Jeurys Familia set down the Reds in the ninth inning on Saturday at Great American Ball Park, striking out Jay Bruce as the Mets clinched the NL East. In doing so, the Mets’ ticket to the post-season is punched for the first time since 2006.
Familia’s ninth inning was stress-free, as he entered with a 10-2 lead. He got two quick outs, but allowed a single to left field to Joey Votto, and Brandon Phillips followed up with an infield single. A throwing error on the play by David Wright allowed Votto to move to third base. But Familia bounced back to whiff Bruce.
Watch the final out and the Mets’ ensuing celebration:
The first-place Mets and second-place Yankees did battle against each other in Queens on Friday night in the opener of the “Subway Series”. Both teams are vying for a return to post-season glory, with the Mets coming into the night leading the NL East over the Nationals by eight games and the Yankees trailing the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East by 3.5 games.
The Mets continued to show they belong, taking a 5-1 victory. Starter Steven Matz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka, pitching six innings of one run ball. He scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Tanaka allowed two runs in six frames, giving up five hits in total with four strikeouts and no walks.
Both of the Mets’ runs against Tanaka came on solo home runs. Lucas Duda hit a line drive off of the facing of the second deck in the second inning, and Daniel Murphy broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with a no-doubt solo shot to right-center. Juan Uribe would tack on a two-run home run to the opposite field in the seventh off of reliever Chasen Shreve, and Eric Young, Jr. scored on a James Pazos wild pitch in the eighth. Closer Jeurys Familia got into some trouble in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but he bounced back to get Brett Gardner to fly out and Chase Headley to strike out.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, one of the best hitters in baseball since joining the Mets at the trade deadline, went 0-for-4. He’s been held hitless in each of his last three games.
Meanwhile, the Nationals’ bullpen couldn’t get the job done again. They brought a 4-3 lead over the Marlins into the ninth inning but closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff double which eventually led to the Marlins scoring the tying run. The game is 4-4 in the 10th inning as of this writing. As for the Yankee-relevant part of the scoreboard, the Blue Jays topped the Red Sox 6-1 to stretch their lead in the division to 4.5 games.
Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Michael Pineda of the Yankees will take the hill on Saturday afternoon as the Subway Series continues.
UPDATE: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that Padres left-hander Marc Rzepczynski is the reliever who was claimed off revocable waivers by the Mets. It’s unclear how long the two sides have to complete a deal.
Rzepczynski was just acquired from the Indians last month. The 29-year-old owns a mediocre 4.88 ERA in 60 appearances this season, but he has 33 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings and the highest ground ball rate of his career. With his history of keeping left-handed batters in check, you can see why the Mets would consider taking a chance on him. He’s making $2.4 million this season and will be arbitration-eligible for the fourth and final time this winter.
3:10 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the Mets have put in a waiver claim on a reliever. The team with the reliever can either let him go to the Mets, negotiate a trade, or pull him back off waivers.
2:59 p.m. ET: MLB’s waiver trade deadline is coming up on Tuesday and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the first-place Mets are “making progress” on acquiring a reliever.
While it’s no sure thing that a deal will ultimately come together, Rubin hears that the Mets are having “tangible talks.” The team has already added Tyler Clippard and Eric O’Flaherty in separate deals with the Athletics over the past month. While Clippard has settled in as the primary set-up man for closer Jeurys Familia, O’Flaherty has allowed 10 runs on 13 hits and one walk over six innings with his new club. The Mets have gotten next to nothing out of the likes of Jenrry Mejia, Jerry Blevins, Bobby Parnell, and Vic Black this season, so the bridge to the late innings is a bit shaky at the moment.
Acquiring a left-handed specialist would be ideal, but it will be interesting to see if a quality arm makes it to them through waivers. There’s incentive for other teams to put in a claim first, either out of legitimate need or to block.