The Mets started with those seated in centerfield. They streamed out of their dugout and followed the lead of manager Terry Collins, who remembered all the times he had pleaded for patience.

Then they worked their way around Citi Field, saluting the fans who have stuck through all the pain that preceded the euphoria.

"You guys really are the best in the game. Thank you very much," captain David Wright said after taking a microphone to address fans following a 1-0 victory over the Nationals. "And let's go beat L.A."

All around baseball Sunday, teams bid farewell, the first step in beginning the long, frigid wait until the first hope of spring. For eight straight years, the Mets had been among those vowing there were brighter days ahead.

But this year, the NL East champions reached a threshold that a season ago drew ridicule when it was proposed by general manager Sandy Alderson. The Mets concluded their regular season with their 90th win, reaching that plateau for only the 11th time in franchise history.

"Round number with some cachet," Alderson told Newsday in an email. "Glad we got there!"

advertisement | advertise on newsday

That the prediction came a year late mattered little. "Sandy just misspoke," Wright said with a smile. "He meant 2015."

Jacob deGrom looked ready for the Mets' first postseason appearance since 2006, striking out seven in four no-hit innings against the Nationals. It was his final tuneup before starting Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday against the Dodgers.

"We've had a lot of fun this year," deGrom said. "But we know there's some work to do."

Curtis Granderson, perhaps the steadiest bat in the Mets' lineup, hammered his 26th homer, an eighth-inning blast to centerfield off Blake Treinen.

Jeurys Familia threw a scoreless ninth to nail down his 43rd save, equaling the club record set by Armando Benitez in 2001.

Mets videos

One day after Max Scherzer made history with his second no-hitter of the season, the Mets carried a combined no-no into the seventh, when Clint Robinson pinballed a single off shortstop Ruben Tejada.

The Mets' offense, a juggernaut for much of the second half, has been held to two runs in their last 43 innings.

The Mets needed a win just to snap a five-game losing streak. But none of that dulled the celebration, the Mets' first chance to share in the turnaround with their fans.

For the 12th time at Citi Field, a crowd of at least 40,000 turned out, this time on a cool day for a game that carried little meaning other than reaching a round number.

"Ninety wins is a big step, a huge step from where we've been and all the things we went through," said Collins, who wrapped up his first winning season in five years with the team.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The Mets want more, of course. But first they took a moment to savor the accomplishment. Collins led the way, darting out to centerfield to doff his cap. "I sat here last October and told our fan base that their patience is going to be rewarded, that it's time for us to win," he said. "So I just wanted to go applaud them for all their support."

Wright, the only Mets player left from the 2006 playoff run, noted the long walk to the outfield. He surveyed the faces in the crowd. As he had done when the Mets clinched the NL East title in Cincinnati, he wanted to form what he called "lasting memories."

"Very early on this year, they understood that we had something special," he said. "A lot of us felt it was necessary to salute the fans for coming out the way they did and just making this a memorable season."