NEW YORK (AP) — Before the game, the New York Mets saluted their top minor leaguers during an awards ceremony at Citi Field.
When the night was over, it belonged to a less-heralded prospect.
Travis Taijeron singled home the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and New York rallied late to beat the Atlanta Braves 4-3 on Tuesday.
“It means the world, you know? Especially as a kid growing up, you’re thinking about opportunities like this and you see guys hitting walk-offs when you’re a kid and you’re fired up about that,” Taijeron said.
The 28-year-old rookie was selected by the Mets in the 18th round of the 2011 draft and spent the last three years at Triple-A Las Vegas, compiling a .274 batting average with 69 homers and 237 RBIs.
With the Mets’ outfield depleted by injuries and trades, Taijeron finally got called up and made his big league debut on Aug. 26.
While he got ready for his second straight start Tuesday, the eight-year minor leaguer cheered from the bench as Mets teammates Amed Rosario, Dominic Smith and other prospects were rewarded for their fine minor league seasons with the 2017 Sterling Awards.
“One of the best feelings. You’re pumped up because all your teammates got your back,” said Taijeron, who’s hitting .188 (9 for 48) with one homer and three RBIs in 22 major league games.
New York was stymied by former Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey much of the night and trailed 3-0 in the seventh before Kevin Plawecki hit a two-run homer off the 42-year-old knuckleballer.
Asdrubal Cabrera tied it with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
A.J. Minter (0-1) allowed a leadoff single in the ninth to Plawecki, who was replaced by pinch-runner Juan Lagares. Smith walked but Minter struck out Rosario, who failed to bunt the runners over.
Taijeron, who struck out his previous two times up, hit a line drive over the head of left fielder Jace Peterson to win it.
“Those are just great stories. Those are memories that he’ll have forever, no matter how long that he plays in the big leagues,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He got a big hit to win a game.”
Jeurys Familia (2-2) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
Dickey, who won the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets in 2012, mixed in a slower knuckleball and dominated his former team over the first six innings. He received a nice ovation from the crowd when he was lifted.
“It’s great coming back here. I have a lot of history here. This is a place where I really resurrected my career,” he said.
Dickey retired 13 straight before allowing a single to Brandon Nimmo in the seventh. Plawecki followed with his homer to left field.
Nori Aoki walked with one out in the eighth and a throwing error by third baseman Johan Camargo left runners at second and third. Cabrera’s sacrifice fly off reliever Sam Freeman was caught in left-center by a diving Ender Inciarte, preventing the go-ahead run from scoring.
Inciarte extended his career-high total to 200 hits when he doubled in the first inning and scored on Nick Markakis’ double. He became the first Braves player to reach the milestone since Marquis Grissom in 1996.
“I am enjoying it right now because it’s so hard to do and I am proud of what I accomplished,” Inciarte said.
Atlanta added two more runs off starter Rafael Montero in the second on an RBI double by Peterson and a two-out single by Ozzie Albies.
ONE MORE WILL DO IT
Mets RHP Noah Syndergaard is expected to pitch once more this weekend before the regular season concludes. The 25-year-old ace started and threw five pitches in a scoreless inning Saturday against Washington, his first appearance since April 30. Syndergaard, who has recovered from a torn right lat muscle, will throw a bullpen Thursday with the chance to pitch at Philadelphia on Saturday or Sunday.
Mets: RHP A.J. Ramos met with doctors Monday and was diagnosed with tendinitis in his right biceps. The reliever, who is 0-0 with seven saves and a 5.00 ERA in 20 games since being acquired July 28 from Miami, was scheduled to throw before Tuesday night’s game. He is day to day. … LHP Tommy Milone (left elbow) had an MRI after feeling discomfort. He was not available and will be examined again Thursday.
Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32 ERA) starts the series finale Wednesday night.
Mets: Rookie RHP Robert Gsellman (7-7, 5.38) gets the ball in New York’s last home game of the season.
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