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Mets suffer crushing loss to lowly Marlins, putting long shot wild-card hopes on brink

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz reacts on the

Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz reacts on the mound after Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro connected for a grand slam during the sixth inning at Citi Field on Monday. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The lights are all but out at Citi Field.

It happened on Monday in big ways and small as the Mets took on the Marlins. Jorge Alfaro hit two home runs. The out-of-town scoreboard showed the Nationals beating the Phillies. And then there was that play in the seventh, where a misplay by Brad Brach took the wind out of the Mets and allowed another two runs to score.

It offered plenty of chances for the Mets to ask, ‘if only,’ but the truth is that there’s been a lot of that this season. And none of it eclipses what actually did happen: The Mets lost to the Marlins, 8-4, to all but doom their postseason chances. It wasn’t so much as a last grasp at the second National League wild card, but the last gasp of a team with no choice but to ride out the season.

The Mets elimination number is two, courtesy of the worst team in the National League. This, after they switched Steven Matz’s pitching days, because going into Monday, Matz had a 1.94 ERA at home (he had a 4.16 ERA overall).

And though Matz allowed most of the damage — six runs and nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts in five-plus innings — Mickey Callaway and company also pointed to another blow, this one in the seventh.

Amed Rosario had just hit a grand slam in the bottom of the sixth, taking a defibrillator to his team’s playoff hopes. With the Mets trailing 6-4, though, Walker Lockett put two men on, and Brach intentionally walked Alfaro to load the bases with two outs. Harold Ramirez hit a slow roller to first, which was fielded by Pete Alonso, who threw to Brach, who was slow to get to first. Ramirez was called out, but a challenge reversed the call and two runs scored, since the trailing run, Jon Berti, was already halfway between third and home when Ramirez landed at first. Brach didn’t throw home to get Berti, he said, because of the out call at first.

“It’s unfortunate,” Brach said. “Especially when we need every game. I’ve just gotta get the out there.”

The Mets have six games left in the season and are five games out of the final wild-card spot. The Nationals, who hold the first wild-card spot, beat the Phillies and the Brewers were off, meaning the Mets will have to win each of the rest of their games to even have a prayer. Even then, the Brewers would have to go 1-5, and the Cubs and Nationals would also have to falter. That’s a lot of what ifs, not many of them particularly likely.

“Our backs are against the wall,” Callaway said. “I think this team has performed pretty well when its backs are against the wall, so we need to step it up. We need to make another run at it. Never give up. I think that’s all this team knows how to do.”

Not Monday, though. With the Marlins leading 2-0 in the sixth, Alfaro ,who hit a solo homer in the second, came up with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam into the mostly-empty bleachers often occupied by the 7-Line Army. On the mound, Matz crouched and held his head for longer than it took the ball to leave the stadium.

Rosario, though, brought some spark with him in the bottom of that inning when, with the bases loaded and two outs, he ripped Caleb Smith’s 85-mph slider to the stands in left-center to bring the Mets to within 6-4. It also had the Mets believing in a comeback, Callaway said.

“Nothing is impossible,” Rosario said.

No, but it’s extremely unlikely. No ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ about it.

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