Carlos Delgado hit a game-tying, three-run homer in the eighth inning and Cliff Floyd drove in the go-ahead run with a double as the Mets (89-55) rallied past the Marlins 6-4 on Tuesday, trimming their magic number to three.
The victory gave the Mets the chance to clinch their fifth division crown Wednesday, as a New York victory over Florida and an Atlanta Braves sweep of their doubleheader with Philadelphia would officially end a race that’s essentially been over for months.
“It will be exciting when it happens,” Delgado said. “It’s been a great year and we’re all looking forward to that moment.”
New York is 16 1/2 games ahead of Philadelphia and Florida, the largest division lead in baseball.
Rooting for the Braves will be ironic for the Mets, who have seen Atlanta win a record 14 straight division titles—the last 11 of which came in the NL East. New York ended that run with its win Tuesday, and will now be hoping for a pair of Braves victories Wednesday.
The Mets last won the division in 1988. They have since made the postseason twice as the wild card in 1999 and 2000.
“We’re inching closer to the playoffs,” Floyd said. “It’s been a long time for this organization. Everybody is excited about getting to the postseason.”
Wednesday’s starter Tom Glavine (13-6, 3.98 ERA) will be looking to reach his highest win total in a season since 2002, when he had 18 victories in his final season with Atlanta. He’s won 13 games in each of the past two years.
The 40-year-old left-hander scattered five hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-0 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday to win for only the second time in 12 starts.
Glavine may have a difficult time winning consecutive starts for the first time since June 18 and 23, as he’s defeated the Marlins once in his last 12 outings against them.
The lone win, though, came May 27, when he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings of a 7-4 victory at Dolphin Stadium. Glavine is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts against Florida this season.
Florida (73-72) is hoping to delay New York’s celebration and close the gap on wild card-leading San Diego. The Marlins are two games back and in third place in that race.
Florida sends Scott Olsen (12-8, 4.01) to the mound as it continues its unlikely pursuit of a postseason berth.
Olsen pitched well in his last outing Friday, limiting the Phillies to three runs and striking out seven in 7 2-3 innings, but suffering a 3-2 loss. All three runs came on a pair of homers by Ryan Howard.
The 22-year-old left-hander had won three straight starts. He has a 1.88 ERA in his last four outings.
“It goes down as a quality start, but we still lost, so it doesn’t matter,” Olsen said. “The first home run he hit was just a 2-0 fastball. If I get ahead in the count, I’m not going to throw a fastball right there.”
Olsen surpassed Dontrelle Willis to set a franchise rookie record with 147 strikeouts on the season. Willis had 142 in 2003.
Olsen is 0-0 with a 5.73 ERA in two career starts against the Mets, both coming this season. He gave up four runs in six innings with 10 strikeouts and four walks in a 6-5 victory Aug. 1, his last start against them.
The Mets are 4-11 in their last 15 games against left-handed starters.