NEW YORK — After wrapping up a 101-win season with an easy fight, the New York Mets know their next challenge will be much tougher.
Francois Lindor and the Mets prepared for the playoffs with a 9-2 rout of the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, capping a fantastic regular season with the second-most wins in franchise history.
“Friday is going to be kind of a different beast. It’s going to be loud, it’s going to rock. Jeff McNeil said. “We have to be ready to play. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to be there.
New York went 2-4 this year against the Padres, who won two of three at Citi Field in July.
“We’re gaining momentum this weekend”, winning pitcher Trevor Williams said.
McNeil won the major league batting crown without taking a swing, and New York (101-61) finished with the same record as the Atlanta Braves at the top of the NL East. The defending World Series champions clinched the division title on Tuesday because they held the tiebreaker of the season after going 10-9 against the Mets.
The only Mets team to win more regular season games was the 1986 World Series champions at 108-54.
“He’s been a rock,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Marc Canha threw a three-run homer in the first, and collapsing James McCann had three hits, including a three-point circuit in the third, as the Mets completed a three-game sweep before heading to the playoffs.
“Now is the best time of the year,” Lindor said. “I want to give them a lot to cheer about.”
Even fast Terrance Gore had fun with a single for his first major league hit since July 4, 2019 with Kansas City. He’s won two World Series rings since then as a luxury runner with the Dodgers and Braves.
Williams (3-5) came on as relief to start the second and allowed two runs in six solid innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
After the first pitch was delayed nearly two hours by rain, Washington’s starter Eric Fedde (6-13) allowed nine hits and nine runs, a career high, in 2 1/3 innings.
“It felt like it happened pretty quickly,” Fedde said. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t execute a little better in the pitches and got a few outs, and especially ate a few innings today after a long day yesterday. Not much went well today.
It was a fitting finish for the rebuilding Nationals, which had the worst record in the majors at 55-107 and will earn the top pick in the amateur draft next year. They were 65-97 last season.
“Our season is over right now, for the players. But the work has just begun for me (general manager Mike Rizzo) and the front office,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We have a lot of work to do. I can’t wait to get to this winter, get things done, and then get ready for spring training.
FOR THE CROWN
Nurturing a four-point lead in the big league batting race, McNeil was not in the starting lineup. He came on defense in the eighth but didn’t come to the plate and finished with a .326 average which was the highest of the majors – one point ahead of Freddie Freeman after the Los Angeles Dodgers star went 3 for 4.
“It just means a lot,” McNeil said. “It’s always better to do it in a good team.”
Metals: RHP Mychal Givens was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list and made his first major league start after 418 relief appearances. Givens pitched a scoreless first inning and is under consideration for the playoff roster, Showalter said. … HPR Tylor Megill was placed on the IL without an injury designation, an indication that the issue could be related to COVID-19. … All-Star RF Starling Marte (broken right middle finger) took fungos in the outfield but still can’t throw or swing comfortably. It doesn’t look promising that he’s ready for the Padres series.
National Championships: Plays its first spring training game next year on Feb. 25 against St. Louis and opens the regular season at home on March 30 against Atlanta.