|Carlos Carrasco facing C.J. Abrams in the first inning of Game 1 on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The Mets entered Tuesday night still in the hunt for the National League East crown, and they did all their part, as they swept the Washington Nationals in their doubleheader on Tuesday night, 4-2 and 8-0, giving them 100 wins for just the fourth time in their history.
The one thing they could not control was what the Atlanta Braves would do in Miami, and they went on to win, 2-1, over the Marlins in Miami to clinch the NL East for the fifth straight season. The Braves improved to 101-60, one game ahead of the Mets with one to play, and they clinched it by virtue of winning the season series, 10-8, which was made possible by their sweep of the Mets over the weekend, when they flipped a one-game Mets lead, outlasted a Mets team that led the division all season, aside from a few days.
GAME 1: METS 4, NATIONALS 2
The most remarkable thing about this one to start the day was that it began at 4:11 p.m., and they played in the rain to start it.
Brandon Nimmo got the Mets on the board first when he laced a double past first base to give the Mets a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
After the Mets added one in the third when Mark Canha hit a sacrifice fly, Nimmo blasted a solo home run to right-center field, his 15th of the year, to make it 4-0.
Nimmo sinled in the sixth inning, so he only needed a triple to complete the cycle, but he grounded out to first base in his final at-bat in the eighth.
Carlos Carrasco got the start for the Mets, and he sailed through the first four innings, but gave up a two-run homer to Riley Adams in the fifth before he exited. His final line was: 4 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.
Drew Smith came on to finish the fifth, and he worked around two singles before getting Luke Voit to hit into a double play to end the inning.
The Mets bullpen didn't allow a hit the rest of the way, as David Peterson then pitched a perfect sixth, Adam Ottavino worked around his own error as he dropped a toss from Pete Alonso after he fielded a C.J. Abrams grounder in the eighth to go 1 2/3 innings, and Edwin Diaz threw an inning and a third to earn his 32nd save of the season.
This win ended a Mets' three-game losing streak and since there were just two games left in the season after it, ensured they would go the entire season without losing more than three straight. It is just the second time that has happened in Mets history, with the first instance being 1972.
GAME 2: METS 8, NATIONALS 0
The Mets came out swinging, to say the least, in the nightcap.
Nimmo led off the game with a home run, the second time he did that this season, and the seventh in his career.
Francisco Lindor blasted one into the second deck in right field, and then Jeff McNeil did the same thing, making it the first time the Mets have opened a game with three home runs. (in the press box, McNeil hit his home run as it was being announced that Lindor's homer gave the Mets two homers to open a game for the fourth time, before the announcement pivoted to announcing the history with McNeil's blast).
The hit parade against Nationals starter Paolo Espino, who entered with a record of 0-8 with a 4.30 ERA, continued, as Alonso singled.
Daniel Vogelbach and Eduardo Escobar walked to load the bases, and Canha then got a sacrifice fly, and Luis Guillorme followed with an RBI double to make it 5-0, and that was all for Espino.
Reed Garrett came on for the Nats, and he struck out the Mets' number-nine hitter, James McCann, for the second out.
The lineup turned over, bringing Nimmo back up, and he laced a single to bring in two more and make it a first inning touchdown for the Mets, giving them a 7-0 lead. All seven runs were charged to Espino, who only went 1/3 of an inning, allowing five hits and two walks. Lindor grounded out to first to end the inning.
Taijuan Walker took that big lead and ran with it, cruising through the first four innings before he was lifted with one out in the fifth, once he hit 81 pitches and just after they found out, along with the 23,649 at Citi Field that Atlanta clinched.
Walker went 4 1/3 shutout innings, scattering just four hits and no walks, while striking out 10. It is only the fourth time in Major League history that a pitcher has thrown 4 1/3 or fewer innings and notched 10 strikeouts and no walks in a start. The only downshide was he didn't pitch long enough to earn the win, so he will finish the season with a record of 12-5 and a 3.49 ERA. (He lowered it by 0.10 in this outing).
The right-hander did record his 800th career strikeout after he got Josh Palacios looking to open the third inning. It was the third time this season he recorded 10 strikeouts, as he also did it on June 12 at the Angels and September 10 at the Marlins. It is the third time he has had three 10+K games in a season (also 2016 and '17).
Francisco Alvarez entered the game in the fifth inning to catch, and he homered in the sixth inning, a solo shot, for his first Major League hit. He is the 16th Met to do that, and the third time this season a Met homered for his first career hit, joining Brett Baty and Nick Plummer. He is the youngest player to hit a home run as a catcher since Ivan Rodriguez on July 6, 1992 when he was 20 years and 222 days old.
The win gives the Mets a record of 100-61, and this team joins an elite club in franchise history, as it is only the fourth time they have reached the 100-win plateau. This team has now tied the 1969 and 1988 teams, which each won 100 games, and the 1986 team stands alone with their 108 wins. Of course, the 1969 and '86 teams went on to win the World Series.
Mets Manager Buck Showalter earned his 1,651st career win in this one, passing Mike Scioscia for 19th on the managerial wins list.