Michael Conforto acknowledged Friday afternoon that the New York Mets needed assistance to reach the postseason.
It took nine hours, but the Mets received a tiny bit of help that has them mathematically live. It came from Trent Grisham and the San Diego Padres.
The Mets will possess the faintest of postseason aspirations Saturday afternoon, when they face the host Washington Nationals in a doubleheader necessitated by a rainout Friday night.
The Nationals will start Max Scherzer (4-4, 3.67 ERA) in the opener and Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 6.80 ERA) in the nightcap.
The Mets have not announced the order of their pitchers, but they are likely to go with the pitchers who were slotted to start Friday and Saturday -- Rick Porcello (1-6, 5.46 ERA) and Jacob deGrom (4-2, 2.14 ERA).
The Mets, who won Thursday's series opener 3-2, stayed in contention at the last second when, late Friday night, Grisham hit a walk-off three-run homer to lift the Padres past the San Francisco Giants, 6-5. The Giants had already won the first game of the twin bill over the Padres.
The wild card is the only path to the playoffs for the Mets (26-31), whose chances of finishing second in the NL East evaporated earlier Friday when the Miami Marlins beat the New York Yankees, 4-3, in 10 innings.
To stay in contention heading into Sunday, the Mets need to sweep the doubleheader while two of the three teams ahead of them in the race for the final wild card -- the Giants and Philadelphia Phillies, need to lose both of their remaining games. The third of those teams, the Milwaukee Brewers, would have to lose at least one of their remaining two.
"We're still in this thing," Conforto said during a Zoom call Friday afternoon. "We need a little help. But I know these guys are going to do their best until the end, and we'll see what happens."
The Nationals (23-34) will take the field on what is likely to be a memorable birthday for manager Dave Martinez, who turns 56 Saturday. Washington reportedly agreed with Martinez, who steered the team to the first championship in franchise history last fall, on the terms of a three-year contract extension Friday.
The Nationals had a 2021 option on Martinez, but general manager Mike Rizzo said upon signing his own extension earlier this month that his "priority one" was to ink Martinez to a new long-term deal.
"My plan is and my preference is to not pick up the option and go well beyond that," Rizzo said.
Porcello is 3-1 with a 2.67 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals. DeGrom is 8-4 with a 2.50 ERA in 19 starts against Washington.
Scherzer is 11-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 23 games (22 starts) against the Mets, whom he no-hit in a doubleheader on the penultimate day of the season on Oct. 3, 2015. Sanchez is 5-7 with a 4.94 ERA in 18 starts against New York.
The presence of Porcello and deGrom ensures there will be a battle of former Cy Young Award winners in one of the games. Porcello won the AL's award in 2016 while Scherzer won in the AL in 2013 and in the in the NL in 2016 and 2017. deGrom then won the next two in the NL.
Porcello has been involved in all four battles of former Cy Young winners this season. He and Scherzer opposed each other on Aug. 5 and Aug. 11. Porcello also faced the Philadelphia Phillies' Jake Arrieta, the 2015 NL winner, on Sept. 4 and Sept. 15.
--Field Level Media