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Mets clinch losing season as they watch Brewers clinch NL Central title.

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Today’s game was a reminder of what could have been for the 2021 Mets.

MLB: New York Mets at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

At the start of the year, Mets fans dreamed of turning on their television at some point in late September and watching their beloved team celebrate a division title. As recently as July 28, the Mets held a 4.5 game lead in the NL East, and you wouldn’t fault any fan for starting to envision what that celebration might look like and which date it might take place. Earlier today, Mets fans got to watch a team celebrate on their television, but it was the Brewers who were partying with their fans after beating the Mets 8-4 and clinching the NL Central division.

The game itself was one not unlike many that fans have witnessed over the course of the past two months, as the Mets were once again outclassed by a superior team. New York actually jumped out in front in this one, as Francisco Lindor drove Freddy Peralta’s 3-2 pitch over the right field wall for his 18th home run of the year.

The lead was short-lived, as Carlos Carrasco was unable to escape the first inning unscathed. Kolten Wong started the inning with a hard-fought walk, and Willy Adames launched Carrasco’s 1-1 offering into the second deck in left field for a two-run home run. Christian Yelich then singled through the vacant hole to the left of second base, but the right-hander was able to get out of the inning without allowing any further runs. Carrasco has now allowed first inning runs in all but one start this year, and he sports an unsightly 14.73 ERA and 2.45 WHIP in the first inning, as opposed to a 3.11 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in innings two through sevent. Of the ten homers he’s allowed, eight have come in the first.

His second inning didn’t go much better, as Lorenzo Cain started the inning with a single after robbing Tomás Nido of a home run to end the top of that frame. Both Wong and Adames walked to load the bases, and Yelich grounded out to Pete Alonso to drive in the third run of the game. Eduardo Escobar ripped a single through the right side of the infield to bring in two more Milwaukee runs, extending the Brewers’ lead to four.

The Mets drew closer in the fourth, as Michael Conforto began the inning with a single, and Alonso ripped a double into the right field corner to put runners in scoring position with nobody out. Javier Báez lined up a double into left field to cut the deficit in half. The hit also extended his on-base streak to 18 and his hitting streak to ten games, as he continues his solid play in the final weeks of the year.

Carrasco pitched scoreless third and fourth innings, but he was done after that. He allowed five earned runs on seven hits in four innings, walking four and striking out three during his subpar outing. With that, his ERA on the year rose to 5.73. He will have one more start against the Braves next weekend as he hopes to finish off his season on a high note.

After a scoreless inning from Miguel Castro in the fifth, New York got to within a run in the sixth. After Conforto flew out to begin the inning, Alonso walked and Báez singled to put two runners on with one out. Craig Counsell then removed Peralta in favor of the left-hander Brent Suter, and he struck out Villar. Kevin Pillar pinch hit for McNeil and blooped a single over short to get the Mets to within a run. Nido flew out to end the inning.

Things unraveled for New York in the sixth, in an inning Gary Cohen eventually would call a “comedy of errors”. Jeurys Familia entered and was having trouble locating his slider from the start. He walked Daniel Vogelbach and then surrendered a double to Wong. Adames followed by grounding the ball to Villar, and the third baseman double clutched while trying to throw the ball to home. Having lost the play at home, he turned to first and uncorked a throw to Alonso, who was not anticipating the play and was out of position, which resulted in one run crossing the plate and the runners ending up second and third.

Aaron Loup entered and got Yelich to pop up, but Escobar then hit a grounder to Lindor, who threw a one-hopper to Alonso. The ball bounced off the first baseman’s glove, which allowed two more runs to score to make it 8-4. While the error was charged to Lindor, the mistake itself could best be attributed to Alonso (not that it mattered).

The party was on from there before a sell out crowd of over 43,000 fans in Milwaukee. Around the time this game was winding down, the Cardinals came back from their one-run deficit to defeat the Cubs 4-2 and extend their winning streak to 16—the longest by any National League squad since the 1951 New York Giants. With their magic number at one at the start of the day, this put the Brewers in the enviable position of being able to clinch on their own terms, and they did not squander the opportunity.

The Brewers’ bullpen put up scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth, and ninth, retiring the final seven batters of the game. The Mets got two on in the seventh, but couldn’t close the gap, and they went down meekly in the eighth and ninth. Counsell turned to Josh Hader, pitching in his third straight game, in a non-save situation, and he had no trouble turning aside the Mets. He struck out Nido and the pinch hitter James McCann, and got Brandon Nimmo to fly out to left to end the game, as confetti rained down on the field while the Mets looked on with exhausted and disappointed expressions on their faces.

The scene the Brewers and their fans enjoyed on Sunday is something the Mets should have experienced, but the club could not get out of its own way in the second half and completely collapsed, going from a 90-game stretch in first place to a third place finish and a sub-.500 record. It is a disappointing conclusion to a demoralizing season, and the club’s leadership will have its work cut out for them as they look to fix this mess in the offseason.

For now, the Mets return home to Citi Field for their final four home games of the year against the Marlins. They will play a doubleheader on Tuesday, with Marcus Stroman and Trevor Williams getting the ball in Game 1 and Game 2, respectively.

Box scores

MLB
ESPN

*illar of the Game

Kevin Pillar: Pillar came in as a pinch hitter and drove in the team’s fourth run of the game, so he gets the honor for today’s loss.

Win Probability Added

Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Kevin Pillar, 12.3% WPA
Big Mets loser: Carlos Carrasco, -30.1% WPA
Mets pitchers: -45.7% WPA
Mets hitters: -4.3% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Kevin Pillar run-scoring single in the sixth, 12.7% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Willy Adames two-run homer in the first, -15.9% WPA

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