Consider this a difficult lesson learned for the New York Mets.
They were outworked, outmanaged, and outclassed by a better Braves team down in Atlanta over the weekend, cutting through Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Chris Bassitt to overturn a divisional deficit they had been chasing all season when it matters most.
The Braves now have the National League East division — which they had led for just two days all year entering Friday night’s series opener — for keeps as there’s no way out and not enough time for the Mets to provide a counterpunch.
Instead, they’ll have to shake off the gut punch that comes with fumbling away what would have been their seventh-ever division title and begin preparing to play extra postseason games in the Wild Card series.
“There’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.
“I feel like they just flat-out beat us this weekend. They played well. Good for them. Tip your hat.”
Of course, it didn’t have to come to this.
After taking two of three from the Dodgers, the Mets entered play on Sept. 2 with a three-game series lead and an unusually soft schedule ahead of them.
They had the bottom two teams in the NL East, the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins eight times. They had the NL Central’s third-and-fourth-placed teams, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates 10 times. They had the worst team in the American League, the Oakland Athletics, three times.
They went 12-9, including a sweep at the hands of the Cubs and losing two of three to the Nationals at Citi Field. That inability to put the NL East away saw them enter the weekend’s series in Atlanta with just a one-game lead — one that evaporated in the blink of an eye.
Nothing left to do but to turn the page.
“We’re human beings. It’s not like they’re not going to get a chance. They’ve earned something, regardless… I’m proud of everything they’ve done. This is not conditional,” said skipper Buck Showalter. “It’s unconditional, the support, and if I know these guys, they will rebound and make somebody feel their pain.”