If it were not already clear, it is now: The Braves are better than the Mets this season.

It is early. Things could change.

But Atlanta made quite the statement in this sweep, punctuated by a 13-10 walk-off win in 10 innings. Thursday. Atlanta is 38-24 after pushing the Mets to fourth place in the NL East.

Five observations:

1. At some point, hope turns to belief. Some teams hope to win, others expect to win.

The Braves, it seemed, expected to win this game, no matter how it went or what they needed to do.

“I think you get to the point where you feel like as long as you’ve got a strike or an out left, as we’ve seen, that you’ve got a chance,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I think they believe that. You give them a chance, it doesn’t happen all the time, but with these guys it happens a lot. I think that’s a good trait to have in a club.”

After going up three in the first inning, the Braves trailed by two. Then by three. Then, eventually, by four.

It did not matter.

“From the first pitch to the last out, we’re going to continue to fight and battle,” Orlando Arcia said through interpreter Franco García.

In three different innings, the Braves answered New York. They kept hanging around. They never felt out of it.

Down four runs, Marcell Ozuna homered in the fifth. Trailing by four again, Eddie Rosario plated a run with a single in the bottom of the sixth. Then Travis d’Arnaud launched a two-run shot in the eighth.

In the ninth, Arcia tied the game with a one-out solo homer.

With two outs in the 10th, Ozzie Albies crushed a walk-off, three-run shot.

“We’re not going to quit,” Albies said. “No matter what, we’re not going to quit.”

2. As the bottom of the 10th inning unfolded, Albies hoped to be in this spot.

He said he told himself: “Hey, this is the right time to get it done. Do it for the team.”

He came up with two outs and two men on base. Mets reliever Tommy Hunter threw a cutter right down the middle, and Albies sent it 408 feet into the metro Atlanta night.

“As soon as I hit that ball, the ball hit the bat and I didn’t feel anything,” Albies said. “That’s how solid it was hit, and it was the best feeling. As soon as it took off, I was saying, ‘OK, done, game over.’ I don’t pimp them so much, but that one I had to stare at a little bit.”

He watched it fly. The crowd erupted. His teammates ran out of the dugout and eventually mobbed him.

And to get there, the Braves needed Arcia, who homered off closer David Robertson – the man tasked with getting the final five outs. He got three of them. When Arcia pulverized the ball, Robertson immediately bent over.

He knew it was gone.

3. The Braves trailed by three runs on Tuesday. They trailed by three on Wednesday. They trailed by four on Thursday.

It’s difficult to know how the Mets truly feel. But they must be demoralized.

Does it wear on an opponent when a team like the Braves continues scratching, clawing and fighting?

“Absolutely,” Snitker said. “They know you’re not done and you’re gonna keep coming after them. Absolutely, it does.”

“I mean, it just starts to invade your mindset,” Spencer Strider said. “You know these guys are hard to get out and you keep seeing it happen, then it’s in your head. You start worrying about what you don’t want to have happen more than what you want to have happen, and that definitely affects execution and just your general competitiveness at times.”

4. The Braves found a way to win despite an off night from Strider.

On Thursday, Strider, making the 33rd start of his career, allowed a career-high eight runs on eight hits over four innings. He served up two homers, which tied a career high. And he gave up a grand slam for the first time.

After this start, Strider has a 7.23 ERA versus the Mets – his worst mark against any team he’s faced more than twice.

5. The Braves have won 11 of their last 13 games versus the Mets. At Truist Park, Atlanta has won nine of the last 10, including seven in a row.

The Mets have not won here since Aug. 17 of last season. Thursday exemplified the Braves’ identity.

“We just never give up,” d’Arnaud said. “We’re always pulling for each other. We know at any moment, we can put up a huge amount of runs on the scoreboard, inning after inning. So we never feel like we’re out of it, regardless of if we’re down by five or anything like that.”

Stat to know

1 - This is the first time in the modern era (since 1900) that the Braves won three straight games when trailing by at least three runs in each of them, according to Elias Sports Bureau.


“The best feeling, and they know the message already, I don’t even have to say it.”-Albies, when asked what kind of statement the Braves sent the Mets by sweeping this series in the way they did

Up next

Right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver on Friday will make his first career MLB start. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m.


Extra Innings

Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. talks with teammates before their game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Truist Park, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Atlanta.  (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

  • Does anyone crush baseballs as effortlessly as Ronald Acuña Jr.?

“No,” Jesse Chavez said. “The last guy I ever (saw do it) was Miggy in 2012 and ‘13 – those back-to-back years. I’ve never seen anybody do something similar to that. Ronnie’s doing what he was doing then, and it’s pretty special to watch every single night. And we got a front-row seat every single night, so pretty blessed.”In 2012, Miggy – Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera – earned baseball’s first triple crown in 45 years. He won the American League MVP award in both 2012 and 2013.When Chavez praised Acuña with that quote, the Braves’ star was batting .333 with a .985 OPS. He had 15 home runs, 44 RBIs and 29 stolen bases.

  • Earlier this week, the Braves signed free-agent first baseman Jesús Aguilar to a minor-league deal. They assigned him to the Florida Complex League Braves, and he debuted for them on Thursday. (Chad Pinder, who eventually retired from baseball, was assigned to the FCL Braves before the organization eventually put him at Triple-A Gwinnett.)

Aguilar has been an everyday first baseman for multiple teams throughout a career that began in 2014 with Cleveland. He has a .768 OPS over his big-league career, but has had trouble finding a permanent home this year, as Oakland designated him for assignment at the end of May.It seems likely he’ll eventually be upper-minors depth for the Braves, whose roster is set. Their bench players all provide value. And even if Charlie Culberson isn’t playing, the Braves need a backup middle infielder, so that person – whether it be Culberson or Ehire Adrianza (when healthy) – is virtually guaranteed a spot.Still, it’ll be interesting to monitor what Aguilar does in Atlanta’s system, especially because the Braves have shown an ability to help players unlock their potential or rediscover themselves.

  • Joe Jiménez returned to Detroit – his former home – and faced his old team twice. He didn’t allow an earned run over two innings. (Remember: The run the Tigers scored off of him on Monday was unearned because it was the extra-innings ghost runner who scored.)

Jiménez might be rounding into form.At the end of the Braves’ road trip in Detroit, he had not allowed an earned run over his last 6-2/3 innings. Opponents only had two hits off him in that span. He had struck out seven batters and walked two.Another encouraging part of this: Jiménez on Wednesday averaged 95.8 mph with his fastball. After a slow start to the season, his velocity is returning to normal.