|Marlins look to finish off Mets' playoff hopes|
The New York Mets have experienced no shortage of miracles during their 58-season existence. But if they're going to win a wild-card spot this year, they will need some divine intervention that far surpasses anything bestowed upon the 1969, 1973 or 1986 teams.
The Mets will try to do their part to avoid elimination from contention Tuesday night, when they host the Miami Marlins in the second game of a four-game series.
Noah Syndergaard (10-8, 4.22 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mets against the Marlins' Sandy Alcantara (5-14, 4.00 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.
The Marlins delivered a big blow to the Mets' already meager wild-card hopes Monday night, when Jorge Alfaro hit two homers, including a grand slam, in Miami's 8-4 victory.
The Mets (81-75) fell five games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the race for the National League's second wild card and 5 1/2 games back of the first wild-card spot, currently held by the Washington Nationals. New York has six games left in the regular season.
Elimination for the Mets could come as early as Tuesday if they lose, the Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds and the Nationals earn at least a split of a doubleheader with the Philadelphia Phillies.
In other words, if the Mets make it to the NL wild-card game next week, it will be the most stunning accomplishment in team history.
That would be no small feat, considering that: the team won the 1969 World Series after posting losing records of each of its seven previous seasons of existence; the 1973 squad went from last place in late August to the seventh game of the World Series; and the 1986 club was one strike away from elimination 16 times in Game 6 of the World Series before beating the Boston Red Sox in seven games.
"Our backs are against the wall," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "I think this team has performed pretty well when their backs are against the wall. So we need to step it up, we need to make another run at it."
The rebuilding Marlins (55-101) are hoping to gain valuable experience while opposing contenders in the final days of the season. Seven of Miami's starters on Monday night began the season with two or fewer years of service major league time.
"It's good for us to end the year -- we play the Nationals, these guys and the Phillies, so you're playing teams, at least, that are in the hunt and need to win games, no matter what the situation is," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "So we talk about just making sure we're playing hard and doing our part."
Syndergaard didn't factor into the decision in his most recent start, when he allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings as the Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 7-4 in Denver on Wednedsay.
Alcantara took a loss that same day, when he gave up five runs (four earned) over 5 2/3 innings as the Marlins fell to the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4.
Syndergaard is 7-1 with a 1.83 ERA in 10 career starts against the Marlins, including 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts this year. Alcantara is 2-3 with a 2.82 ERA in seven starts against the Mets, including 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four outings this year.
Both pitchers have recorded shutouts against the Tuesday opponent. Syndergaard tossed his five-hitter in a 1-0 win last Sept. 30, while Alcantara dominated with a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory May 19.
--Field Level Media