When an out was recorded about 1,100 miles away Tuesday night, the New York Mets turned their focus from shooting for the second-biggest miracle in franchise history to beginning the pursuit of the team’s third championship.
The Mets will tune up for the playoffs on Wednesday afternoon, when New York is scheduled to host the Washington Nationals in the regular-season finale for both teams.
New York hadn’t announced a starter as of late Tuesday, and it might go with a bullpen game. Right-hander Erick Fedde (6-12, 5.27 ERA) is expected to start for the Nationals.
The Mets reached 100 wins for the first time in 34 years as their hopes of winning the National League East ended Tuesday, when they swept the Nationals in a doubleheader. New York earned a 4-2 victory in the opener before rolling to an 8-0 win in the nightcap.
The Mets (100-61), who led the NL East for 175 days this season and held a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1, were officially locked into a wild-card berth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when Kenley Jansen got Jordan Groshans to fly out to right to close out the Atlanta Braves’ 2-1 win over the host Miami Marlins.
To win the division, New York needed to sweep the Nationals and have the Braves (101-60) get swept by the Marlins. Atlanta held the tiebreaker by virtue of its 10-9 season-series win over the Mets, whom it swept last weekend in Georgia.
While the Braves get the NL’s second bye and an automatic berth in the division series, the Mets are slated to open the playoffs by hosting the fifth-seeded San Diego Padres in a best-of-three wild-card series starting Friday.
“We knew we had to take care of business in Atlanta — we didn’t do it,” said Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker, who struck out 10 over 4 1/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday before being pulled immediately after the Braves completed their win. “But to win 100 games in a season is something special, too.
“The Braves are a really good team, but so are we. To get 100 wins, we really have to be proud of ourselves for that. And now we’ve got to focus on (the Padres).”
The Mets haven’t won the World Series since 1986 — 17 years after the “Miracle Mets” won it all for a franchise that had never finished higher than ninth in the National League nor lost fewer than 89 games in its first seven seasons.
The Nationals (55-106), three seasons removed from winning the World Series, hope Wednesday marks the end of their downturn. Washington is assured of finishing with the worst record in the majors and is one loss shy of matching the second-most defeats in franchise history. The Expos went 55-107 in 1976, seven years after Montreal finished 52-110.
“I’ve always said that you are what your record says you are, and our record says we’re the worst team in the league right now,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday afternoon. “And it’s hard to argue with that.”
Fedde took a loss on Friday when he allowed three runs (two earned) over five innings as the Nationals fell 5-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the opener of a doubleheader. He is 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA in 16 career games (11 starts) against the Mets, 1-1 with a 6.57 ERA in three starts vs. New York this year.
–Field Level Media