For the 2018 Mets, mercy came in the form of a line drive to rightfield.
Peter O’Brien shot Noah Syndergaard’s sinker to Michael Conforto, who made the routine catch. That marked the end of a 1-0 win over the Marlins, the end of Syndergaard’s first career shutout and the end of another losing season for the Mets.
Under first-year manager Mickey Callaway, the Mets went 77-85 and finished fourth in the NL East. After June, they went 45-37, best in the division.
Nobody with the Mets is happy with how the season went, but nobody with the Mets is sad that it’s over. Now it’s time for hopes to start slowly rising again.
“Everybody in that room, everybody in the front office, everybody on the coaching staff has to have the best offseason they’ve ever had for us to win a championship,” said Callaway, who held a postgame team meeting to share that message. “I think that’s going to be everybody’s goal this winter.”
Syndergaard, who dealt with a sinus infection most of the week, scattered five hits, struck out six and walked none, needing only 101 pitches to get through nine innings.
In 25 starts, he had a 3.03 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, numbers that belie the underwhelming tone surrounding his season.
“He pitched the way he’s capable of,” Callaway said. “He’s a tremendous talent, and when he goes out there and focuses on just getting outs — which I thought he did at the end [of the year] — he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
Syndergaard said of his season: “It was crazy going out there without my best stuff and trying to compete . . . I learned how to adjust and pitch.”
It didn’t match the emotion of David Wright’s farewell Saturday, but Jose Reyes had a similar moment Sunday. He started at shortstop and, per Callaway’s plan, had one at-bat, grounding out to second to lead off the bottom of the first. Reyes returned to the dugout to hugs from teammates. Before the second inning, he appeared on the video board, had his name chanted by the crowd and popped out of the dugout for a curtain call.
Reyes, a franchise icon who returned to the Mets in 2016, hit .189 this year. He is the club’s all-time leader in steals (408) and triples (113). Noting that he wants to play next season, he said he will have to see what the offseason brings. “I know today is my last game with this team,” he said. “I have to be honest.”
Notes & quotes: Todd Frazier’s double in the fourth drove in Jeff McNeil . . . Syndergaard tied for the major-league lead in complete games (two) and shutouts (one) . . . The Mets drew about 2.22 million fans to Citi Field in 2018, their lowest total since 2014.