When you’re in the middle of a playoff race, every game is crucial, and on Wednesday night, the New York Mets lost in the worst way possible, as Braves centerfielder Edgar Inciarte robbed Yoenis Cespedes of a walk-off homer to give Atlanta a 4-3 win and a three-game sweep – in New York.

Ouch.

“That’s a brutal loss for the Mets,” CBSSports.com MLB writer Mike Axisa said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The whole series, getting swept by the Braves at home when you’re in the middle of a Wild Card race, that’s a really tough series loss for the Mets. That catch is just the icing on the cake there.”

The Mets (80-72) are now in a three-way tie with St. Louis (80-72) and San Francisco (80-72) in the NL Wild Card race. They had gone 17-6 in their previous 23 games before this series.

“They were playing well for a few weeks right up until this series,” Axisa said. “They’ve done what they’re supposed to do against a lot of these bad teams, and then they run into the Braves. The Braves are playing better in the second half. They’ve been one of the best-hitting teams in baseball since the All-Star break, which really doesn’t make sense but it’s true. So they’re not a total pushover, but still, if you’re in a playoff race and you’re at home, you’ve got to beat this team. This is the second time the Braves swept the Mets in Citi Field this year. If the Mets don’t make the postseason, these are the series you look back on and say, ‘These were missed opportunities.’”

Jay Bruce, who was acquired before the trade deadline, has been abysmal for the Mets. He’s hitting .175 with a .253 OBP, four homers and 11 RBIs. He’s been so bad that Terry Collins lifted him for pinch-hitter Eric Campbell in Tuesday’s 5-4 loss to Atlanta. In his last five games, Bruce is 0-of-13 with three strikeouts.

“When they got Bruce, I thought it was an okay pickup,” Axisa said. “They didn’t really give up a ton to get him, but I kind of figured his numbers were going to take a step back. One of the reasons was when he was in Cincinnati, he’s hitting behind Joey Votto – and Joey Votto gets on base all the time. So he’s got pitchers in the stretch all the time, they’re throwing him mostly fast balls – I figured Bruce wouldn’t have that luxury in New York, but I never thought he would be this bad. Terry Collins was right to bench him. He was right to lift him for a pinch-hitter the other night because they need to win these games, and Bruce does not give them the best chance to win. If he doesn’t help (them), that’s what has to be done.”

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