PHILADELPHIA -- No plastic sheets adorned the lockers in Citizens Bank Park's visiting clubhouse on Friday. Any champagne on the premises remained corked. In every way, it seemed just another victory for the Mets, similar in form and fashion to so many before it.
But the Mets accomplished something tangible with their 5-1 win over the Phillies, ensuring they will at least play beyond this weekend. At worst, the Mets will finish with the same 162-game record as the Cardinals, meaning even if they lose both of their remaining games and the Cards win all of theirs, those two teams would play a tiebreaker next week for the right to qualify for the National League Wild Card game. The Cardinals and Giants both won Friday night.
"It's step one of a big accomplishment," manager Terry Collins said. "We're certainly very, very pleased that we get to play past Sunday. But we want to take care of business [this weekend] and solidify where we need to be, and get ourselves ready for that day."
All the Mets need to clinch an NL Wild Card berth outright is one more victory over their final two games, which Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard will start. Beyond that, the Mets can still clinch outright if the Cardinals lose one of their final two games, or if the Giants lose two of their final three.
Of course, the Mets have no interest in relying on the help of others. Reaching this point by constructing the Majors' best record (26-12) since Aug. 20, the Mets understand their most direct route into the postseason is simply winning one more game. They are in the enviable position, with two games remaining, of controlling their own destiny.
"We've just got to keep going," outfielder Curtis Granderson said. "Tomorrow's the most important game of the season: Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies."
Thanks to the Mets' strong play in September, a playoff berth alone is no longer the only thing on their final-weekend agenda. With two more wins, or one win plus a loss from both the Cardinals and Giants, the Mets would also clinch home-field advantage for Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game.
Given last year's experience at Citi Field, the Mets know how valuable that can be.
"The reason you play is to make the playoffs," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "It's like Opening Day every day. Each day is like Opening Day all over again. It's great, man. That's why we play, and we're close to securing that, so we look forward to having that opportunity and really controlling our own destiny. We're not too focused on what everybody else does. If we come in tomorrow and take care of business, it really won't matter."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.