New York was eliminated from the NL wild-card race when Milwaukee secured the league's final postseason berth by completing a 9-2 victory in Cincinnati as the Mets (83-75) batted in the eighth. With four games remaining, they are five behind the streaking Brewers (88-70), who were already ahead 6-1 by the time New York took the field.
"It's tough, but I thought we played pretty good baseball down the stretch to stay in it," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "Obviously, Milwaukee was just off the charts and nobody was catching them."
After falling to 40-51 on July 12, the Mets made a surprising surge in the second half and are eight games over .500 for the first time all season. But their pennant hopes were finally dashed for good — and it was a particularly painful night for All-Star Jeff McNeil, who had two early RBIs before breaking his right hand when it was hit by a pitch.
"I guess now the fat lady's singing," Alonso said. "It's unfortunate, but we came back so awesome and the way we went about our business is spectacular. So it's bittersweet, if I had to put it shortly.
"When we finally put it together for a full 162, it's going to be scary." There wasn't much reaction in a mild Citi Field crowd of 21,471 when the Milwaukee final went up on the out-of-town scoreboard. Many fans filed for the exits after Alonso walked in the eighth, and a handful chanted "Thank you, Mets" following the final out.
"To have it be absolute, it's frustrating," said Michael Conforto, who had three hits. "We didn't do enough to get ourselves into the right position. "We're definitely not satisfied with where we're at," he added. "We need to put the full six months together."
Callaway addressed his team in the clubhouse after the game. "People were clapping because they were proud of never giving up and there's something to be said about that," he explained. "We just kept on forging ahead."
Alonso hit a three-run shot off Robert Dugger (0-4) to make it 7-0 in the second, keeping the slugger two homers ahead of Cincinnati's Eugenio Suárez — who also connected Wednesday night — for most in the majors. No rookie since 1900 has led the big leagues outright in home runs.
Alonso needs one to match the rookie mark set by Aaron Judge for the New York Yankees two years ago. "It feels like a fantasy," Alonso said. In his final scheduled start of the season, deGrom (11-8) got some rare extensive run support and allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings. He walked one and struck out seven to increase his NL-leading total to 255.
"Kind of a weird night," deGrom said. "I'm happy with how I kind of ended my season, but not happy with where we're at. ... So it's a tough night, a tough pill to swallow, but I think we proved that we can win baseball games."
The right-hander permitted one run over his final four starts and finished the year with 23 consecutive scoreless innings — going exactly seven in each of his last eight outings and 12 of 13 to surpass 200 innings for the third straight season. He lowered his ERA to 2.43, just behind Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.41) for best in the majors.
"He's one of the fiercest competitors I've seen," Conforto said. After capturing his first NL Cy Young Award with just 10 wins last year, deGrom appears poised to make it two in a row. "That would mean a lot. It'd be a huge honor," he said. "I guess you do kind of set personal goals, but tonight we fell short of a team goal. So it's kind of mixed emotions and nobody in here is real happy that we're eliminated."
CAMPAIGN MANAGER Callaway, for one, thinks deGrom has the Cy Young race wrapped up. "I've looked at the numbers; I don't see how it can go any other way," he said. "Man, was he good again. It's unbelievable."
FAMILY TIES With his father in the stands, Tyler Heineman got his first major league hit with a pinch-hit double off deGrom and stood beaming at second base as the souvenir ball was tossed into Miami's dugout for safe keeping.
"When I hit first base, my legs got a little Jell-O-ey. So I was like, oh man, I might fall," Heineman said. "It was an experience that I'll never forget, that's for sure." A similar ritual didn't go so smoothly for younger brother Scott, who hit his first career home run with Texas early this month — also in New York. It took a plea from Yankees public address announcer Paul Olden and an exchange with a father and son in attendance to get the right ball back to Scott Heineman after a different one was thrown onto the field.
TRAINER'S ROOM Mets: McNeil exited after getting plunked by an 89 mph fastball from Josh Smith in the sixth. X-rays revealed a fracture that ends his season. ... LF Dominic Smith (left foot stress fracture) worked out on the field and was eligible to come off the 60-day injured list. Callaway said the team wants to see how Smith feels Thursday before deciding whether to activate him with just a few games remaining.
UP NEXT Marlins: Rookie right-hander Jordan Yamamoto (4-5, 4.83 ERA) pitches the series finale Thursday night, his second outing since returning from a forearm strain. He is 0-5 with a 7.68 ERA since going 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his first six career starts.
Mets: RHP Zack Wheeler (11-7, 3.99 ERA) makes perhaps his final start for New York — the 29-year-old can become a free agent after the season. "Everybody wants this guy, I'm sure," Callaway said. "So we'll see what happens."
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