One week to go, a handful of games remaining, and the National League East division between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves are a dead heat.
The Mets’ lead, which had been as large as 10.5 games four months ago, has been under siege ever since as the Braves have played at an astounding 115-win pace since June 1.
During that stretch, the Mets have relented sole possession of first place just twice — though if there were a sour taste in the mouths of some around Queens, it would be understandable.
New York has had a golden opportunity to put the division away in September considering they had the weakest schedule on paper in the majors. Instead, they’ve gone 12-10 in their last 22 games, including a head-scratching 1-6 against a combination of the lowly Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, and Miami Marlins at Citi Field.
“If you asked me in February, some people might have taken you up on that,” manager Buck Showalter said on his team’s current standing following Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss to Miami. “Our guys have worked hard to create an opportunity. We turn the page.”
Looming on Friday — weather permitting — is likely the make-or-break point in the Mets’ chase for a seventh-ever division crown against the Braves down in Atlanta. With it comes the resolution of what will be considered one of the best heavyweight bouts for the NL East ever as both teams are projected to crack the 100-win mark.
“This is fun. This is really, really fun being in a race like this,” New York slugger Pete Alonso said. “Every day is a chance to be great. Tomorrow is another chance for us to be great. We just want to continue playing the great baseball we’ve been playing all year.”
It only helps that despite the struggles and the endless pursuit of a defending World Series champion, the Mets still very much hold their destiny in their own hands.
“If we win, that really takes care of itself… We just need to do our job,” Alonso said. “Right now it’s easy. It’s an easy constant. Just win. That’s really all you can do. If we win more than we lose, we’ll be on top. If we lose more than we win, we’ll be in the Wild Card.”