Mets Can Only Hope to Get Another Shot Of Playing Braves

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Monday was cold and depressing.

It was just right. So apropos after the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves swept the Mets Sunday evening with a 5-3 victory at Truist Park. After watching the series with anticipation on Friday, there was a letdown after Mets fans come off disappointed at their own team for coming up small.

All the Braves had to do was win or the Mets to lose for them to win the NL East. On Monday night, the Marlins delayed the Braves’ celebration by taking a 4-0 victory at LoanDepot Park and the Mets game against the Washington Nationals got rained out. The Mets will make that game up as part of a doubleheader Tuesday.

Despite the result Monday night, the Braves made their point. They are the best team in the division. They proved that this weekend. Their stars stepped up while the Mets’ stars didn’t.

Mets fans felt good about their team’s chances because Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt pitched this weekend. It turned out this starting trio was why the Mets had a terrible weekend. They gave up 11 runs, 17 hits and six home runs in 14.1 innings. They combined with a 6.91 ERA.

In the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Braves Friday night, deGrom deserved to be ripped for giving up back-to-back home runs to Austin Riley and Matt Olson in the second inning after having a 1-0 lead and then giving up another home run to Dansby Swanson in the sixth inning.

Scherzer fared no better Saturday night when he couldn’t protect a 1-0 and 2-1 lead. He gave up a two-run home run to Swanson, giving the Braves a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, and he gave up another home run to Olson, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning.

Bassitt pitched the worst of the trio Sunday night by imploding in the third inning, as the Braves sent eight batters to the plate and scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead after the Mets took a 3-1 lead. He had control problems in that inning. The moment turned out to be big for a usually composed veteran, and that’s why it’s disappointing and surprising.

The Mets best hitters didn’t help matters, either. Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor (2-for-15) combined to go 5-for-23 with no extra-base hits to show for it. Mark Canha went 2-for-11.

Compared to the Braves hitters, Olson and Swanson went 9-for-20 with six homers and nine RBI.

The Braves put a clinic on knowing how to get it done, and all the Mets can do is watch with envy.

It was a painful reminder as much as the Mets have come a long way, they have work to do before they can be on the Braves’ level.

Mets owner Steve Cohen attended all three games this weekend, and he had a birds-eye view on what happened. He knows money is not going to just compensate the team’s troubles by spending on players. The Mets need to build a foundation and culture like the Braves in knowing how to win and getting guys that have swagger. This comes with great drafting and strong player development. This means investing more in Latin America academies to produce players.

It’s going to take time. Remember the Braves didn’t become great overnight. They had some tough losses in recent years until they figured it out in last year’s postseason that had them being the World Series champions.

Mets fans don’t want to hear it now. They have every right to be disappointed after they were all hyped up. It wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t mean all have to be lost.

The Mets will get their shot against the Braves again, and they will be better for it. They can’t be any worse than they showed this weekend. They just had a bad weekend at the wrong time. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

There’s no question the Mets want to get another shot at them. This time when it matters in the postseason. That would be the ultimate scoreboard by beating them. Certainly, deGrom, Scherzer, Bassitt, Lindor and Alonso want another shot of redemption.

But the Mets have to be in that position first. This means they need to figure it out fast with the wild-card best-of-3 round starting Friday night. This won’t be easy. The San Diego Padres can hit and pitch, so if the Mets starters and stars can’t figure it out by then, this will be a quick end to what was a great season.

All the Mets can do now is hope they get that another chance and hope it ends differently the next time around.

In the meantime, the Braves showed once again they own the Mets when everything is on the line as we saw this weekend. They won the season series 10-9.

This could and should be the epitaph of the Mets’ season until they get a chance to change the narrative in the postseason.

This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6

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