The party barely got started, and now it’s over.
One-hundred-and-one victories didn’t get the Mets a National League East title. As it turned out, nor did it grant them immunity from an early exit to the postseason.
The cracks in the Mets that seemed most pronounced in the final weeks of the regular season conspired Sunday night, ending the team’s season with a 6-0 loss to the Padres in Game 3 of their NL wild-card series before a non-sellout of 39,241 at Citi Field.
Joe Musgrove manhandled the Mets over seven shutout innings, amid controversy. Before the bottom of the sixth, Buck Showalter asked umpires to check Musgrove for illegal substances; he appeared to have grease behind his ear. Musgrove’s cap and glove were checked, in addition to behind his ear, but he was allowed to continue. Angry, Musgrove wiped his nose in the direction of the Mets dugout after striking out Tomas Nido and flicked his left ear after retiring Brandon Nimmo for the final out in the sixth. Musgrove was serenaded with “cheater” chants by the crowd.
The Mets managed all of one hit and two base runners in the defeat. The franchise’s World Series title drought will extend to 36 seasons.
If Max Scherzer’s putrid performance in Game 1, in which he allowed seven earned runs, wasn’t enough, the Mets got a clunker to close the season from Chris Bassitt, who had control problems. He was removed after allowing three earned runs on three hits and three walks over three innings. It was a second straight dud for the right-hander, who failed to complete three innings in Atlanta during the series finale that all but gave the Braves the NL East title.
A potential free agent after the season, Bassitt may not have helped his standing with the fan base following comments he made Saturday when asked about the differences between pitching in Oakland and New York.
“I’ve learned, especially this year, where there’s sometimes negativity and stuff like that throughout … we lose two or three games and, ‘Holy crap, the world is burning down,'” Bassitt said.
After loading the bases with two outs in the second on walks to Ha-Seong Kim and Trent Grisham after Josh Bell had singled leading off the inning, Bassitt surrendered a two-run single to No. 9 hitter Austin Nola on an 0-2 pitch.
Kim walked with two outs in the fourth and stole second before Grisham, who homered in Games 1 and 2, delivered an RBI single that put the Mets in a 3-0 hole.
Manny Machado brought in another run with a single in the fifth against David Peterson after Jurickson Profar singled leading off the inning and went to second on Juan Soto’s sacrifice bunt.
Musgrove didn’t allow a base runner until Pete Alonso singled to lead off the fifth. But the right-hander got rolling again and didn’t allow another base runner until Starling Marte walked in the seventh. Musgrove finished with a one-hitter over seven shutout innings.
Soto poked a single in the eighth against Edwin Diaz for two additional runs, both charged to Mychal Givens.
The Mets scrapped for seven runs in their victory Saturday but were a mess offensively in the series’ other two games. Yu Darvish was the force behind Friday’s frustration.
The Mets held a small celebration in Milwaukee last month after clinching the postseason berth because, as Scherzer put it, there was a scenario in which they otherwise wouldn’t get to celebrate. Losing the division and wild-card round was that scenario. Now, that has come to fruition.
A long offseason awaits the Mets, who face decisions on Diaz, Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco and likely ace Jacob deGrom, who has indicated he plans to opt out of his contract. Taijuan Walker has a player option for next season but can choose free agency. The Mets have indicated to another free agent, Nimmo, that they would like to extend the relationship beyond this year. Seth Lugo and Adam Ottavino are other key members of the bullpen headed to free agency.