In the most meaningful regular-season series in baseball this season, the Braves opened with a 5-2 victory over the Mets on Friday.

The NL East rivals are tied atop the standings.

ExploreBradley: Why the Braves need to sweep the Mets

Here are five observations:

1. In front of a sold-out crowd at Truist Park, Max Fried and Jacob deGrom each tried to outduel the other. The situation was obvious: The Braves, needing a sweep to position themselves to win a fifth consecutive division title, could not afford to lose this game.

Everyone in a red uniform played like it.

“To get the first one is huge,” Austin Riley said. “Just try to build as much momentum off it as possible. You come out fighting and top to bottom, did a good job.”

The offense homered three times off deGrom, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball when healthy. Until he felt ill (more soon), Fried kept the Mets quiet. The Braves made great defensive plays. Their bullpen protected the lead.

In the biggest games and moments this season, the Braves have played their best.

“I feel like we take priority to play well every day, and I feel like we’ve done that this year,” Dansby Swanson said. “No matter who we’ve played, I feel like we’ve put out good performances. When you have a mentality of wanting to win each and every day, good things are going to happen. Even when we don’t play our best, if the end goal is to win, then good things happen.

“When you keep that same mentality and the stakes feel a little bit higher, you feel like you’ve already kind of been there. If everything we do is to win and this team buys into that, which we are, good things are going to happen in big moments like these.”

2. After the top of the fifth inning, the broadcast cameras caught Fried in the dugout. He stood up from the bench, went right over to a trash can and bent over. Then he headed toward the dugout tunnel.

Fried felt ill because of a stomach bug. He threw up and did not return to the game. The Braves sent him home.

After the game, manager Brian Snitker said he didn’t think Fried was feeling well at the start of the game. Fried’s teammates couldn’t tell. Swanson didn’t know until he saw Fried leaning over a trash can. Riley didn’t know until he saw Collin McHugh warming up in the bullpen.

“This team, we don’t make many excuses, nor do we show any type of weakness,” Swanson said. We battle, we go, we fight – no matter what the situation is, how you feel.

Before throwing up, Fried worked on a masterpiece. It only lasted five innings, but he allowed one run on four hits. And Eddie Rosario’s left-field defense – one misplay and a difficult play he couldn’t make – helped the Mets score that run.

Fried struck out three batters and didn’t walk any. He out-pitched deGrom while they both were in the game.

“It’s Max. I’m not in awe anymore,” Swanson said. “The guy has got this competitive (nature). You would never know it – like, he’s the nicest guy in the world. But when he steps out there, man, he wants to dominate. You can just tell. He gets this look in his eye and it’s like, ‘You go do your thing.’

Braves 5, Mets 2

3. Riley led off the bottom of the second inning with a 422-foot solo bomb off deGrom that electrified the crowd. The next batter, Matt Olson, hit a ball 430 feet as the Braves went back to back off one of the Mets’ aces.

“Guys like deGrom, you can’t miss those pitches,” Riley said of the few mistakes deGrom made.

In the sixth inning, Swanson homered. That added an insurance run. The first two gave the Braves a lead after the Mets had scored in the top half.

Friday marked only the seventh time in 209 career starts that deGrom allowed three homers. DeGrom exited after six because he was dealing with a blister.

4. The bullpen allowed one run over the final four innings.

ExploreComplete Braves-Mets coverage

McHugh pitched the sixth, Raisel Iglesias took the seventh, A.J. Minter completed the eighth and Kenley Jansen, despite pitching himself into trouble, earned his 38th save.

“That group down there, in a way, that is our team,” Swanson said. “They’re very professional, they’re accountable for each other, they obviously work at it and they have this ability to keep things light and fun. …When it comes gametime, man, they’re all over it. For them to do what they’ve done all year is special.”

5. Atlanta’s 98 wins are its most since the 2003 team won 101 games.

This is nice, but the Braves have bigger goals down the road.

Stat to know

100 - Swanson’s homer off deGrom was the 100th home run of the shortstop’s career.

Quotable

“He has a huge heart, he’s got fight. When things aren’t going the way he wants, he still finds a way to get outs, make pitches and get us all to believe in him. Any time I see him not feeling well, it seems like he pitches well.”-Travis d’Arnaud on Fried

Up next

Kyle Wright will face Max Scherzer in Saturday’s game, which begins at 7:20 p.m.