ATLANTA (AP) – Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.
That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead grew to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.
“It’s a club full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s the only thing since I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the schedule.”
Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d’Arnaud hit a two-run single in the third inning and the Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of the their NL. Eastern opponent and leads the division by two games with three games to play.
The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets all season. In the final series of the season, any combination of an Atlanta win or a Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.
New York plays the final three games of the season against major-worst Washington. Atlanta closes the regular season with a three-game set at Miami. If the season ends Wednesday with a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s win.
“We’ve felt that confidence since the beginning of the year,” said d’Arnaud. “It just wasn’t working for us at the beginning of the year, but pulling the same rope, having each other’s backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”
The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 in that stretch. New York had a 10 ½ game lead on June 1, but is now the lowest in the standings at any point this season.
It was a losing weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to capture its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer missed Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/ 3 innings on Sunday.
“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going into the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there are a lot of learning points we can take from this series moving forward,” Pete Alonso said. . “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played outstanding baseball all weekend.”
Swanson drove Bassitt deep into right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took over with a triple. Bassitt (15-9) drew a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.
Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, the 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, topped 100 RBI for the second straight season.
“Everybody knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where he trusted the talent we have and the lads at the club. Everyone was steady, keep your head down, do your job, it’ll turn around and you’ll end up winning.”
Charlie Morton left runners on first and second in the first, but gave up Daniel Vogelbach’s 18th homer that tied the game at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.
Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth most in the NL.
Morton struggled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain in Atlanta on next season.
Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and went 1 1/3 innings, leaving after walking Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Colin McHugh came in and struck out Francisco Lindor.
Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, AJ Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen picked up his third straight save with a clean ninth.
Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.
The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, has gone 8 2/3 scoreless over the last two nights.
Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves are coming off their first 100-win season since 2003.
TWO, TOO HOT
McNeil went 3 for 5 and has a multi-hit streak in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth on the career hit list with 389. He is also the 10th closest in four different seasons with at least 40 saves.
Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (fractured right middle finger) has yet to start swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still hasn’t thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.
The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. In total. that’s 3,129,931 for the season — and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.
Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).
Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesús Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).
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