It's the slightest of hopes — mathematically negligible enough to basically be impossible. But the Mets on Tuesday night proved true to their word: They would fight until the very end, or for as long as the season and the standings would let them.
“Statistically, we’re not completely out of it yet,” Pete Alonso said before the game. “We just need to win. We’ve been in really tough spots before this year but kind of where we were, at our worst point, the way we’ve come back and the way we’ve come back to even have the opportunity to make a push into the playoffs, I think that’s remarkable . . . It just shows the character of this team.”
And Tuesday against the Marlins, with the Mets three outs from elimination, they showed it in all sorts of different ways. A ninth inning, game-tying homer by Michael Conforto, his second of the night. Loading the bases without a hit in the 11th, and then Brandon Nimmo — up to that point 0-for-5 with three strikeouts — doing what he does best: sprinting to first base on a walk.
Nimmo’s walk-off walk gave the Mets a 5-4 win over the Marlins, as they stayed alive in their very remote hope for the second National League wild-card spot. The Brewers beat the Reds, meaning that the Mets’ elimination number is just one with five games to play. Any combination of a Mets loss or a Brewers win will end their hopes. With their 82nd win, though, the Mets clinched their first winning season since 2016 — this, after being 11 games under .500 a day after the All-Star break.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Conforto, who went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. “I think we’re frustrated we’re not in a better position . . . We’ve shown some improvement [from last year]. We’re looking to next year, if we don’t make it this year. It’s a good experience.”
Meanwhile, the bullpen did its job with six scoreless innings after Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings. Six relievers combined to allow just one hit — an anomaly for a unit that’s attracted so much ire this season.
Paul Sewald (1-1) pitched a scoreless 11th with two strikeouts to get the victory. Entering the night, Sewald had appeared in a major league record 118 games without a win. That was 38 more than any other pitcher in history. He also had thrown a record 139 innings without a win.
“It’s a meaningless statistic for a reliever but it’s a relief to have just one,” joked Sewald.
But that’s just how this game works out sometimes. For so long, the Mets themselves seemed buried by their own numbers, something Conforto brought up. In June, the season seemed mostly dead. Now, after Game 157, they’re still alive.
“We’re going to play to win no matter what our playoff chances are,” he said. Even if it ends up meaning nothing, which is likely, it can at least serve as a dress rehearsal for next season.
Conforto led the charge as the Mets trailed 4-0 in the seventh. J.D. Davis doubled and Conforto homered to cut the deficit in half. Then, in the ninth, three outs until elimination, Davis legged out an infield single. After that, Conforto went for the encore: blasting a 97-mph two-seamer to centerfield for the game-tying home run, his 33rd.
“This guy, he gets one good swing and he can be the best hitter in the league,” Callaway said of Conforto, who certainly has gotten into those types of grooves before. “[It was] good timing. We needed it tonight.”
And because of that, they get a tomorrow.