Magic Number 2

After a heart wrenching beginning to their series in Miami, the Mets were able to secure a victory in the next two games. Syndergaard looked spectacular striking out 8 on Tuesday night, and had some great run support as the Mets cruised to a 12-1 victory. 

Seth Lugo had another fantastic start on Wednesday, not letting the 2 run homer he gave up to Martin Prado in the bottom of the first shake him. Bruce’s bat came to life for the second night in a row blasting a two run homer in the Top of the 5th. This gave the Mets a 5-2 lead which they would hang on to and win the game. 

Meanwhile out in St. Louis the Cardinals would lose 2-1 to the Reds after failing to get in the tying run at third base. Everything seemed to be in perfect motion as the Mets magic number dropped to 2. They now have a 2.5 game lead over the Cardinals in that first wild card slot and a 1 game lead over the Giants who lost 2-0 to the Rockies on Wednesday night. 

If the Mets manage to secure a wild card game, and a  win, this will be the first time since the 1999 and 2000 seasons that the Mets have gone to the playoffs two years in a row. 

Miami

You could feel the weight of the sadness in Miami on Monday night. The Mets and Marlins came together in an embrace on the field before opening their three game series, a game that Jose Fernandez should have been there to pitch. Every player on the Marlins donned their black jerseys with Fernandez’s name and number on the back in tribute to the late pitcher. 

Dee Gordon was the lead-off batter, and decided to bat right handed for one pitch in tribute to Jose. He crushed the third pitch for a home run. Tears streaming down his face as he crossed home plate, pounding his chest and pointing up at the sky, as if to let Fernandez know that it was for him. 

He cried as he re-entered the dugout his teammates gathered around him with their support. It was one of the most sad and beautiful things I had ever seen. 

The Mets would go on to lose last night 7-3. It only felt right. It was a game the Marlins were supposed to win. Baseball is wonderful in that way.

The Mets maintained their wild card spot but only a half a game above the Giants now. They need to push forward from here if they want to see October, but for one night, it was okay for everyone in baseball to be a Marlins fan. 

Thank You Vin.

Sometimes baseball writes a better script for itself than any of us can imagine. A Hollywood type of ending perfect for LA. 

Vin Scully has  been one of the most recognizable sports broadcasters for the past few decades. I often think of him as the “Don Pardo” of baseball. Scully has been the broadcaster for the Dodgers since their days in Brooklyn, and after 67 years he’s decided to hang up the mic and retire. 

It was the Dodgers final home game of the year. Tied at 3-3 with the Rockies, in the bottom of the 10th inning. Charlie Culberson would give Scully a proper send off as he crushed a walk off homer to left field.

“Can you believe it? A walk off home run! The Dodgers clinch the division and will celebrate on schedule.” 

I don’t think anyone could believe it. According to the LA Times, Scully has called close to 10,000 Dodger games. Some of his most memorable include Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series, and of course, the favorite of every Mets fan:

“Little roller up along first…behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!” 

His favorite though? When he called the Brooklyn Dodgers one and only World Series victory over the New York Yankees. He was 25 years old, and shared in the same longing as many other Dodger fans did in those days to finally beat the Yankees and win it all.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the Brooklyn Dodgers are Champions of the World.” It played over the radio waves in his beautiful sing-song tone. His words were like a warm embrace to all those listening. Scully said he couldn’t say another word on that broadcast without crying out of pure joy. 

It’s going to be a little strange for Dodger fans not hearing that familiar voice over the radio waves anymore. But for his last home game at Dodger stadium, it was the perfect ending. 

 

 

Jose Fernandez

The baseball world woke up to shock and sadness this morning when the news broke that Jose Fernandez had been killed in a boating accident. Fernandez, just 24 years old was a star on the rise. According to mlb.com, his last outing on September 20th was one of the best of his career. He pitched 8 shut out innings and struck out 12 in a 1-0 victory over the Nationals. Fernanadez pitched in the All Star game this year, and was crowned Rookie of the Year in 2013.  He was a spectacular talent, I always enjoyed watching him pitch.  Fernandez was one of those athletes that you watched in awe trying to figure out how he made it look so easy. Needless to say, this is a devastating loss to the Marlins, his family and friends, and major league baseball. 

Boom Goes the Blonde Bombshell

After Cespedes being robbed the night before, and Duda just missing a walk off earlier in last night’s game, I thought for sure the Mets magic had run out for the season.

Once again they’ve proved me wrong. The Mets needed this win badly. They needed it to get back on track, they needed it to help nurse the wound that was the news of Matz being pulled from his start on Friday. Asdrubal Cabrera delivered. In what I can only compare to right now as “Daniel Murphy-like” heroics in the bottom of the 11th, Cabrera blasted a home run into right field. When you’re watching the game, you can always tell right as it comes off the bat. Sometimes I don’t think the batter can always tell, it could just look like a deep fly ball from their end.

Cabrera knew it though. He knew it and gave us all the most glorious bat flip. Possibly the best of the entire baseball season. Mets fans are going to be replaying this one for awhile:

Terry Collins is lucky this team has so much fight in them. Even on nights where his over management has set them up to fail, the Mets come through. And they come through in spectacular fashion.

Chop, Chop: The Mets get swept by the Braves.

No matter the year, or the type of season the Mets are having, it seems that they cannot escape the bludgeoning they constantly take from the Braves. It plays out like a Greek tragedy every time. Even during a season that the Braves go below .500 baseball, they still find a way to pull an upset on the Mets. Driving Mets fans everywhere into complete madness. 

I grew up in the 90s when the Mets/Braves rivalry was so intense Im surprised it didn’t burn Shea Stadium or Turner field to the ground. Long gone are the days of John Rocker, and Chipper Jones (Laaaarrryyyyyy), that hatred seems to have now transferred over to Bryce Harper and the Nats. Which makes sense since that’s the team in the division that has been giving the Mets the most trouble. 

Call it bad luck, call it over management on Terry Collins’s end, call it a curse. The Mets have gone 9-10 this season against the Braves.  

The Mets are gearing up for 4 crucial games against the Phillies this weekend. Games that maybe wouldn’t have had such high stakes had the Mets at least taken one or two from the Braves this week. That’s never a great feeling going into a series especially when playing another team that’s currently below .500. The Phillies are coming into New York having won 6 of their last 4. Steven Matz will be making his return from the DL on Friday night, which will have everyone holding their breath in anticipation and fear. 

It’s going to be a weekend that I think will make or break this team. The Mets have continued to get lucky at least with the Cardinals and Giants have been losing as well. The National League Wild Card therefore continues to look like this:

My hope is that the Mets can sweep the Phillies and the Cubs will ruin St. Louis leaving the Mets to face the Giants in the Wild Card game. The last thing the Mets want is for this race to be so close that it comes down to winning the last two or three games of the season. 

Benching Bruce

There’s been a lot of chat recently on whether or not Terry Collins made the right decision last night to bench a struggling Jay Bruce. A Jay Bruce, who is only 0 for his last 12, and 3 for his last 37 with the Mets according to Anthony DiComo. New Yorkers are not a patient group of people. Something I think Bruce is well aware of at this point. So last night Terry Collins took a huge chance batting rookie Eric Campbell in Bruce’s spot instead. 

Campbell singled into left field and brought in the run that would make the game 5-4. The Mets would still go on to lose last night, but seeing Campbell come through for us made me feel a whole lot better than watching Bruce struggle at the plate yet again.

I was watching High Heat on the MLB network this afternoon and they were making the argument that Collins needed to let Bruce “swing through his slump.”  I could not disagree more. Maybe if this was June baseball, that would be an option. But with the Mets into a dead heat Wild Card race with only 11 games left to play,  I wouldn’t say this is the ideal time to let Bruce “swing through it.” 

It’s crunch time for the Mets, and with the loss last night, they’re in a three way tie for the Wild Card with the Giants and Cardinals. There’s no time to be sensitive to an all star’s feelings. If Bruce wants to keep his spot in that lineup, he’s going to have to start producing for the Mets while there’s still time to do so. Or at the very least, don’t drop routine fly balls.

The Wild Wild West

As the Mets lost some ground last night to the last place Braves, the NL West turned into an old fashion shootout between the Dodgers and Giants. 

Former Met Justin Turner kicked things off and tied up the game in the 9th on an RBI single. I always liked Turner, and since the NLDS last year I always thought it was a shame that the Mets ended up letting him go. The guy turned into a spectacular hitter. 

After that it was Adrian Gonzalez who took care of the gamer winner on a walk off double. Dodger Stadium went absolutely mad. I can only imagine this is reminiscent of when both teams had their great rivalry going in New York back in the 40s and 50s. 

But it wouldn’t be September baseball without a bench clearing fight between Bumgarner and Puig:

The Giants just blew their 30th save of the season in quite a spectacular fashion. The Giants are going to have to pick things up and start playing like a team that wants to go to the post season and maybe stop counting on the fact that it’s an even year and a World Series is just destined to fall in their lap. 

Boston ruins the Yankees

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but as a Mets fan, I truly enjoy the Red Sox. It goes back to that “people from Brooklyn and people from Boston are actually pretty similar” kind of thing. And while I do applaud this Yankees team for making the AL wild card race that much more intense, it’s always more fun for me to watch the Red Sox take them down in Boston. 

Hanley Ramirez pulled a Curtis Granderson (it’s fun I get to say things like that now) last night to help lift the Red Sox to a 5-4 win over the Bombers. Boston now sits three games above Baltimore at the top of the AL East. It’s a nice cushion to have as they head into Camden Yards to play 4 games agains the O’s. The Sox are an offensive machine right now, and even if they drop 3 of 4 to the birds, I can still see them coming back to win the division. 

The Yankees playoff picture however, may be slowly falling out of focus. They’ve now dropped 4 games back from the second wild card spot. Detroit, Seattle, and Houston have all pulled ahead of them. Toronto continues to falter as well so it’s not completely absurd that the Yankees could still make a push for it. The Mariners have won 11 of their last 16 and if they manage to sweep or take 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays in this next series, they could sneak their way into that second wild card spot. 

The Yankees will hopefully get a little bit of relief playing their next 3 games in Tampa, but it may not be enough to push them forward as they run out of games to play in September. 

Ain’t it Grand?

When the Mets game went into extra innings last night, I thought “surely, we will lose.” The Mets track record has never been great in extras. Our bullpen usually coughs up a cheap run and then in the bottom half of the inning we can never seem to score. 

Curtis Granderson already did the impossible of tying things up with a solo shot in the bottom of the 11th. I had turned off my TV after the top half of the inning not wanting to subject myself to watching the crushing defeat. Two minutes later, I turned it back on and Grandy crushed one to left center. I believe my exact words were:

Then came the bottom of the 12th. Cabrera, Cespedes, and Grandy. Cabrera flies out, and after Ces followed suit, I thought “oh man if he couldn’t win it right now we’re going to be here all night.” Granderson is the last out this inning. I’m sure I had the fleeting thought that all Mets fans did in this moment. “He can’t do it again. Can he? No. That would be insane. I don’t know if that’s ever happened before? No.” 

Bang. Home run to right field. Game over. Mets win it and remain sitting two games up on the Cardinals and tied for the first wild card spot with the Giants. If I wasn’t completely exhausted I would have been jumping up and down screaming with joy. It was a much needed win to keep the hope alive after the news earlier about DeGrom being shut down for the season. Even after last nights heroics, I woke up this morning to articles stating the Mets don’t have “it” to make it to October this year. 

While I don’t know if a World Series appearance is necessarily in the cards, I know the Mets have the drive to claw their way into a post season appearance for the second year in a row.