Installment #36: First Place for the First Time
On June 1, 2022, the Atlanta Braves shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-0. That same night, the New York Mets defeated the Washington Nationals 5-0. At this time, the Braves were 10-and-a-half games behind the Mets for 1st place in the National League East. Kind of far back behind the 8-ball indeed, but the Major League Baseball season being the marathon that it is, certainly enough time to catch up. Since that time, the Braves have posted a record of 64-26 and as of last night, are now in first place in their division for the first time all season, leading the New York Mets by a game-and-a-half with 24 games left in the regular season. What a summer!
Last night, the Braves got by a very good, playoff-contending Seattle Mariners team 6-4. This win gave them a record of 87-51 on the regular season and their eighth-straight victory. If they can keep winning at anywhere the rate that they have for the last three months, they could win 100 games for the first time since the 2003 campaign. For a team that was more than ten games behind the NL East division-leading New York Mets at the beginning of June and seven games out of first place on August 9, which was just a month ago, I’d say they are doing pretty good and winning games at the absolute right time. The question is, will they be able to keep it up?
Meanwhile the New York Mets, who are playing a three-game series against the Miami Marlins this weekend, dropped a game to the Fish 6-3 last night. This was the Mets fourth loss in the last seven games as they have struggled against sub-.500 teams like the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates during the previous week before losing this one to the Marlins. In addition to putting the Mets behind the Braves and out of first place in the division, the loss also finds the Mets without at least partial possession of the division lead for the first time since April 11. Looks like the New York Mets might be losing games at the absolute wrong time.
But being an Atlanta Braves fan, it feels good to talk that trash right now that for now, the Braves are enjoying the NL East division lead. There are still 24 games left before the playoffs get started in October and still a lot to be decided. After the Braves finish up this three-game series against the American League Wildcard-leading Mariners, they then travel to San Francisco to play a series against a talented San Francisco Giants team. After that, it is all NL East teams to complete the season. These include some games against the New York Mets, who the Braves have seemed to struggle against this year. And with how tight things are, I’m sure these teams are going to go down to the wire as they jockey for the NL East division crown and the No. 2 seed in the MLB playoffs. Whoever is in second place will get a wildcard spot and a tougher road in the post season. May the best team (the Braves) win and see if they can truly have a chance to defend their World Series title from a year ago.