Braves' run reminiscent of '93 - but stakes are different


Atlanta finally passed the New York Mets — then the Braves ran into their mirror image from the American League.

That would be the Seattle Mariners, who took two of three from the Braves and are 50-22 in their last 72 games. Atlanta has played at an even better clip, going 64-26 since the start of June. That helped the Braves erase a 10 1/2-game deficit in the NL East, even though the first-place Mets never played all that badly.

Atlanta moved a half-game ahead of New York when it won the opener of its series in Seattle on Friday night, but now the Braves trail by 1 1/2 games after a wild finish Sunday. Atlanta scored five runs in the top of the ninth to take a one-run lead, only for Julio Rodriguez and Eugenio Suarez to hit solo homers in the bottom half for an 8-7 Seattle victory.

The Mariners are closing in on their first postseason appearance since 2001. The Braves are trying to defend the World Series title they won last year. The race atop the NL East is starting to resemble another famous one involving Atlanta — from the NL West in 1993.

That year, San Francisco was 10 games ahead of the Braves in late July, then went 38-27 the rest of the way. It somehow wasn't enough. Atlanta closed on a 49-16 tear to win the division, 104 victories to 103.

That was the final postseason before wild cards, so the Giants were left out of the playoffs entirely. The Mets and Braves don't have to worry about that this year, barring a massive collapse. But the winner in this NL East chase — in which both teams are on pace for at least 100 wins — would probably end up with a bye into the Division Series. That's no small thing.

The Mets now hold an unusual distinction as the team that posted the best record while blowing a double-digit lead in their division, according to Sportradar. New York led by 10 1/2 games at the start of June, then went 51-34 — for a .600 winning percentage — before being caught by the Braves for the first time last Tuesday.

In 1993, the Giants built their 10-game lead and then went 24-20 (.545) before the Braves first caught up to them.