A win to start the final series of the season allowed the New York Mets to continue pondering the possibilities of mounting a last-second playoff push. A loss that all but locked up last place for the Washington Nationals moved manager Dave Martinez to remind everyone what they were able to do the last time Major League Baseball played a full season.
The Mets will look to maintain their playoff hopes for at least one more day Friday, when they face the Nationals in the second game of a four-game series between the NL East rivals.
Rick Porcello (1-6, 5.46 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for New York against Max Scherzer (4-4, 3.67 ERA) in a battle of right-handers, former teammates and former Cy Young Award winners.
David Peterson tossed a career-high seven innings Thursday and Robinson Chirinos collected all three of the Mets' RBIs -- via a two-run homer and an infield single -- as New York beat the Nationals, 3-2.
The win improved Peterson to 6-2 and ensured he would lead the Mets in victories as a rookie. But he held out hope afterward that he wasn't done pitching in 2020.
"Hopefully it's not over," Peterson said. "Hopefully we can finish strong and see what happens."
Even with the victory, the Mets (26-31) need a lot of help to reach the playoffs as either the second-place finisher in the NL East or a wild card. New York enters Friday three games behind the second-place Miami Marlins in the division (as well as two games behind the third-place Philadelphia Phillies) and 2 1/2 games behind the second wild card, the San Francisco Giants.
Three more wins won't guarantee a playoff spot, but one more victory by the Mets will ensure the Nationals (23-34) finish alone in last place one season after winning the World Series. Only one other reigning World Series champion this century -- the 2013 Boston Red Sox -- has finished last in its division.
Of course, this is a season unlike any other, and the Nationals have a track record of recovering from slow starts. Washington had the same record through 50 games this season (19-31) as last season.
"We did win the World Series in 2019," Martinez said Thursday. "That means a lot. That doesn't go away. Let's come back in 2021 and do it again."
Porcello took the loss in his most recent start Sunday, when he gave up one run over seven innings as the Mets fell to the Braves, 7-0. Scherzer also took a hard-luck defeat Sunday, when he gave up two runs, both unearned, over 5 2/3 innings in the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Marlins.
Porcello is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals. Scherzer is 11-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) against the Mets, whom he no-hit on Oct. 3, 2015.
This marks the third meeting of the season between Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner, and Scherzer, who won the AL Cy Young while pitching with Porcello on the Detroit Tigers in 2013 and again in the NL in 2016 and 2017.
It is also the fifth time Porcello is facing a fellow former Cy Young Award winner. He opposed the Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL winner, on Sept. 4 and Sept. 15.
--Field Level Media