Mets get best of Braves in big five-game series

There have been other baseball weekends at Citi Field since the Mets moved to the other side of the parking lot from where the old Shea Stadium stood. There was even a World Series weekend in 2015 against the Royals, when the Mets were trying to push that Fall Classic back to Kansas City. But even that one wasn’t any louder or more exciting than the ones the Mets gave their fans and gave that place this past weekend against the Braves.

Here is all you need to know, all the way until Edwin Díaz, the best closer on the planet, struck out the side Sunday to make it four wins for the Mets in five games: In the one game the Mets lost on Friday night, they fell behind, 8-0, after two innings and style brought the potential tying run to the plate in the sixth.

It is why the Mets came out of the Braves series and out of the weekend feeling like the kings of New York right now, even if they have the same record as the Yankees at 70-39.

At the same time the Dodgers, who have the best record, were dominating Juan Soto in a three-game sweep on the West Coast, the Mets looked every bit as dominating against the Braves as they were extending their lead in the NL East to 6 1/2 games.

And they did what they did against the Braves because their most important players, and their biggest stars, played like stars. Francisco Lindor, who would be the Mets MVP if Pete Alonso wasn’t, got eight hits in the five games against Atlanta, in 18 at-bats. He scored six runs and knocked in three and seemed to be on base all weekend long.

Alonso? h got eight hits of his own in the five games, in 19 at-bats, scored four and knocked in seven as he continues to go toe to toe with Aaron Judge for the RBI lead in baseball. Through Sunday’s games, Judge had 97 RBIs and Alonso had 95. And even though Judge has been the face of the game so far this season, there is simply no way to say that he has been more valuable to the Yankees than Pete Alonso, the Polar Bear, is to the Mets.

“The only way I can properly describe Pete is with an expression I heard a lot when I was growing up,” Buck Showalter said the other day. “He is country strong.”

Then there is Díaz. He began the weekend by getting a two-inning save on Thursday night and then finished things off, to the roar of trumpets from “Narco” by Blasterjaxx (it was probably still ringing in the ears of the Braves players when they got on the team plane), by just gassing Dansby Swanson, Matt Olson and Austin Riley to slam the door once and for all, in Game 5 of five.

And finally — maybe as a way of saving the best for last with two starters — there is the work of the Mets’ two aces, Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, making the top of the Mets’ rotation what they all hoped it would once Scherzer was signed as a free agent.

“Just wait until we’re at our best,” Showalter kept saying while the Mets waited through April and May and June and July for deGrom to be healthy again.

Scherzer and deGrom pitched a total of 12 2/3 innings this weekend. They combined to strike out 23 batters. The only walk was given up by deGrom (against the second-to-last hitter he faced Sunday) in the top of the sixth, before Swanson ended his day by taking deGrom over the wall in right-center. In his second start, deGrom retired the first 17 he faced, striking out 12 of them. On Saturday night, Scherzer struck out 11 in seven innings, no walks, giving up just four hits himself.

You want to know what Games 1 and 2 of a postseason series might look like at Citi Field? They might look something like that if Scherzer and deGrom stay healthy. Against the Braves, both reminded you of the T-shirts we first saw before the season even began, designed to look like a presidential ticket:

Again: On the East Coast, the Mets did look as formidable as the Dodgers did in Los Angeles, and the Mets did that against a better team — the Braves — than the Padres are at this time. Those two starts from Scherzer and deGrom, both looking as dominating as two starters possibly could. Save Nos. 24, 25 and 26 from Diaz. On top of all that, Showalter’s third hitter and their cleanup guy combined for 16 hits, 10 RBIs and 10 runs. Showalter is always talking about the way Lindor and Alonso “post up,” meaning they both go to the post just about every day. They will post up. And show up. And did all of that against the Braves.

The Mets showed up this past weekend, a great baseball weekend in New York, with their best guys and their best team. And who knows? Maybe, now that deGrom is back, they’re just getting started.


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