After the Braves lost on Monday and the Mets held on to win the first game of their doubleheader this afternoon, they needed to take care of business against the Nationals in the nightcap and pray that the lowly Marlins could steal another victory from the Braves tonight to keep the Mets’ chances at a division crown alive for another day.
Lo and behold, the Marlins could not push more than one run across against Jake Odorizzi or the Braves’ stout bullpen. The Braves scored two, which is more than one, to beat the Marlins and clinch the NL East for the fifth straight season, a division the Mets led this year for over 170 days.
It still stings, but it was fairly inevitable after they were swept away in Atlanta this weekend. Hopefully Mets fans have moved on to acceptance and can look forward to the Wild Card series this weekend.
The Mets at least held up their end tonight and blew out the Nationals tonight by a score of 8-0. They put the screws to Paolo Espino while the game still mattered, hilariously hitting three consecutive homers off him in the first three batters they sent to the plate; Brandon Nimmo, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil all took Espino deep before he could record an out. It’s the first time in Mets history that the first three hitters of the game homered. That kicked off a seven-run first inning in which the Mets batted around, and Nimmo not only hit that homer, but also poked a bloop single to score the sixth and seventh runs in the frame. It was the most spirited the Mets’ offense has looked in quite some time, and in fact is the most runs they’ve scored in a first inning all season.
Taijuan Walker worked up a pitch count, but still struck out 10 Nats and walked none in just 4.1 innings. He could have continued pitching beyond that, but he was pulled almost immediately once the Braves won their game, eliminating the Mets from winning the division, and rendering this game meaningless. Stephen Nogosek came in and fired an 2.2 innings of shutout ball in relief, and Tylor Megill followed with 1.2 innings of his own. Mets pitchers struck out 17 Nationals on the night.
After the top of the fifth, Buck Showalter pulled almost all of his starters. Francisco Álvarez came in to catch, James McCann moved to first base, Mark Vientos came in at third, Luis Guillorme moved to short, Tyler Naquin came in to play RF, Terrance Gore entered at CF, and the only starters who stayed out there all night were Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil.
This at least allowed Álvarez to take his first low-stress at bat of his career in the sixth inning, and he shined, launching a 439 foot blast into the left field landing, his first MLB home run and hit. He then laced a double into left field in his next at bat. This is obviously an encouraging sign as he tries to get into a groove; he will likely serve as the Mets’ right-handed DH in the playoffs.
The Mets won, obviously, by a score of 8-0. It’s their 100th win of the season, which is just the fourth time in franchise history they’ve reached the century mark in wins. The first three? 1969, 1986, and 1988
The Mets’ path to the World Series is now far more difficult than it would’ve been had they held on to the NL East lead, but a path does indeed exist. They will host either the Padres or Phillies on Friday in the first playoff game they’ve played since 2016, and the chance to still make is a special season is still present. This is still a great team. They can still amend for their terrible weekend in Atlanta.