Mets down Phils to earn wild-card berth

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Chuck Gorm­ley

Af­ter all the dis­heart­en­ing in­juries and try­ing skids this sum­mer, the New York Mets are right back in the play­offs, clinch­ing a berth with a 5-3 win over the Phillies on Satur­day.

PHILADEL­PHIA >> 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 bangedup Mets (87-74) over­came a bevy of in­juries that de­pleted 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 27-12 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.”

Collins thinks play­ing at home Wed­nes­day could be a huge ad­van­tage.

“Say what you want about (Mets fans),” he said. “They’re en­er­getic and en­thu­si­as­tic and they want to win. There’s no sec­ond place in New York City.”

Ryan Howard hit a tworun homer in what was likely his penul­ti­mate game with the Phillies.

Philadel­phia’s de­feat was its sixth straight over­all and 91st of the sea­son. It is the club’s sec­ond straight sea­son with more than 90 losses.

Howard, ex­pected to re­ceive a $10 mil­lion buy­out from the Phillies af­ter the sea­son, brought fans out of their seats with a ty­ing shot in the fifth in­ning. He turned on a 1-0 fast­ball from Colon, driv­ing his 25th homer of the year into the right-field seats.

At the urg­ing of fans, Howard stepped to the top of the dugout steps and raised his right hand in ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

“The cur­tain call was awe­some,” he said. “It was good to be able to do it and tie the game.”

The Mets re­gained the lead in the next in­ning when Loney drove a 3-1 pitch from re­liever David Her­nan­dez into the right­field seats.

Loney im­me­di­ately turned to the Mets’ dugout and raised both arms in tri­umph be­fore flip­ping his bat and round­ing the bases. He was mobbed by team­mates when he re­turned to the bench.

“My emo­tions just took over,” Loney said. “I was in the mo­ment. You know how big the game is. This is what you play for.”

The Phillies drew within one when Darin Ruf hit a pinch-hit homer in the sev­enth, but Ad­di­son Reed and Fa­milia closed it out with score­less re­lief.

Colon al­lowed two runs and five hits in five in­nings.

Pa­trick Schus­ter (0-1) took the loss.

Cur­tis Gran­der­son had three hits and scored twice for New York. He is 12 for 23 in his last six games.

Tale of Two Bullpens

New York’s bullpen had its score­less streak snapped at 23 2/3 in­nings when Fer­nando Salas al­lowed Ruf’s homer. Con­versely, the Phillies’ re­liev­ers have given up 62 earned runs in their last 14 games (58 1/3 in­nings).

Howard’s Legacy

Howard’s home run was his 382nd for the Phillies and tied him with Jim Rice and Frank Howard for 67th place on base­ball’s ca­reer list.

Trainer’s Room

Phillies short­stop Freddy Galvis, who left Fri­day night’s game in the sev­enth in­ning with tight­ness in his left ham­string, did not play. He was re­placed in the lineup by An­dres Blanco.

Up Next

The reg­u­lar sea­son ends Sun­day, with Syn­der­gaard (14-9, 2.60 ERA) sched­uled to face Phillies RHP Jerad Eick­hoff (11-14, 3.72).

LAURENCE KESTERSON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

New York Mets short­stop As­drubal Cabr­era, right, em­braces as­sis­tant hit­ting coach Pat Roessler af­ter they de­feated the Philadel­phia Phillies on Satur­day to clinch a wild card spot.

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