I knew it. I freaking knew it. I knew that as soon as I started to doubt that the Mets would make the playoffs, they would do something to make me believe again. On Thursday night at Citi Field, the Mets had the type of win that either springboards a team to great heights or ends up as a blip on the radar in an otherwise forgettable season. The trick is that we never talk about all the times that it’s a blip on the radar. For now, we’ll assume that the 9-7 victory over the Yankees will propel the Mets to greatness, even though there’s no scientific evidence that will happen.
Besides, this is America. Since when do we let scientific evidence or lack thereof get in the way of a good point?
Before Alonso crushed that tater to lead off the bottom of the 10th, I told myself that if the Mets didn’t put the game away, I was going to finally write them off. What a different a few seconds make, right? But you have to understand my perspective. The Mets had already erased deficits of 4-0 and 7-4 in a must-win game. Edwin Diaz of all people kept the Yankees from scoring in the top of the 10th despite them starting with a runner on second base. The Mets had a golden opportunity to put the game away, and Alonso, who has struggled all season and was 0-for-4 in this one, didn’t waste any time.
The Polar Bear’s dramatic walk-off home run came on the heels of a baserunning blunder by Billy Hamilton that could have cost the Mets the game in the ninth inning. Hamilton was inserted as a pinch runner by Luis Rojas after Jeff McNeil drew a lead-off walk. With the Mets trailing 7-6, Hamilton did a great job getting Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman to balk to quickly reach second base. That wasn’t enough for Hamilton. Even though the Mets’ chances at tying the game were already great, he decided he needed more. Third base looked very tantalizing…
WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BILLY?! You already did your job. You reached scoring position with no outs. You are more than fast enough to score on any hit to the outfield. Your one job is to run fast and make smart decisions on the base paths. What in your mind makes you think it’s worth trying to steal third in that spot?
I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. It’s just simple, fundamental stuff knowing the game situation and not screwing everything up. Someone in that dugout needs to give Hamilton a stern talking to because he’s not a kid anymore. He’s a veteran pinch-running specialist and if he makes another mistake like that, he might not have a job in baseball.
Mets fans didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or frustrated when J.D. Davis followed up with a game-tying home run that would have been a game-winning home run had Hamilton just stayed put at second base.
Davis’s big hit was one of a whopping six Mets hit with runners in scoring position for the game. They went 6-for-12 with RISP and five of those came with two outs! When the Mets fell behind 4-0 in the second inning because Robert Gsellman was lousy once again, Todd Frazier got the comeback started with a solo home run.
In the fourth, the Mets tied the game thanks to consecutive two-out hits by Jake Marisnick, Amed Rosario, Robinson Chirinos, and McNeil. After the Mets fell behind again 7-4 because Miguel Castro allowed the Yankees a two-out rally of their own, Marisnick and Rosario struck back again in the eighth with big hits to pull the Mets within one.
It was all about unlikely heroes for the Mets. The acquisition of Frazier was widely panned by Mets fans including myself, but he couldn’t have been more vital with three extra-base hits. While Alonso and Davis provided the fireworks late in the game, it was Marisnick and the slumping Rosario at the bottom of the order who got the Mets back in the game, combining for five hits.
It’s going to take that kind of production from the whole lineup to gets the Mets back into the playoff picture. The pitching is going to be inconsistent for the rest of the campaign, so the bats have to take advantage of their opportunities.
The Mets start a huge series against the Phillies on Friday night with Rick Porcello and Jake Arrieta toeing the rubber. If the four-game set is as wild as the Subway Series was, New York and Philadelphia fans both need to buckle their seatbelts.
Residents of the City of Brotherly Love might not be able to handle any more excitement. That’s because their Flyers just polished off back-to-back overtime victories over the New York Islanders to send their second round playoff series to a Game 7. In fact, all three of Philadelphia’s wins in the series have come in overtime. You could say that the team has been skating on thin ice for the entire series.
The Canucks routed Vegas 4-0 last night to send that series to a Game 7 as well. That sets the stage for two Western Conference do-or-die games today with Dallas and Colorado playing their own Game 7 at 4:00 p.m. EDT before Vancouver and the Golden Knights get right back to it at 9:00 p.m.
Meanwhile, the NBA had another thrilling finish last night as OG Anunoby hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to save Toronto’s season. If anything goes wrong on this play, the Raptors would have fallen behind 3-0 in their series against the Celtics.
Almost as good as the shot with just half a second remaining is Kyle Lowry somehow getting the ball over Taco Fall’s insanely long arms and right into Anunoby’s hands so he could shoot without hesitating.
In the Western Conference, the Clippers blew out Denver to take a 1-0 lead in that series. It was a tough spot for the Nuggets, who had just finished off a strenuous and emotional Game 7 win over Utah two days prior. Facing the well-rested Clippers was not going to be easy, so the result wasn’t very surprising.
Tonight we get to see if the Bucks can avoid falling behind 3-0 to the Heat. Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to start feeling the pressure from fans and media if he follows up his MVP campaign with an early playoff exit. You can already tell that “Will Giannis Ever Win a Title?” is the next topic to be discussed endlessly on First Take.
We’ll also find out tonight if the Rockets have anything left in the tank after their Game 7 win over Oklahoma City. Houston will have its hands full with the Lakers, who have been on hiatus since crushing Portland in five games. Hope everyone has an electric Friday.