The Mets had no choice but to win on Monday. They'll face a similar challenge on Tuesday.Harol Gonzalez delivered five strong innings and Aaron Altherr drove home four runs to send Triple-A Syracuse past Rochester, 8-4, and into a tiebreaker game Tuesday afternoon against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.The Mets, who tied the RailRiders
The Mets had no choice but to win on Monday. They'll face a similar challenge on Tuesday.
Harol Gonzalez delivered five strong innings and Aaron Altherr drove home four runs to send Triple-A Syracuse past Rochester, 8-4, and into a tiebreaker game Tuesday afternoon against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Mets, who tied the RailRiders atop the International League North Division, will play ia one-game tiebreaker to determine the division winner. The loser will miss the postseason.
Syracuse entered the final day of the regular season at 74-65, one game behind Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, a Yankees affiliate that lost at home to Buffalo, 5-3, earlier in the day. That loss dropped the RailRiders to 75-65, setting up a must-win opportunity for the Mets in Rochester.
Syracuse didn't waste time, scoring twice early off Red Wings starter Jake Reed. Jason Krizan doubled home Jed Lowrie with one out in the first inning before Altherr added an RBI double to center in the second. Arismendy Alcantara hit his 13th homer of the year to right in the fifth and Altherr singled home Krizan in the sixth as the Mets built a 4-1 lead.
Danny Espinosa and Rubén Tejada added a run-scoring singles in the seventh before Altherr capped the inning with his third hit of the game, a two-run single to center.
Brandon Barnes slugged his 30th homer of the year in the fourth for Rochester before Wilin Rosario added a two-run drive in the eighth, his 20th. Reed (5-3) was charged with two runs on four hits over two innings.
Gameday box score
Gonzalez (6-0), a 24-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic, allowed a run on four hits, struck out six and did not walk a batter in the win. He threw 44 of his 65 pitches for strikes before the Syracuse bullpen took over and held the Red Wings to three runs over the final four frames. Chris Mazza pitched two scoreless innings before Adonis Uceta and Tim Peterson each fired a frame to close out the win.
Charlotte has already claimed the IL Wild Card, so it'll be an all-or-nothing battle on Sept. 3 for the IL's North crown. Gwinnett (79-59) and Columbus (80-59) have won the IL's South and West divisions, respectively.
Tuesday's tiebreaker is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders are 14-6 so far this year against Syracuse. The tiebreaking game will officially be considered an extension of the regular season -- Syracuse has not won a playoff game in 21 years since taking a pair in a five-game semifinals series loss to Buffalo in 1998. Syracuse last reached the postseason in 2014 as a Nationals affiliate but was swept by Pawtucket.
Danny Wild is an editor for MiLB.com.