For the second time this season, the Braves are in sole possession of first place in the National League East.

The Braves beat the Mets, 4-2, on Saturday at Truist Park. Atlanta is 99-59.

Here are five observations:

1. As everyone looked toward the crucial Braves-Mets series, all eyes focused on Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, who were perhaps the two biggest obstacles in Atlanta’s chase for a fifth consecutive division title. To celebrate a National League East crown, the Braves needed to go through two of the sport’s best pitchers.

The Braves rose to the challenge. By defeating both of the Mets’ aces, Atlanta has given itself an opportunity to control its own destiny by earning the sweep it needed entering this weekend.

“I think they’ve shown how mature they are and where they’ve come (from),” manager Brian Snitker said. “And these big games, they like it. They’ve played a lot of big games in the last few years, and I think they were looking forward to this series.”

The Braves tagged deGrom and Scherzer for seven earned runs on 14 hits over 11-2/3 innings in the series’ first two games. Atlanta hit three home runs off deGrom and two more off Scherzer.

In preparation for this series, the Mets moved Chris Bassitt to Sunday, which positioned their two horses to pitch the first two games. But the Braves did not back down.

Suddenly, a sweep is possible. If the Braves can do it, they’ll have a two-game lead in the division and own the tiebreaker.

“Just keep going,” Dansby Swanson said. “There’s no time to celebrate. There’s four games left. There’s so much left to be had of this season.”

2. One big difference between the two teams has been critical over two games: The Braves have hit for power, the Mets have not.

“It’s a huge momentum thing,” Swanson said. “It’s not easy to string together that many consecutive hits off guys like that, so you gotta be opportunistic, and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that the last couple nights. Some big swings by some key guys.”

One example: In the top of the fifth inning on Saturday, the Mets used three straight singles to score a run. In the bottom half, Swanson gave Atlanta a lead with one swing, a two-run shot off Scherzer.

The Braves have homered four more times than the Mets in this series, including Matt Olson’s solo blast off Scherzer in the sixth inning.

The Braves scored four runs over 5-2/3 innings against Scherzer.

3. There is something about Swanson and big moments.

“It’s the proverbial “It” factor,” said Kyle Wright, Swanson’s college teammate at Vanderbilt. “He’s got it. He’s just a winner. He hates losing. I feel like everyone hates losing, but he hates it more than the average person, I think. … He’s just wired right, and that’s really the best way I can describe it.”

Wright mentioned a postseason game in college, when Swanson lifted Vanderbilt to victory with a go-ahead homer in the ninth. This is who Swanson has always been, Wright said.

“Dansby, he’s just got a knack for that moment,” Wright said.

4. A week ago in Philadelphia, Snitker told Olson this about giving him a day off: “I don’t pre-plan those things. I just look and trust my gut, and it feels right.”

Turns out, it was right.

In six games since Snitker gave him a day off, Olson is 9-for-21 with four home runs and eight RBIs. Olson breaking out of his slump is big for the Braves, who need him this October.

5. Months ago, the Braves were not focused on passing the Mets. No, they simply needed to play better baseball themselves.

“We were falling short of what we thought we were capable of doing,” Swanson said. “We’ve gotten to the point where it kind of started to click for us. At points, you can make it more about self just because you want to play better. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is winning and when everyone’s kind of pulling on that same rope, good things are going to happen.”

In an answer about Swanson, Snitker made this interesting point about the immeasurable “It factor.” “Teams have it, guys have it. I’ve had teams over the years in my career and it’s like, ‘God, that team has it.’ You don’t know really what it is, and ‘It,’ you can’t manufacture it – some teams have it, some teams don’t, some guys have it, some don’t. But that ‘It’ is huge in this game.”

Does he think the 2022 Braves have “It?”

“Yep, I sure do,” Snitker said.

Stat to know

21 - Wright’s 21 wins are four more than anyone else in baseball.

Quotable

“We do have a lot of power throughout the order, one through nine. It can go both ways sometimes, but the ability to change (a game) with one swing is nice, especially when you’re at home and can fire up the crowd and get a little momentum on your side.”-Olson on the homers

Up next

On Sunday, Charlie Morton, who received a one-year contract extension, will start for the Braves, who will face New York’s Chris Bassitt. The game, which will be televised on ESPN, begins at 7:08 p.m.

About the Author