T.J. Rivera Had the Game of His Life
When perusing the lineup, it was surprising to see T.J. Rivera‘s name in the lineup instead of Kelly Johnson with the right hander starting. Rivera would justify Collins’ faith in him going 3-4 with his first major league homer and three RBI. He would also rob Daniel Murphy of a base hit with a nice play in the first.
Things had started out well with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. Tonight, he continued to make his Cy Young case in striking out his 200th batter of the season and dominating the Nationals.
Thor’a final line was seven innings, four hits, one run, one earned, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. He had his dominant stuff working throwing his hardest slider in the second half.
The only run he allowed was off a Wilson Ramos opposite field double. Ramos only had a chance to hit it as Thor took a little off his fastball there. It was thrown at 98 MPH.
Aside from that double, Thor had everything working. He wouldn’t get the win because the Mets couldn’t generate enough offense.
Asdrubal Cabrera continued his second half tear. He doubled in his first two at bats, and even on a hobbled knee, he would steal third after each double. It was heads up base running as he took advantage of the Nationals shifting with Curtis Granderson at the plate.
In true Mets fashion, they would strand him there in the first. However, in the third, T.J. Rivera took advantage of the RBI opportunity much in the same way he’s taken advantage of every opportunity he’s ever been given by this Mets organization. Rivera’s RBI single would tie the score at one. Rivera would be heard from again.
In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes would start the game winning rally with a single off Nationals starter A.J. Cole. Granderson brought him home with an RBI triple. Rivera then brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
With the seven innings from Thor, and the two run lead, the game was effectively over. Addison Reed pitched a scoreless eighth, putting Jeurys Familia in position to recorded his 49th save of the season to tie Jose Valverde for the most saves in a single season by a Dominican born pitcher.
It didn’t happen as Familia was abandoned by his defense.
Murphy just beat out an infield base hit bringing Bryce Harper to the plate. Familia did his job getting Harper to ground to Jose Reyes. With no play at second on Murphy, Reyes went to first throwing wide of the bag. James Loney, who never stretches, also apparently never comes off the bag.
Instead of Murphy and second with one out, the Nationals had runners on second and third with no outs. Anthony Rendon hit a single past the diving Reyes. On the play, Reyes did not show much range. The Nationals then tied the game on a Ramos infield single.
At this point, the wheels were unravelling, and it appeared to be a near certainty the Mets were going to lose. There were runners on first and second with no outs. Familia bore down. He first got Ryan Zimmerman to hit a weak liner to Loney. Clint Robinson then hit a sinking line drive to Rivera, who nabbed it just before it hit the dirt. Not taking chances, he flipped to Rivera for a 4-6-3 double play.
The game was tied at three making it a brand new ballgame. Rivera would untie it in the 10th with his first career home run off Mark Melancon.
It put the capper on what was a terrific game for the undrafted Rivera. Tonight, he showed everyone the guile and talent that took him from non-prospect status to an important contributor for a playoff team.
Fernando Salas then came on to close it out in the bottom of the 10th. One of the reasons why he the Mets got him was his closing experience. He got so close too by making quick work of the first two batters. However, Jayson Werth would bloop one in, and Terry Collins wouldn’t take any chances.
Collins went to the former National Jerry Blevins to get the former Met Murphy. For what it’s worth, Murphy has trouble with Blevins:
Murphy was telling me at All Star Game he just has trouble seeing the ball out of Blevins' hand
— Kevin Kernan (@WheresKernan) September 14, 2016
Blevins would then get a huge strikeout of Murphy recording his first save as a Met giving the Mets a 4-3 victory.
With that, the Mets get back in the win column and have a chance to get some breathing room in the Wild Card race with the Cardinals currently losing.
Game Notes: Wilmer Flores is still unable to go with a neck injury.