Mets beat Phillies to clinch NL top wild card

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Chuck Gorm­ley

Af­ter all the dis­heart­en­ing in­juries and try­ing skids this sum­mer, the New York Mets are right back in the play­offs.

With their ace on the mound at Citi Field.

New York clinched a post­sea­son spot Satur­day, beat­ing the Phillies 5-3 to se­cure the top Na­tional League wild card and set off a bub­bly cel­e­bra­tion that spilled from the vis­i­tors’ club­house onto the field in Philadel­phia.

The de­fend­ing NL cham­pi­ons will host San Fran­cisco or St. Louis on Wed­nes­day night, with the winner ad­vanc­ing to face the Chicago Cubs.

“We never gave up,” said third base­man Jose Reyes, back in the play­offs for the first time in 10 years. “We never doubted the tal­ent we had in here.”

The only other time the Mets made the post­sea­son in con­sec­u­tive years was 1999-2000. New York won the NL East last sea­son and went all the way to the World Se­ries be­fore los­ing to Kansas City.

This sea­son has pre­sented all sorts of new chal­lenges. The banged-up Mets (87-74) over­came a bevy of in­juries that de-

pleted their lineup and dec­i­mated a ter­rific young ro­ta­tion — with Matt Har­vey, Ja­cob deGrom and Steven Matz all side­lined by sea­son-end­ing ail­ments.

Two games un­der .500 on Aug. 19, the Mets have gone a ma­jor league-best 2712 dur­ing the last six weeks to vault over four teams in the NL wild-card race.

“This year was much tougher,” win­ning pitcher Bar­tolo Colon said through a trans­la­tor. “We had a lot of peo­ple in­jured and it was hard to get here to play just this one game we’re go­ing to play.”

James Loney hit a tworun homer to back the 43-year-old Colon (15-8), and Jeurys Fa­milia closed for his ma­jor league-high 51st save. T.J. Rivera, Jose Reyes and As­drubal Cabr­era each had an RBI sin­gle. By clinch­ing with one day to spare in the reg­u­lar sea­son, man­ager Terry Collins and the Mets can save All-Star Noah Syn­der­gaard for the wild-card game. The big right-han­der could still get a brief tuneup Sun­day against the Phillies, but should be fresh for Wed­nes­day.

“When you’re in, you’re ca­pa­ble of any­thing,” Collins said af­ter get­ting doused by his play­ers with beer and cham­pagne. “Any­thing can hap­pen. We’ve got our ace go­ing on Wed­nes­day. If he can spin one up and you get a cou­ple breaks, you never know.”

When left fielder Michael Con­forto made a slid­ing catch of Aaron Altherr’s soft liner for the fi­nal out, the ex­cited Mets streamed out of their dugout and gath­ered near the mound, bounc­ing in uni­son.

Back in the club­house, they wore gog­gles while spray­ing beer and cham­pagne,

then went onto the Cit­i­zens Bank Park field to cel­e­brate with thou­sands of Mets fans be­hind the vis­i­tors’ dugout. Sev­eral play­ers sprayed cham­pagne and sparkling cider into the crowd while a few oth­ers lit vic­tory cigars.

“We have a great fan base,” Loney said. “You can see their ex­cite­ment and their pas­sion, and we play off that.”

Colon al­lowed two runs and five hits in five in­nings.

Pa­trick Schus­ter (0-1) took the loss.

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