A series in August isn't necessarily do or die, but with just 3.5 games separating the first place New York Mets and second place Atlanta Braves and five games at stake, one team besting the other would certainly swing the pendulum.
The pendulum swung in the Mets favor this weekend, as New York took four games out of five from Atlanta to extend their lead in the National League East to 6.5 games, and seven in the loss column.
"Winning four out of five with only seven games left, it doesn't leave them a whole lot of room," Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo said Sunday about the Braves. "They're 6.5 games back now, so it doesn't leave them room for catching us by beating us. We're a tough team to beat."
The Mets kicked off the series on Thursday night by beating Atlanta 6-4.
New additions Tyler Naquin and Daniel Vogelbach combined for three home runs, Pete Alonso chipped in a long ball of his own and Edwin Diaz shut the door for two innings out of the bullpen.
Taijuan Walker had an uncharacteristic implosion on Friday and surrendered eight runs, giving Atlanta their lone win in the series, but New York rebounded to sweep the doubleheader on Saturday, and finished it off with a dominant win behind Jacob deGrom on Sunday.
New York is 8-4 against the Braves this year, and are 37-14 against the National League East as a whole. That is the best record by any team in baseball against teams in their division. New York has also not lost a series to National League East foes this year.
When the Mets played the Braves in July, they sent a message by taking two games out of three in Atlanta. With this series, they put an exclamation point on that message.
There's still a lot of baseball left to be played, but the Mets have set themselves up for a postseason run for the first time since 2016.
Manager Buck Showalter is staying humble in the midst of it all, and is just focused on the task at hand, even after defeating a division rival.
“Every weakness and strength shows up, and there are no Cinderellas,” Showalter said on Sunday. “You earn everything. That’s what I take out of it, that we won some games in a long, tough series against a very good club. That doesn’t give us anything tomorrow.”
The Mets will face National League East opponents 15 times in their next 18 games, so they will have a chance to make further progress within the division.