Orioles put Chris Davis on IL, summon prospect Mountcastle

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
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BALTIMORE — Slumping Chris Davis has been placed on the 10-day injured list by the Baltimore Orioles, who recalled highly touted prospect Ryan Mountcastle and made him their starting left fielder Friday night against Boston.

Davis headed to IL with a .122 batting average and patellar tendinitis in his left knee. Currently in the fifth season of a $161 million, seven-year contract, the former two-time home run champion has only six hits – none of them homers – and one RBI.

“He mentioned it to me about four or five days ago,” manager Brandon Hyde said of Davis’ injury. “We just felt like the right thing to do was to put him on the IL to get treatment and let the knee get some rest. It was really sore yesterday.”

Davis has been struggling at the plate since 2017, and last year he batted .179 with 12 homers. This season is going even worse for the 34-year-old, who played his way out of the starting lineup.

Hyde wouldn’t blame Davis’ woes entirely on a sore knee, especially since the former slugger wasn’t hitting before it because an issue.

“I don’t think that it’s helped,” said Hyde, who couldn’t predict how long Davis would be on the IL.

Drafted with the 36th overall pick in the 2015 draft, the 23-year-old Mountcastle has moved up the minor league ladder while playing a variety of positions. His prowess at the plate, however, has been a constant. He was the International League MVP last year and the named the organization’s top position player after batting .312 with 25 homers and 83 RBIs for Triple-A Norfolk.

Hyde has often said this season that the team was waiting for Mountcastle to improve his outfield play before giving him his first shot in the big leagues, and the 23-year-old finally made the grade while at the team’s alternate site in Bowie, Maryland.

“We feel comfortable with the work he’s put in,” Hyde said. “This isn’t a snap decision. It’s something we talked about for a while, and we felt like today was the day. We’re all on board with him to make his debut.”

The 12-13 Orioles are one game out of a postseason spot in MLB’s expanded playoff format but also took a five-game losing streak into Friday’s game. Mountcastle’s presence in the lineup injected a shot of enthusiasm for a team coming off two straight 100-loss seasons.

“For one of our homegrown guys to make it, it’s exciting for the whole organization,” Hyde said. “A lot of people put a lot of work into this.”

The fans have been clamoring to see Mountcastle, too.

“A lot of people have reading about him, and now they get a chance to see him play,” Hyde said.

Mountcastle said he was “chilling in bed” when he got the call of his promotion.

“I couldn’t be any more happier,” Mountcastle said. “I was just hoping to get my shot, and just be ready when I did. I feel prepared for the games coming up.”

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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Adam Hagy/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).