the signage echoed throughout the ballpark.
Atlanta padded its lead in the sixth after Flexen loaded the bases without recording an out. Josh Smoker relieved and quickly induced a pop-up from Freddie Freeman, but Markakis hit a 1-1 slider that hugged the left field line to score two runs. After Flowers was intentionally walked to again load the bases, Rio Ruiz lifted a sacrifice fly to center.
Flexen allowed four runs and three hits over five innings. It was his return to the rotation after four relief appearances.
“I thought there were a lot of positives to take from today,” he said. “Very strong, solid through five. Struggled in the sixth, lost the command there, but overall, still a positive performance today.”
New York finally got on the board in the seventh. Phil Evans led off with a walk and moved to second on Lagares’ third hit of the game. With his young hurler tiring, Snitker brought in Dan Winkler, who allowed Nido’s two-run double, spoiling Sims’ final line.
Braves: After leaving his start on Sept. 14 with a cut on the tip of his right middle finger, RHP Mike Foltynewicz is unlikely to make another start this season.
Atlanta sent LHP Max Fried (1-0, 4.41 ERA) to the mound for Game 2. The Mets countered with RHP Seth Lugo (6-5, 5.03 ERA).