The worst-case scenario occurred for the New York Mets down in Atlanta.
Needing just one win to at least continue controlling their own fate, they were swept by the Braves, who put the finishing touches on the three-game swing in the division standings by defeating New York 5-3 on Sunday night at Truist Park.
With it, the defending World Series champions opened up a two-game series lead over the Mets in the National League East with three games left to play — shrinking their magic number to just one.
Meanwhile, the Mets are all but confirmed to be relegated to the best-of-there Wild Card round where they’ll host the San Diego Padres. Should they emerge from that series victorious, the reward would be an NLDS showdown with the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers.
Such an imposing path made this series in Atlanta all the more important, but the Mets were taught a difficult lesson on how to win when it matters the most.
Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson each homered again on Sunday night to record round-trippers in each of the series’ three games against the Mets.
Swanson took Mets starter Chris Bassitt out in the first inning to give Atlanta an early 1-0 lead, but Daniel Vogelbach quickly found a response in the second with a solo big fly of his own.
The Mets took a lead in the top of the third when the red-hot Jeff McNeil lifted his eighth home run of the season out to right and Vogelbach drove in his second RBI of the night with a single to put the visitors up 3-1. But Bassitt would falter to continue the trend of starting pitching falling woefully short down in Georgia.
After Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer combined to allow seven runs in 11.2 innings pitched in the opening two games of the series, Bassitt couldn’t get out of the third inning, allowing three in the bottom of the third when he walked Olson to force in a run with the bases loaded before ex-Met Travis d’Arnaud drove in a pair with a two-out single.
Olson put Atlanta up two with his 33rd home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning against Seth Lugo.
New York’s offense was non-existent after the third inning — as it had been for the entire series — leaving nine men on base while scoring just five runs over the three-game set.
The Mets return home to Citi Field for the final three games of the regular season against the Washington Nationals while the Braves take on the Miami Marlins, needing just one win to wrap up the NL East.