Francisco Lindor always knew that the race for the National League East was going to come down to the wire between his Mets and the Atlanta Braves.
With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, New York holds a slim half-game lead over the defending World Series champions thanks to a doubleheader sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. They really just have the benefit of playing one more game than the Braves, who took down the Oakland Athletics in their series finale.
“I’ve said it from day 1. It’s going to be a tight race, it should be a tight race,” Lindor said. “They have a good team… At the end of the day, let’s see if we can lose less than they do.”
The Mets once held a lead as large as 10.5 games in the division back in June, but the Braves have gone on such a tear that the Mets winning at a 60% clip since then still hasn’t been enough to hold them off.
Since June 1, the Braves have gone 63-24 over their last 87 games. That’s a boggling .724 win percentage with a full-season pace of 117 wins.
It’s allowed them to tighten the gap despite the Mets going 53-34 during that same stretch — still, an impressive .609 win percentage that’s also a 98-win full-season pace.
New York lost its lead officially on Tuesday after a series-opening loss to the Pirates — which was their third straight against a last-place team following two duds against the Washington Nationals — saw a team not named the Mets hold at least a share of first place for the first time since April 11.
“We all understand we’re going to go through good times and bad times,” Lindor continued. “That’s the great thing about this team… we understand that not every day we’ll be successful. The last couple of days haven’t been the way we want it… We just focus on the daily job and try to win ball games.”
Despite the footsteps growing ever so louder, the Mets still very much control their own fate with 24 games remaining in the regular season where they still have an opportunity to clinch a division title for the first time since 2015.
“The mentality hasn’t changed. We come in happy, we come in excited, we come in united,” third baseman Eduardo Escobar said. “It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the other games. We have control. We have the control… We can’t really focus on what’s going on, we just have to make sure we go out there, prepare, and stay united.”