Greg Peavey and the Mets are one victory away from a ring after a franchise-record fourth straight playoff win, and the reality of the situation is slowly starting to sink in.
"It feels incredible, this team has everyone, from top to bottom, everyone has picked each other up," said Peavey, "and we've put ourselves in a good spot because of it."
The right-hander struck out a career-high nine batters over seven innings and the Mets got homers from Xorge Carrillo and Travis Taijeron to beat Richmond, 5-1, to get within a win of the Eastern League championship Wednesday at The Diamond. Peavey (1-1) held the Flying Squirrels to one run on five hits without walking a batter in his second postseason start.
"That was big. Xorge is swinging a good bat lately, he ran into one and hit it well," said Peavey. "To get a lead early, it's nice, especially in the playoffs, to go out and pitch with a cushion."
The 26-year-old, who threw 79 of his 105 pitches for strikes, retired 12 of the final 13 batters he faced -- whiffing eight during that stretch -- and finished strong by striking out the side in a 1-2-3 seventh. The gem came a week after the 2010 sixth-round pick surrendered six runs and was pulled after just two innings in a Division Series loss to Portland on Sept. 4.
"It felt pretty good. I was feeling my way through the first few innings, trying to incorporate my changeup more as the game moved on," the Oregon State product said. "And that was big for me, I was able to play the changeup off my fastball, I was getting a lot of strikeouts on fastballs late in counts."
Carrillo's two-run homer in the second put the Mets ahead, but Richmond responded in the bottom of the frame when Mario Lisson and Devis Harris hit consecutive doubles off Peavey for the Flying Squirrels' lone run of the game.
Taijeron added some insurance in the eighth when Mets' No. 3 prospect Brandon Nimmo walked and reliever Edwin Quirarte intentionally issued a pass to Brian Burgamy to face the cleanup man, who sent a three-run drive to left with two outs.
Randy Fontanez and Cody Satterwhite worked a scoreless inning apiece to close out the win and send the series home to Binghamton, where the Mets will have a chance to claim their first Eastern League crown since 1994 in Game 3 on Friday. Peavey said it was tough to hand the ball over after seven frames, although he had thrown105 pitches.
"Absolutely, it was really tough to give it up, but we've got such a great bullpen, it was easy for me. I have faith in them," he said.
The B-Mets' win helped lower Binghamton's 2014 postseason bullpen ERA to 1.05.
"Oh my gosh, they've been huge," Peavey said. "We come in and score some runs and the bullpen shuts it down. They've been great all year. They attack the strike zone. They go out there, they want to win and compete."
Richmond starter Adalberto Mejia (0-1) was charged with two runs on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings. The Giants affiliate finished the regular season at 79-63, claiming the Eastern League's Western Division, but face elimination Friday. Richmond will send Giants' No. 6 prospect Ty Blach to the mound in Game 3 of the best-of-5 series while Binghamton counters with 2009 second-rounder Steven Matz, the Mets' No. 9 prospect.
"We have confidence, but we also understand this is a good team. They didn't accidentally get to the Finals," Peavey said. "They have good pitching and hitting, so we need to make sure we keep our foot on the gas."