Breaking down the Mets' eighth-inning meltdown

ATLANTA -- A series of unfortunate events in a two-run eighth lifted the Atlanta Braves to a 2-1 win against the New York Mets on Friday at Turner Field. Here are four pivotal occurrences in the inning, with explanations:

Who’s on third?

After Andrelton Simmons opened the bottom of the eighth with a double against Jacob deGrom, Eury Perez tried to bunt Simmons to third base.

DeGrom pounced on the bunt and looked to third base, but no fielder was there. Third baseman Ruben Tejada was charging in, too, leaving the base vacant.

Simmons was able to coast into third base as the tying run, with deGrom settling for retiring Perez at first base.

“In that particular bunt play, he did the right thing,” manager Terry Collins maintained about Tejada. “He’s got to go get the ball. We’re trying to get an out there. I’m not worried about anything else. If this guy bunts the ball too hard and Ruben doesn’t come after it, and if Jake doesn’t get it, we’ve got first and third. We’ve got a big situation. He did the right thing. We made the right play. We got the next guy, too. We just didn’t make the out, make the play.”

Said deGrom: “I was just trying to get off there quick and hopefully maybe have a chance at third. But it was hit pretty hard, so Ruben’s got to come in on that just in case I don’t get it. He put down a good bunt, which made Ruben come in, and we didn’t have a play there, so I got the out at first.”

Potential second out

With the tying run at third base, deGrom then coaxed a groundball from pinch-hitter Pedro Ciriaco to shortstop. Simmons held at third base.

However, Wilmer Flores spent so long looking Simmons back, the throw to first base was late. Ciriaco beat out the play for what was ruled an infield single.

The Braves, trailing 1-0, had runners on the corners with one out.

“That’s the second out of the inning,” Collins said. “It kind of takes the starch out of things.”

Said Flores: “I thought [Simmons] was going on contact. Just my mistake not knowing how fast the runner was. … I just took too long to throw to first. Obviously games like this, any mistake will cost you. It happened.”

Pulling the ace

With runners on the corners and one out, Collins then pulled deGrom at 97 pitches. The manager inserted Sean Gilmartin to face lefty-hitting Jace Peterson. Collins said he would have left deGrom in had Flores made the preceding play at first base for the second out.

“He’s at 97 pitches, 90 degrees out,” Collins said. “He hung the slider to Simmons. He got the ball up to Perez, even though he was bunting. I just thought it was time. If he’d have got Ciriaco out, he would have stayed in to face the next guy. One out, I was looking for a strikeout.”

Said deGrom: “I felt good. I think we wanted to go with the matchup there. That’s part of it. He happened to get a hit there.”

The fatal blow

Facing Gilmartin, Peterson lined a two-run double over Juan Lagares’ head in center field. Lagares appeared to take a step in at first, but insisted he had no shot at making the catch.

“I had no chance at that ball,” Lagares said. “He crushed that ball -- 3-1 [count], I played a little shallow. He’s a leadoff guy. And the infield played in. There’s nothing I can do about that.”