ATLANTA — Matt Olson and Dansby Swanson were too young to fully appreciate what Chipper Jones did when the Mets and Braves last played a major season-ending series in Atlanta. But the two suburban Atlanta natives emulated Jones as they pushed the defending World Series champions one step away from a fifth straight National League East title.
Showing they’re ready to enjoy another deep playoff run, the Braves completed a three-game sweep with a 5-3 win over the Mets on Sunday night at Truist Park. Both Olson and Swanson homered in each of three games, and Atlanta remained in control throughout one of baseball’s greatest series of the year.
Games remaining: 3
Ranking update: Braves down by two games
Tie-breaking info: Atlanta holds the tiebreaker due to winning the season head-to-head series (10-9)
Magic number for NL East: A
“When I got to the park on Friday, I said to my wife, ‘Well, the playoffs start today,’ and that’s how I felt all playoff weekend,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “These guys were ready for it. They were ready to fight this fight.
The Braves entered the June 10 games 1/2 behind the Mets, and they lost four of five to New York in early August. But that same resilient group that won last year’s World Series despite having no winning record until August finished the regular season strong again.
With that sweep, Atlanta clinched its 100th win, took a two-game lead with three games remaining, and slashed its magic number even further. The NL East race would be decided with any Braves win in Miami or any loss the Mets might suffer against the Nationals.
The only way the Braves would be denied a division title would be if they lost three to Miami while the Mets won each of their last three games.
“Nothing is done yet,” Swanson said. “It’s still part of the journey, and there’s still a lot of time left. There’s no point in expiring. I feel like you have to keep going out there and competing and playing every day.”
Swanson has certainly allowed his competitive spirit to shine. The Braves shortstop hit the game-tying home run against Max Scherzer on Saturday, then energized the home crowd again when he homered in Sunday’s first inning against Chris Bassitt. He contributed to Friday’s victory with a home run by Jacob deGrom.
Swanson became the first Braves player to homer in all three games against the Mets since Andruw Jones in 2006. Five innings later, Olson became the second.
Olson and Swanson were just five years old when Chipper Jones homered four in his nine at-bats in a three-game sweep against the Mets in Atlanta late in the 1999 season. York entered this series one game behind the division leader and left it in second place for good.
With their performances, Olson and Swanson may have rekindled some of that pain that Jones created 23 years ago.
“I grew up in, I guess you could call it, ‘The Hate Era’ from New York fans to Chipper,” Olson said. “And they don’t hate you if you don’t do anything.”
The Braves had a lot to enjoy during this streak that began with wins over deGrom and Scherzer. Max Fried battled a stomach bug to pitch five solid innings in Game 1 of the series and Kyle Wright picked up his 21st victory after stumbling in the first inning Saturday. The bullpen also thrived as Kenley Jansen made three saves and the relief corps allowed just one run in 12 2/3 innings.
But the most encouraging development came from Olson, who entered the game Monday hitting .102 with a home run and .353 OPS in his last 25 games. The first baseman has now managed five of his last six games, including each of the last four.
Olson, Swanson and Austin Riley have all struggled over the past two months. But like Jones in 1999, each of them rose to the occasion just in time to seemingly crush the Mets’ hopes for a division title once again.
“We’re going to take advantage of the sweep and then come down to Miami to take care of business,” Olson said.
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