The Mets swept the Braves in a doubleheader on Saturday during a series that could prove to be significant in deciding which team sets itself up better for the playoffs.'
Francisco Lindor starred in the 8-5 win to start things off on Saturday. The shortstop went 3 for 4 with a double, two runs and three RBIs. David Peterson threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, handing to the ball to the bullpen with a nice lead -- and they'd need most of it, as the Braves scored five runs in the final three innings, including a three-run ninth.'
In the nightcap, Max Scherzer went out and did Max Scherzer things in a 6-2 win. The 38-year-old ace continues to fend off Father Time in impressive fashion. He struck out 11 without walking anyone in seven scoreless innings. He only gave up four hits and now has a 1.98 ERA with 120 strikeouts against 17 walks in 95 2/3 innings this season.'
This means the Mets have taken three of four so far in this five-game series. The series was an opportunity for the Braves to make a serious move on the Mets, if not take the lead in the NL East overall.'
Instead, it's the Mets that have taken some control here, as they look to build back that early lead that they nearly blew.'
Exactly two weeks ago, the Mets lost their second straight game to the Padres, at home, out of the All-Star break. In tandem with a Braves win that day (June 23), the Mets' once-10 1/2-game lead in the NL East had shrunk to a half game.'
The Mets have gone 11-2 since then. After the doubleheader sweep on Saturday, the lead is 5 1/2 games and hasn't been that big since June 21.'
The Braves had that 14-game winning streak to start June and went 21-6 that month. They followed it up with an 18-8 July. As they whittled the Mets' once-monstrous lead, many believed it was inevitable that the Braves would overtake the Mets.'
The Mets have held strong, though, especially in the head-to-head matchups. The two teams split a series in early May, but since the division was tightened up, the Mets have taken five of seven from the Braves to stave them off.'
The good news for the Braves is there is still a game Sunday, and then there's a four-game series in Atlanta right around the corner (Aug. 15-18). Then again, they've had plenty of opportunities to run down the Mets in the last six weeks and the Mets just keep holding them off.'