Braves, Mets headed toward epic showdown

September 8th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman's Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Buckle up and enjoy as the Braves and Mets battle like it’s 1999.
After losing sole possession of first place for the first time this year following Tuesday's game, the Mets swept a doubleheader in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Braves enter Thursday’s off-day sitting just a half-game back in a National League East race that some considered over when New York began June with a 10 1/2-game lead. 
When the Braves moved into a first-place tie on Tuesday,’s Sarah Langs reported the Mets became the eighth team since divisions began (1969) to have a 10-plus-game division lead, then have another team either tie or overtake them for first place at some point. 
How have the Braves done this? Well, as the Mets have produced a 98-win pace by going 53-34 going back to June 1, the Braves have produced a 117-win pace by going 63-24.
Though the Braves have had a couple of tight division battles since 2000, this year’s race feels like it’s the most intense Atlanta has experienced since 1999. The Mets stayed close throughout that season and even claimed a couple of brief division leads in August. Chipper Jones then clinched the NL MVP Award when he helped the Braves clinch the NL East by going 5-1 against the Mets over the season’s final two weeks.  

This year’s schedule unfortunately includes just three more matchups between these two teams. But there’s certainly reason to believe the division might be decided when the Mets come to Atlanta for a three-game series Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
The Mets wish they could have held their once-comfortable lead, and the Braves wish they had been more successful during the season’s first couple months. But both teams now have the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of a tight pennant race.
“You love that time of year when you wake up, get a cup of coffee and you can’t wait to get to the ballpark, because you want to play the next game,” manager Brian Snitker said. “These games all mean something and that’s what you play for.”
The Mets’ remaining schedule includes: The Marlins (five games), Cubs (three games), Pirates (four games), Brewers (three games), A’s (three games), Braves (three games) and Nationals (three games).
The Braves’ remaining schedule includes: The Mariners (three games), Giants (three games), Phillies (seven games), Nationals (six games), Mets (three games) and Marlins (three games).
Of course, whenever Bobby Cox was asked something about how one team’s road might be harder than another team’s, he would always say, “You play the schedule.” It was like he knew a great team like the Mets could be capable of totaling four runs while losing three straight to the Nationals and Pirates from Saturday-Tuesday.