With their first NL East title since 1988 finally clinched, the New York Mets can turn their attention to tuning up for the playoffs.
That task starts Tuesday, when one of the pitchers who will be crucial to the Mets’ hopes of advancing deep in the postseason, Tom Glavine, takes the mound against the Florida Marlins at Shea Stadium.
New York rebounded from a three-game weekend sweep at Pittsburgh with a 4-0 victory Monday night, securing its first division crown in 18 years and its first trip to the playoffs since 2000.
“If this is what playoff baseball in New York is like, to me it’s the best,” third baseman David Wright said before sticking a cigar in his mouth and high-fiving fans in the first row during the 90-minute postgame celebration.
New York (91-58) is all but certain to secure home-field advantage throughout the league playoffs, and after finally ending a division race that has been a foregone conclusion for some time, can take advantage by resting key players.
One of those is Glavine (13-6, 3.99 ERA), the 40-year-old left-hander who helped anchor the rotation throughout the season. He figures to see fewer innings in his final outings as the Mets look to keep him fresh for October.
The Mets clinching the East on Monday prevents Glavine from having to pitch well Tuesday against a team that has given him problems. The Marlins are one of two NL clubs against which he has a losing record.
The left-hander is 16-18 with a 3.83 ERA in 44 starts against Florida, including 1-0 with a 3.81 ERA in four outings this season. The win, a 7-4 victory May 27, ended a six-game losing streak to the Marlins and was Glavine’s first victory against them since April 2003.
The left-hander will be facing Florida for the second straight start, having thrown six innings and allowing four runs—three earned—in the Marlins’ 7-4 victory Wednesday.
The Mets have won 17 of their last 21 home games and three straight at home against the Marlins. After Monday’s emotional victory, however, it’s possible their focus might be more on the playoffs than Tuesday’s contest.
“It was a little bit frustrating because I wanted the guys to experience it right away,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said of the clinching being delayed over the weekend. “It’s that adrenaline that you get. It’s that real euphoric feeling you get knowing that you accomplished something. Having said that, I’ve been through this many times. We have a lot to do, man. We’ve just scratched the surface of how good this team can be.”
While the Mets can relax a little after becoming the first team to clinch a trip to the playoffs, Florida has a lot of work to do if it wants to join them in the postseason. The Marlins (74-76) suffered their third straight loss Monday, and trail the San Diego Padres by 4 1/2 games for the wild-card lead with 12 games to play.
“We need to win 11 or 12, probably,” said right-hander Brian Moehler, who took the loss Monday after pitching five innings of three-run ball. “Can we still do it? We have to show up and do it. Guys are still working hard, showing up early and working. No one is quitting. Guys are busting our butts. It just wasn’t our night tonight.”
Scott Olsen (12-8, 3.98) will try to get Florida back on track when he takes the mound Tuesday night.
The left-hander opposed Glavine on Wednesday and also didn’t earn a decision, throwing eight innings and giving up three runs. He’s 0-0 in three career starts—all this season—against the Mets, with a 4.74 ERA.