This is the way the New York Mets ’ season ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. After a valiant run that began in earnest on July 23 and saw them go 16-2 to climb to within a half-game of a Wild Card spot, the team couldn’t maintain that level of success throughout the later stages of the season and were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. The Milwaukee Brewers took care of business against the Cincinnati Reds to officially eliminate New York from playoff contention, 50 years to the day after the Mets celebrated clinching the National League East title for the first time in franchise history.
For eight-and-a-half innings, it seemed as if the Mets would officially be eliminated from playoff contention. Then, with the Mets three outs away from an official end to their fading playoff hopes, Michael Conforto came through with a clutch two-run home run to force the game into extra innings. In the eleventh, Brandon Nimmo came through with a bases loaded walk to force home the winning run and keep the team’s dreams of a miraculous run on life support. In the process, the Mets clinched their first winning season since 2016 and only the third in the Citi Field era.
Noah Syndergaard got the nod with Tomas Nido behind the plate after struggling in his last three starts. This outing didn’t go much better for Thor, who gave up four runs for the fourth straight start. He lasted just five innings once again and had to deal with runners on base in each inning. He put runners on first and third with nobody out in the first after a Jon Berti leadoff single and a Miguel Rojas hit. It was the first of three singles for Berti off Syndergaard, who had hits in seven straight at-bats against the Mets and went 16-for-33 overall against New York before Chris Mazza struck him out in the sixth. Syndergaard recovered to retire the next three batters via strikeout while working around a Rojas stolen base.
After Sandy Alcantara sat the Mets down in order in the first, Isan Diaz led off the second with a home run against Syndergaard to put the Marlins ahead. Citi Field marks the spot where Diaz hit his first career home run back on August 5 against Jacob deGrom in the nightcap of a split-admission double header. After putting away the next batter, Austin Dean picked up a one-out double and came home on a Berti infield single while hustling around third to catch the Mets flat-footed. Berti then stole his second base of the game, representing the 41st steal that Syndergaard has allowed on the year. Later in the game, Jorge Alfaro would pick up a stolen base of his own to make it a league-worst 42 against the Mets’ struggling right-hander.
Syndergaard ran into trouble again in the third after allowing a leadoff double to Neil Walker. After striking out Alfaro, Diaz brought the former Met home on a single through the hole between first and second. Berti added his third hit against Syndergaard in the fourth, although it was one of the only innings the Mets’ starter kept Miami off the board.
The Mets had the chance to score in the fourth after Jeff McNeil led off with a single and Robinson Cano added a one-out single of his own. J.D. Davis followed with a fly out, and Michael Conforto was promptly retired to end the threat. Walker then led off the fifth with another double and came around to score on Alfaro’s single up the middle to make it a four-run cushion for Miami.
That closed the book on Syndergaard, who went five innings and gave up ten hits while being charged with four earned runs for a fourth consecutive start. He struck out seven but never seemed comfortable on the mound. His body language showed constant frustration, either at his lack of results or in the team’s plight. In any event, one of the most troubling aspects of the team’s September has been the Syndergaard failures after the pitcher had a terrific final month in 2018 to give the team hope at what he could do in 2019. With one start left to go, Syndergaard’s fate and future in New York will likely be a big talking point for much of the offseason.
The Mets finally got on the board against Alcantara in the seventh. After a leadoff double from J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto deposited his 32nd home run of the year into the right field bullpen to cut Miami’s lead in half. Amed Rosario reached on a throwing error, but the next six Mets went down in order. New York entered the ninth with three outs to save their season, and save their season they did—temporarily. Davis led off with his second hit of the game but was pinch run for, which removed him from what could’ve been a pivotal tenth inning at-bat. Instead, it was Rajai Davis who came around to score when Conforto hit his second home run of the game almost to the exact same spot, this time off Jose Urena. The Mets weren’t able to muster another run, and the game drifted into extra innings.
Jeurys Familia entered in the tenth and allowed the first hit by a Mets’ reliever on the evening. Despite that, he was able to navigate a scoreless frame. In the bottom of the inning, Cano drew a two-out walk and was replaced on the basepaths by Sam Haggerty. Juan Lagares, who came up in Davis’ spot in the lineup, struck out feebly to end the inning.
After Paul Sewald pitched a scoreless inning, the Mets got to work in the eleventh. Conforto led off with a walk against Adam Conley. Don Mattingly turned to Jeff Brigham, who promptly plunked Rosario on the arm. After a wild pitch, Todd Frazier was intentionally walked to get to Wilson Ramos, who entered late in the game. Ramos grounded out to third base, bringing up Nimmo with the bases loaded and one out. As Nimmo does so often, he drew a walk, which drove home the winning run and gave the Mets their 82nd win of the year. It was also the first victory of Sewald’s career. Prior to last night, Sewald had gone a major league record 118 games before picking up his first career win.
The Brewers’ win over the Reds means the Mets cannot lose another game while the Brewers cannot win another game. The Mets will send Jacob deGrom to the hill as he looks to cap off what is, in all likelihood, another Cy Young-winning season. deGrom will be opposed by Robert Dugger of the Marlins.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Michael Conforto, 71.4% WPA, Amed Rosario, 25.3% WPA, Jeurys Familia, 12.1% WPA, Paul Sewald, 12.1% WPA
Big losers: Noah Syndergaard, -22.5% WPA, Wilson Ramos, -22.4% WPA, Pete Alonso, -12.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: 7.1% WPA
Total batter WPA: 42.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Michael Conforto ninth-inning home run, 46.2% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Isan Diaz second-inning home run, -11.8% WPA