Even with records hovering around .500, the New York Mets and Washington Nationals remain in the NL wild-card hunt. Their recent poor play, however, suggests they may not be in contention much longer.
The Mets snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, pulling them within 5 1/2 games of Houston for the wild card.
New York won for only the third time in 15 games and completed a 2-8 road trip through Florida, Atlanta and St. Louis, a stretch that dealt a big blow to its wild-card hopes.
“There’s no reason obsessing about it now,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “It’s over, done with, and you can move on, but obviously it was nowhere near what we were expecting to do.”
Piazza (concussion) and Floyd (hamstring) did not play Sunday, but both are expected to be in the lineup Tuesday.
Piazza was hit in the front of his helmet by a pitch from Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez the previous night. Piazza had been scheduled for a day off anyway after being activated from the 15-day disabled list for a broken left hand Saturday. Floyd, meanwhile, left Saturday’s game with a tight hamstring.
Washington suffered a heartbreaking 9-7 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Sunday that left them four games behind Houston. Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones hit consecutive homers off Nationals All-Star closer Chad Cordero with two outs in the ninth inning, sending the Nats to their second straight defeat and fifth in six games.
“There’s still hope. We are not mathematically eliminated,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “We’ll keep battling until somebody tells us that we’re out of it.”
Robinson made lineup changes Sunday with hopes of sparking his team. He benched third baseman Vinny Castilla, center fielder Preston Wilson and second baseman Deivi Cruz in favor of Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Church and Rick Short, respectively.
Zimmerman, Church and Short combined to go 3-for-10 with three RBIs.