MILWAUKEE — The Mets enjoyed themselves Monday night, some more loudly and champagne-soaked than others, because after they beat the Brewers, 7-2, they agreed: Even with lots more work ahead, clinching the organization’s first postseason appearance in six years was worth celebrating.
For Max Scherzer, who earned his 200th career win and tossed six perfect innings in his return from the injured list, it was the latest iteration of a September ritual. He is going to the playoffs for the ninth time in 12 years (with four teams).
For Jacob deGrom, Brandon Nimmo and Seth Lugo, it was a return to the promised land. They are the last holdovers from the Mets’ most recent postseason team, the 2016 club that lasted one game.
For the likes of Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Edwin Diaz, it was a fantasy becoming reality. They will play beyond the regular season for the first time.
And for everyone, it was an accomplishment worth acknowledging after 2,175 days, five changes at general manager, four at manager and one at owner.
“This is what you play the game for,” said Scherzer, who had been sidelined with left side irritation. “There’s a lot of ways for it not to work out. For us to be able to find our way into the postseason, that’s awesome, that’s what we celebrate. But we have a lot of things in front of us and we understand that. But man, you gotta celebrate the good times, too.”
Nimmo added: “It’s been some hard-fought years of either just straight losing or thinking we were going to make it and being disappointed in the end . . . [This occasion] just seems happy. A lot of these guys seem very overjoyed.”
And manager Buck Showalter: “Nobody should feel bad about feeling some elation tonight. It hit me with two outs in the ninth. I was going, wow, we’re an out away from being in there. I love to watch the guys feel what they deserve to feel.”
The Mets’ celebration wasn’t a full-blown cover-the-lockers-with-plastic, break-out-the-goggles affair. But they had their fun with a champagne toast (and a bit of champagne-spraying), postseason-branded T-shirts, loud music and general glee.
Team owner Steve Cohen, who flew in for the night, mingled with players. Scherzer, gifted a several-hundred-dollar bottle of Ace of Spades champagne by Francisco Lindor for his major milestone, poured some into the mouth of pinch running specialist Terrance Gore. DeGrom, Scherzer and the rest of the rotation gathered for a group photo, making sure to call over fill-in starters David Peterson and Trevor Williams. Alonso, among the wettest Mets, ended up with ketchup on the back of his neck and mustard on his sleeve.
“Very subdued, yes,” he said of the goings-on. “Very subtle.”
Their primary regular-season objective — winning the NL East title — remains doable but not guaranteed. Atlanta won on Monday, so the Mets’ division lead stayed at one game with 13 to play.
“This is the beginning,” said Cohen, in his second season since buying the team. “It’s a lot better than losing, right?”
General manager Billy Eppler: “You see the assortment of contributors. Everybody here matters. Everybody here contributes. That’s the elements of a strong team, and that’s what we’ve seen here.”
The game was representative of the way the Mets (94-55) have played all season: excellent starting pitching (from Scherzer), a well-rounded offensive effort (with every starter reaching base at least once) and effective enough bullpen work (including scoreless innings from Lugo and Adam Ottavino).
Scherzer had no problem exiting the perfect-game bid — he knew he had a pitch count and had no shot at finishing — but was glad his round-number personal accomplishment came on the same night as the group one. “We can actually celebrate what we do as a team more than any milestone I come up with,” he said.
The first Brewers batter to face anybody other than Scherzer, Christian Yelich, led off the bottom of the seventh with a clean double. That came against Tylor Megill, who allowed two runs in his relief debut and first outing since June.
So it goes. The Mets had more going on Monday — and beyond — than potential one-off perfection. It was Scherzer, Nimmo said, who enjoyed the aftermath most.
“Which is great,” Nimmo added. “He’s been there, done that, right? He still pitches and plays with such a passion, and it’s contagious to be around. You saw that tonight.”
And maybe just for the night.
“We realize there’s bigger moments to be had in the future,” Scherzer said. “It’s smiles today, grinding tomorrow.”