ATLANTA — It was the biggest moment of the season and the Mets failed to meet it.
When the Mets landed in Atlanta, they had a one-game lead on the Braves in the NL East. They left two games back after a sweep at the hands of their division rivals. They fell 5-3 on Sunday night in the series finale at Truist Park, capping a disappointing weekend that may have sealed their fate as a wild card team.
If this was a litmus test to see how the Mets (98-61) stack up next to the defending World Series champs in crunch time, then it’s clear that this squad isn’t there yet. They were outplayed in nearly every facet of the game. They had three aces lined up — two of which are some of the best big-game pitchers on the planet — and they failed the test against the Braves (100-59).
Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer and Chris Bassitt combined for 11 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings. These are the types of games these pitchers were born for, and they couldn’t come through.
But it’s not that simple. Atlanta’s lineup is one of the best and deepest in baseball. Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson hit home runs in all three games of the series, with Swanson taking all three starters deep.
The Mets, on the other hand, scored only seven runs over 27 innings. That’s not enough for any pitcher, let alone world-class ones like deGrom and Scherzer. Much has been made about how the Braves are homer-heavy and the Mets manufacture runs, but they didn’t manufacture many.
That point was underscored in the third inning when they scored two runs and stranded two runners. The Mets put nine runners on over the first three innings, driving up Charlie Morton’s pitch count. But they plated only three of them.
Daniel Vogelbach homered off Morton to lead off the second inning and tie the game at 1-1. Jeff McNeil, who is chasing former Braves and current Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman for the batting title, led off the third with one of his own. Morton then gave up three straight singles to score Pete Alonso. The bottom of the order went down in order and the Mets came away with only a one-run lead.
It wasn’t enough.
Former Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud blew the game open in the bottom of the inning with a two-run single off of Bassitt. Olson’s third homer of the game came off Seth Lugo in the sixth.
Bassitt (15-9) was shaky from the start and lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs on three hits, walking three and hitting one. Morton (10-6) limited the Mets to three runs over 4 1/3 innings and the bullpen blanked them the rest of the way. Kenley Jansen earned his 29th save and his third in as many nights.