The Major League Baseball schedule Thursday evening was a bit light, but the main event delivered. The defending champion Braves were hosting the first-place Mets and the pitching matchup was a dandy in Max Fried vs. Jacob deGrom.
The Braves would prevail, 3-2.
Fried hadn't started since Aug. 6 due to a concussion, but he came in 10-4 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 127 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings this season. deGrom, of course, had only made three starts after finally returning from shoulder and elbow injuries. He came into the game at 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA, 0.42 WHIP and 28 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings.
The Braves would rally for a pair of runs in the third inning. The Mets would tie it in the fifth on a two-run shot from Mark Canha. In the seventh, Michael Harris drove home the go-ahead run on this incredibly aggressive Ron Washington send:
That grounder ended up a double. That run -- which scored from first -- was charged to deGrom even though he had just departed the game.
Fried gave up two runs in seven innings on four hits. The Braves managed three runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings against deGrom. The stud starters combined for 15 strikeouts without walking anyone.
In the bigger picture, the Braves took three of four in this series and trimmed the Mets' lead in the NL East to 3 1/2 games. Even just a Mets split would've had this to 5 1/2 games, so it was a huge deal from the Braves' end. The Mets had won six of eight in the previous two series.
The two teams don't play again until Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Atlanta in a three-game series that could determine the division. The Braves will need to outplay the Mets by a few games between now and then to make that possible, though.
Here's the remaining strength of schedule for each, using opponents' winning percentage.
- Braves (.484): 3 vs. HOU, 3 at PIT, 3 at STL, 3 vs. COL, 3 vs. MIA, 2 at OAK, 3 at SEA, 3 at SF, 3 vs. PHI, 3 vs. WSH, 4 at PHI, 3 at WSN, 3 vs. NYM, 3 at MIA
- Mets (.463): 4 at PHI, 2 at NYY, 4 vs. COL, 3 vs. LAD, 3 vs. WSN, 3 at PIT, 3 at MIA, 3 vs. CHC, 4 vs. PIT, 3 at MIL, 3 at OAK, 2 vs. MIA, 3 at ATL, 3 vs. WSN
It should be noted that the way this is shaping up, the winner of the division will end up with the No. 2 seed in the National League, which would give it a bye to the NLDS round. Whoever doesn't win will very likely be the No. 1 wild card (fourth seed), meaning it'll host a three-game series against the second wild card (fifth seed). There is no re-seeding in the new playoff format, therefore if things continue on this path, the Mets and Braves couldn't face each other in the postseason unless it was the NLCS.