Live by the Home Run, Die by the Home Run, Resurrected by the Home Run
As we have seen all season, the Mets basically need to hit home runs in order to score runs and win games. Last night, against the Phillies was no exception in what was a back-and-forth nail bitter.
The home run was an important one as it gave the Mets and Seth Lugo a 2-0 lead in a game they really had to have after being swept by the Braves.
Well, because this is the Mets, and nothing is easy, that two run lead would turn into a 3-2 deficit thanks to a couple of Phillies long balls. At the time, Seth Lugo was cruising, after only allowing a run off a Roman Quinn RBI groundout after Cesar Hernandez legged out a triple. However, in the top of the fifth, Ryan Howard and Cameron Rupp would got back-to-back. Those homers effectively knocked Lugo out of the game after another strong effort.
Ty Kelly would pinch hit for Lugo in the bottom of the inning, and he would get a rally started with a walk. He eventually came home on a Yoenis Cespedes clutch two-out single tying the game. With the way things have been going with the Mets lately that RBI single seemed bigger than it probably was. What was even bigger was Cespedes RBI double in the seventh that would score Jose Reyes to give the Mets a late 4-3 lead. With Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia ready for the eighth and ninth, this game seemed in the bag.
It wasn’t as Reed was done in by three balls that didn’t leave the infield and one that did. Hernandez used his speed again to bunt his way on, and he was standing at second after a Quinn sacrifice bunt. The Mets would challenge the next play, and it was really close, but Odubel Herrera beat T.J. Rivera‘s throw to first to set up runners on the corner with one out. Rivera really did all he could do on that play. He made a diving stop that saved a run, he popped up, and he made a strong throw. Herrera just beat the throw. Why? Well, as usual the “good defensive baseman” James Loney couldn’t bother stretching on the play. It was a crucial play because Maikel Franco would hit a three run homer to turn the Mets sure-handed victory into a 6-4 deficit.
There was an ominous tone to the home run after the Braves series. It was an even worse situation when the Mets failed to score in the bottom of the eighth and the bottom of the Mets lineup was due up in the bottom of the ninth. Brandon Nimmo would pinch hit for Travis d’Arnaud and get on with a single. After Nimmo, Jay Bruce made his obligatory pinch hit strike out thereby leaving the game in Reyes’ hands:
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger hit in Reyes’ Mets career. As big as that home run was, what would follow in the 11th would loom even larger.
In his second straight multiple inning outing, Familia would put the Mets in position to lose in his second inning of work. After a clean 10th, Familia would allow a leadoff double to Freddy Galvis. Familia would be ever so close to navigating around it getting the next two guys out. Then in a curious move, perhaps to negate the ability of Hernandez killing the Mets with his legs again, Collins ordered an intentional walk. A.J. Ellis, who is a renown clutch hitter, would deliver the go-ahead single giving the Phillies a 7-6 lead.
Jerry Blevins would relieve Familia, and he would load the bases by hitting Herrera. That led Collins to turn to Jim Henderson, who would walk Franco to give the Phillies an almost insurmountable two run lead.
Still, the Mets had a chance with Nimmo leading off. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the same magic he had in his last at bat. Michael Conforto, pinch hitting for Henderson, would have to get this rally started. He did by drawing a walk. He would find himself standing on second after a Reyes single. At that point, the Mets would send Asdrubal Cabrera to the plate as the winning run. Right now, he is the guy you want at the plate more than anyone – not just the Mets, but in all of baseball. He would show you why:
His bat flip said it all. It was a huge emotionally charged home run to give the Mets the victory they so desperately needed. The home run also made baseball history as the Mets become the second team to come back with homers to erase two run deficits in the ninth inning or later in a game.
With the much needed victory, you felt the momentum for this team shift. You once again felt as if the Mets were assured of winning a Wild Card spot. As it stood, the win helped the Mets keep pace with the Giants and put them a half a game up on the idle Cardinals.