Mets and Dodgers tighten grip on divisions after victories over rivals

The Dodgers swept a three-game series against San Diego to take a 15.5-game lead in the NL West, and the Mets took four of five from Atlanta to move 6.5 up on the Braves in the NL East. That was after the Padres made serious waves at the deadline by acquiring Juan Soto, and the Braves added Jake Odorizzi and Raisel Iglesias.

Los Angeles weren’t all that active, The Dodgers took Joey Gallo off the Yankees’ hands but otherwise seemed content to lie low. Then they beat Soto, Manny Machado and the Padres three times by a combined 20-4 over the weekend. Los Angeles have won eight in a row and 30 of their last 35.

Machado, though, insisted the defeats were not troubling his team.

“Concerned?” he responded to reporters after Sunday’s loss. “Why would I be concerned? Not at all.”

Asked what gave him his confidence, the six-time All-Star joked: “I’m fucking Manny Machado.”

Like the Dodgers, the Mets were also fairly quiet at the deadline. Of course, they made a pretty big recent addition internally when Jacob deGrom returned to the mound for the first time in almost 13 months. New York lost his first start but won his second – when he took a perfect game into the sixth inning against Atlanta on Sunday.

The Braves have recovered nicely from a mediocre start, and at times they’ve seemed poised to overtake the Mets. But New York won two of three at Atlanta in the middle of last month and got the better of the Braves again this time. If deGrom and Max Scherzer are healthy and Edwin Diaz keeps rolling, the Mets can certainly feel good heading into any playoff series.

One man who doesn’t think the Mets will sail through the postseason is Braves pitcher Spencer Strider, who took the loss against New York on Sunday.

“A lot of weird hits,” he said after the game. “They seem to be having a lot of luck right now offensively. That’s great. It’s August. [We’ll] see what things are like in October.”

Los Angeles, meanwhile, have won 17 of their last 19 meetings against San Diego. The scary thing about the Dodgers is they can still improve. Justin Turner is expected back this coming week. And Los Angeles have gone on this extended run without Walker Buehler, who hasn’t pitched since June 10.

Elsewhere, what the AL Central and NL Central lack in dominant teams, they may make up for in excitement. Minnesota lead the AL Central by one game over Cleveland and two over the White Sox. That could be an intense race, since none of those teams are assured a wild card.

St Louis have won seven in a row and lead Milwaukee by two games in the NL Central. The Cardinals took three straight from the New York Yankees to end the week. The Brewers have lost six of seven and are 1.5 games out of a wild card.