Braves complete Mets sweep, add division lead – The Mercury News

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Braves complete Mets sweep, add division lead - The Mercury News
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ATLANTA – It was the biggest moment of the season and the Mets failed to meet it.

When the Mets touched down in Atlanta, they had a one-game lead over the Braves in eastern Newfoundland. They trailed two games after a sweep at the hands of their division rivals, and Atlanta now owns the tiebreaker of the season. They fell 5-3 on Sunday night in the series finale at Truist Park, capping a disappointing weekend that may have sealed their fate as a wild card team.

If this was a litmus test to see how the Mets (98-61) compare to the defending World Series champions in record time, then clearly this team isn’t there yet. They were outplayed in almost every facet of the game. They had three aces lined up — two of which are among the best big-game pitchers on the planet — and they failed the test against the Braves (100-59).

“They threw a little better than us and they swung the sticks a little better than us. We struggled to keep the ball in the stadium, but that’s been the case with (the Braves) all year,” manager Buck Showalter said. “They beat us once more than we beat them this year. Our guys are having a good year, but it hasn’t worked out for us the last three games.

Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt combined for 11 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings. These are the types of games these pitchers were born for and they couldn’t get away with.

But it is not that simple. Atlanta’s roster is one of the best and deepest in baseball. Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson have hit home runs in all three games of the series, with Swanson taking all three starters deep.

“I threw a 3-2 pitch in the middle and he hit,” Bassitt said of the home run he threw at Swanson in the first inning. “A world-class hitter who just put a good swing on a really bad pitch.”

The Mets, meanwhile, have scored just seven runs in 27 innings. That’s not good enough for any pitcher, let alone elites like deGrom and Scherzer. There’s been a lot of talk about how heavy the Braves are and how Mets work, but they haven’t made many.

That point was underscored in the third inning when they scored two runs and blocked two runners. The Mets put nine runners through the first three innings, increasing Charlie Morton’s pitch count. But they only tackled three.

Daniel Vogelbach homered Morton to start the second inning and tie the game at 1-1. Jeff McNeil, who is chasing former Braves first baseman and current Los Angeles Dodgers Freddie Freeman for the batting title, led the third with one of his own. Morton then gave up three straight singles to score Pete Alonso. The bottom of the order went down the order and the Mets came away with just a one-point lead.

It wasn’t enough.

Former Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud opened the game late in the inning with a two-run single from Bassitt. Olson’s third homer of the game came off Seth Lugo in sixth.

Bassitt (15-9) was shaky early on and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on three hits, walking three and hitting one. Bassitt, somewhat unusually, could not find his command.

“I kept waiting for him to follow suit,” Showalter said. “Chris has done that some nights, misses pitches, and then he’s kind of running around. Kind of what their guy did – he made an adjustment and went a little further in the game. But Chris was one of our best pitchers and he didn’t have it tonight.

Some of the Mets’ biggest hitters failed to make it through the series, including Francisco Lindor, who went just 2-for-13 on the weekend and retired with the bases loaded in third.

“I didn’t make the adjustments fast enough,” Lindor said. “They pitched well and I have to give a lot of credit to the pitching staff who performed. I didn’t have the series I wanted to have. It is the motivation to be better. I just need to be better.

The Mets are desperately clinging to a positive attitude and an opportunity to redeem themselves against the Washington Nationals at home this week. Showalter also said he was looking forward to making another team pay. They might get the chance to do that to the Braves later in October, as there’s still a chance these two teams will meet, although it probably won’t be until the NLCS.

To get there, they will have to play baseball much better than that.

“Take your hat off to Atlanta,” Showalter said. “And I hope you get the chance to play them again.”

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