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Morning Briefing: Put a fork in the Nationals?

WASHINGTON --

FIRST PITCH: Given the historic collapse in 2007, when the New York Mets squandered a seven-game lead with 17 to play, it clearly is foolish to prematurely declare a race over.

Still, the Washington Nationals look done. And the Amazin's appear on a collision course with the Los Angeles Dodgers in a National League Division Series that begins on Oct. 9.

Even The Washington Post wrote the Nationals' obituary after the Mets overcame a six-run deficit en route to an 8-7 win on Tuesday in D.C. The Amazin's now lead the Nats by six games for first place in the National League East. The magic number is down to 19.

Jacob deGrom takes the mound on Wednesday with the Mets looking to close out a three-game sweep. DeGrom (12-7, 2.40 ERA) opposes right-hander Stephen Strasburg (8-6, 4.35) at 7:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park.

WEDNESDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:

  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis entered Mets lore Tuesday. Niewenhuis delivered a tiebreaking, pinch-hit homer in the eighth against Jonathan Papelbon that lifted the Mets to the series-clinching win. The Mets had exploded for six runs in the seventh, courtesy of a three-run double by Yoenis Cespedes and six walks. Cespedes rebounded from a costly error a half-inning earlier in center field that allowed three extra runs to score. Matt Harvey allowed a career-high-matching seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. Afterward, Harvey professed not to know when his next start would be, but he pledged to be ready. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Washington Post, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • Because it was mutually beneficial to Cespedes and the Mets, MLB and the players' union jointly agreed to a waiver that will allow the Mets to pursue the outfielder as a free agent this winter. Barring the intervention, the Mets would have been prohibited from re-signing Cespedes until May 15 after releasing him after the World Series. Read more in the Post, Daily News, Times, Journal, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

  • Columnist Joel Sherman in the Post is skeptical the Mets will re-sign Cespedes, believing his price tag could reach seven years and $175 million.

  • Columnist John Harper in the Daily News reviews Harvey's subpar performance.

  • Columnist David Lennon in Newsday suggests Tuesday's win reduces the importance of how much Harvey will pitch going forward.

  • Michael Powell in the Times reviews Tuesday night's dramatics.

  • The Mets will open the 2016 season at the Kansas City Royals on April 4. The home opener will be on April 8 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Check out next season's full schedule here.

  • With Carlos Torres out for at least a week or two with a strained left calf, the Mets added veteran ex-Padre Tim Stauffer from Triple-A Las Vegas as an extra arm for long relief.

  • Bartolo Colon earned the National League Player of the Week award after running his scoreless streak to 25 innings with a shutout Sunday against the Miami Marlins.

  • Pedro Martinez, upset with how his own injuries were handled by the Mets, lashed out in a series of tweets regarding the handling of Harvey. “When there is confusion about information, the player feels like he can't trust the organization and goes to his agent who looks out for him,” Martinez wrote. “… The Mets have their way of doing things but I don't think they do a good job relaying to a player the truth about his situation.” Read more in the Post.

  • Neil Irwin in the Times writes about the business lessons of the Harvey PR debacle.

  • Michael Cuddyer tossed a baseball and hit off a tee on Tuesday as he makes progress after receiving a cortisone injection in his right wrist on Sunday in New York.

  • Binghamton (Eastern League) and Savannah (South Atlantic League) begin their opening-round playoff series on Wednesday. The B-Mets send Tyler Pill to the mound.

  • From the bloggers … Mets Report declares the division race over.

BIRTHDAYS: Todd Zeile turns 50. ... Mike Hampton is 43. ... Kazuhisa Ishii is 42.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU'RE UP: Is the NL East race over?