Game Four of the ALDS between the Red Sox and Astros was a just a bizarre game with many things you may not have seen before in a baseball game and some things may never see again in a game. Both Chris Sale and Justin Verlander came into the game in relief, and both would give up the lead. For that matter so would Craig Kimbrel. To lead off the top of the ninth, Rafael Devers would hit an inside-the-park homer.
All of these things and many more of the events that happened in the game were truly remarkable. However, there is one that stands out above the rest for Mets fans.
In the top of the ninth, the Astros were trying to add an insurance run to their 4-3 lead. With runners on first and second and two outs, Astros manager A.J. Hinch would tab Carlos Beltran to pinch hit for designated hitter Evan Gattis. With a 2-2 count against him, Beltran would foul off three straight pitches before hitting a curveball off the Green Monster for an RBI double extending the Astros lead to 5-3. With Devers’ aforementioned inside-the-park homer in the bottom of the ninth, Beltran would have the game winning hit; a hit that came off of a curveball. It should come as no surprise to Mets fans this was the first ninth inning RBI in Beltran’s illustrious postseason career.
While all of Houston rejoiced, Mets fans were once again shaking their heads with visions of a Beltran frozen by an Adam Wainwright curveball.
Throughout his career, Beltran has certainly earned a reputation for one of the greatest postseason hitters in Major League history. When Cooperstown comes calling, one of the reasons for Beltran’s induction will be his October exploits. Mets fans are certainly no stranger to them.
Many forget before that strikeout, Beltran had hit three homers in that series against the Cardinals. The Mets don’t win Game One of that series, let alone get to a Game Seven without Beltran. If the Mets won that Game Seven, it was truly a toss-up between him and Carlos Delgado as to who was going to be the NLCS MVP. When Beltran dug in against Wainwright with a berth to the World Series on the line, it looked like it was going to be Beltran.
But it wasn’t. And so a part of Beltran’s complicated legacy as a baseball player and a New York Met soon crystallized.
Beltran is one of the greatest postseason players in Major League history, but he didn’t even attempt to swing at a pitch that ended the World Series. The Mets would never have gotten to that point without Beltran, but in reality, during his tenure with the Mets, the team was mostly disappointing with two emotionally crippling collapses in subsequent seasons. Beltran was one of the greatest Mets to ever wear the uniform, but for some reasons, even before the strikeout, Mets fans never seemed to fully embrace him.
Regardless of the past, Beltran was a great Mets player, who absolutely gave it his all with the Mets. He did all he could do to be a great player here and to ensure the Mets success. Lost in his legacy was his immediately taking David Wright and Jose Reyes to workouts with him to show them what it took to be a great baseball player.
So yes, Beltran struck out looking against Wainwright, and he doubled off Kimbrel. Mets fans were depressed, and all of Houston rejoiced. Mets fans should be happy as well, and not just because a former Met won a game against a former Brave.
Beltran was a great Mets player who deserves our admiration and respect even if he wasn’t fully given it while he was a member of the Mets. He was a great Met who did everything he could do to help them win. He was a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, MVP caliber player the Mets have not seen from an outfielder before and have not seen since. We should cheer for him when he finally gets that game winning series clinching hit, and we should want him to get that elusive World Series ring.
Before the last game of the season, Terry Collins told us all what we were expecting. He will not be returning as Mets manager. While unnecessary, he was magnanimous in announcing he was stepping aside and taking himself out of consideration for the managerial position with his contract expiring. The Mets rewarded him with how he’s handled himself in his seven years as manager and over these trying three days with a front office position.
In essence, Collins’ tenure with the Mets ended much in the way it started. The Mets were bad and injured. It was a circus around the team, and he was the face in front of the media left holding the bag. What we saw in all of those moments was Collins was human, which is something we don’t always see in managers.
Part of being human is being emotional. We’ve seen Collins run the gamut of emotions in those postgame press conferences. And yes, we’ve seen him cry. Perhaps none more so than when he had that gut wrenching decision to keep Johan Santana in the game and let him chase immortality. In his most prescient moment as a manger, Collins knew he could’ve effectively ended a great players’ career, and yet, he couldn’t just sit there and rob his player of his glory. In the end, that would be the defining characteristic in Collins’ tenure as manager.
He let Jose Reyes bunt for a single and take himself out of a game to claim the Mets first ever batting title. He left Santana in for that no-hitter. He initially let David Wright try to set his own schedule for when he could play until Wright all but forced Collins to be the adult. Through and through, he would stick by and defer to his players, including but not limited to sending Matt Harvey to pitch the ninth.
Until the very end, Collins had an undying belief in his players, especially his veteran players. It would be the source of much consternation among fans. This was on more highlighted than his usage of Michael Conforto. What was truly bizarre about Collins’ handling of Conforto wasn’t his not playing one of his most talented players, it was Collins had a penchant for developing players when he was interested.
In fact, that 2015 Mets team was full of players Collins developed. You can give credit to Dan Warthen, but Collins deserves credit for helping that staff develop. Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Jeurys Familia all developed into dominating pitchers under Collins guidance.
But it wasn’t just the heralded pitchers. It may have taken some time, but Collins developed some other less heralded prospects into good Major League players. Collins helped make Jon Niese, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Wilmer Flores into significant contributors to a pennant winner. It wasn’t just those players. Collins seemingly brought out the best in all of his players.
With the exception of Murphy, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who performed better after leaving the Mets. Ruben Tejada, Eric Young, Ike Davis, Josh Thole, R.A. Dickey, and Marlon Byrd regressed after leaving the Mets. Really, you can pick you player, and the chances are those players were not the same after playing for a different manager.
Because of his managing, Mets fans saw things they never thought they’d see. A knuckleball pitcher won 20 games and a Cy Young. A Mets player won a batting title. There was actually a Mets no-hitter. Despite the Madoff scandal, the Mets got back to a World Series.
Through all of our collective hand wringing over his managing, we have all tended to lose sight of that. Collins got the best out of his players. It’s why we saw the rise of that team in a dream like 2015 season, and it’s why the Mets fought back so fiercely in 2016 to make consecutive postseasons.
And in those moments, Collins celebrated with his team . . . and the fans. More than anyone who has ever been a part of the Mets, Collins treated the fans with respect. He returned their affection. That was no more apparent than that improbable run in 2015:
— Matt Dunn (@MattDunnSNY) October 22, 2015
It was more than the celebrating. Collins was there to console grieving widows and take time out for sick children who just had heart transplants. At his core, Collins is a good and decent man. It may be that part of his personality which allowed him to get the most out of his players. It helps you overlook some of his shortcomings.
Certainly, Collins has left behind many reliever careers in his wake. Names like Tim Byrdak and Scott Rice are just footnotes in Mets history, and that is because Collins over used his relievers. This was just one aspect of his poor managing. There were many times where he left you scratching your head. It was his managing that helped cost the Mets the 2015 World Series.
However, as noted, the Mets would not have gotten there if not for Collins. To that end, we all owe him a bit of gratitude for that magical season. We owe him gratitude and respect for how he has treated the fans.
He did that more than anyone too because he ends his career as the longest tenured manager in Mets history. When he was hired no one expected him to last that long. Yet, it happened, and despite all of his faults, the Mets were better off for his tenure. In the end, I respected him as a man, and I appreciated what he did for this franchise.
I wish him the best of luck, and I’ll miss him. My hope is that whoever replaces him is able to capture the best of the man. Those are certainly huge shoes that are not easily filled. Mostly, I hope he’s at peace at what was a good run with the Mets, and I wish him the best of luck in his new role.
Even though the Mets were well out of it, and there was literally nothing to play for in that final game of the season, there was some buzz to the final game of the season. The reason why was Noah Syndergaard got the start. He was great:
Noah Syndergaard, Nasty 100mph sinker movement…1st Pitch of the Game. 😳 pic.twitter.com/3NG2RZBO46
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 2, 2017
Syndergaard lasted just two innings striking out two while allowing no hits. He would then leave the game. This wasn’t his April 30th start against the Nationals. No, this was planned. Still, like this season once Syndergaard departed the pitchers who followed weren’t up to par, and the Mets chances of winning took a real hit.
Specifically, Chris Flexen and Rafael Montero imploded. Flexen allowed five runs on six hits in just 1.1 innings. Things would have been worse for him, but Kevin McGowan bailed him out striking out the final two batters of the inning.
It was then Montero’s turn to implode in the eighth with him allowing five runs on two hits and hit walks. The low light was a Nick Williams inside-the-park homer.
Meanwhile, Nick Williams with an inside the parker. Phillies crushing Mets in the season finale. pic.twitter.com/oa8NLKHNdZ
— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) October 1, 2017
In many ways, it was quite fitting the worst ERA in team history was clinched on an inside-the-park homer in a bandbox like Citizen’s Bank Park.
Those 11 Phillies runs would go unchallenged as the Mets could only muster two hits on the day. One of them was by Gavin Cecchini, who was the only Mets player who had a decent day at the plate going 1-3 with a walk. In many ways, that is a fitting end to the season. Cecchini, a guy the Mets never gave much of a chance, performed well while the Mets favored players didn’t.
Like all of us, Terry Collins was ready for it all to end, and he just wanted to get out of there:
The moment we've all been waiting for, the end to this miserable season. Terry couldn't wait to get the hell out of the dugout lol pic.twitter.com/1Q50Qrufx4
— MetsKevin11 (@MetsKevin11) October 1, 2017
Game Notes: In what could be the last game of his career as a Met, Jose Reyes did not enter the game.
Matt Harvey put it best tonight in his post-game presser when he said:
Matt Harvey: "The positive is that this nightmare of a season is over for me."
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) September 30, 2017
It really has been a nightmare season where you didn’t know what was going to happen next for Harvey. Just when you thought nothing worse could happen, Harvey balked:
Matt Harvey, 2017 pic.twitter.com/81YeBdSgjW
— Good Fundies (@goodfundies) September 30, 2017
That third inning balk would force in the Phillies fourth run of the game giving them a 4-1 lead.
Harvey would last one more inning. His final line was 4.0 IP, seven hits, four runs, four earned, three walks, and three strikeouts.
We can talk about a number of improvements Harvey made, but he struggled again. At the end of the day, he finished the season with a 6.70 ERA, which is the highest ERA ever for a Mets pitcher with at least 15 starts.
Harvey would also suffer his seventh loss of the season because the Mets offense could only muster two runs off a pair of solo shots. The first was a Jose Reyes first inning home run. The next was a Dominic Smith fifth inning homer.
The Smith homer brought the Mets within two. After Hansel Robles struggled in his second inning of work, the score was 6-2, and the game was well out of reach.
Watching this game, there seemed to be a malaise over this team. That should come as no surprise in the aftermath of the article wherein unnamed players are front office people trashed Terry Collins.
In the end, it took David Wright, someone who has not played a game all year to say what needed to be said:
David Wright: "For a player to not put his name on the quote and to bash Terry, who has a lot of success. …that is cowardly and lazy."
— Matt Ehalt (@MattEhalt) September 29, 2017
Game Notes: Jacob deGrom will not make his last start as he is suffering from gastroenteritis.
In what is likely Terry Collins last game as the Mets manager at Citi Field, he went out the way he would’ve wanted to go out. No, not batting Jose Reyes lead-off while sitting Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto against the left-handed Braves starter Sean Newcomb. Although, we can be sure he was happy to do that. No, Collins went out a winner.
The main reason the Mets won this game was Robert Gsellman.
Gsellman would allow just one run over six innings while allowing six hits. That sole run came off an Ozzie Albies two out RBI single in the third. That wouldn’t be the Braves last threat.
In the fifth, the Braves loaded the bases with two outs with Mets killer Freddie Freeman striding to the plate. Gsellman would get out of the jam striking out Freeman: one of his four on the night.
Gsellman would depart in the sixth due to the bat of Travis d’Arnaud. d’Arnaud would have all three Mets RBI on the night.
Gsellman led off the fifth with a walk, and Reyes followed with a single. After a Lagares strikeout, an Asdrubal Cabrera groundout moved Gsellman and Reyes to second and third for d’Arnaud, who delivered a two RBI single under the diving Swanson for a 3-1 lead.
The game would stay tight until the seventh when the Mets would blow the doors open with the help of a Freeman error.
That error proved costly as Smith would snap out of a 3-35 streak with a three run homer into the Coke Den.
.@TheRealSmith22's 3-run homer highlights the 4 run 7th. 😀
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 28, 2017
Surprisingly, the rally would continue. Matt Reynolds singled, and Nori Aoki walked chasing Johnson. The Braves substituted Ian Krol for Johnson. In what may prove to be Reyes’ last at-bat at Citi Field in a Mets uniform, he doubled home Reynolds and Aoki giving the Mets a 7-1 lead.
Jamie Callahan, Chasen Bradford, and Paul Sewald combined to pitch the final three scoreless innings preserving the 7-1 win.
This game closed a chapter in the legacy of Collins and perhaps Reyes. It’s very likely neither one of them will be Mets next year. For Collins part, he deserved to go out this way.
Through it all, he gave his all to the Mets and treated Mets fans better than any other Mets manager. Whoever takes over for him will have big shoes to fill on that front.
Almost five years ago to the day, R.A. Dickey took the mound for the Mets, and he earned his 20th win of the season all but locking up his highly improbable Cy Young Award.
While Dickey hasn’t been anywhere near that good since the 2012 season, he looked like that pitcher once again tonight. He controlled his knuckleball extremely well not walking anyone. He kept the Mets honest by throwing his fastball just enough.
Really, the Mets didn’t seem like they were going to touch Dickey until Kevin Plawecki hit what seemed to be the first mistake Dickey made all night for a two run homer. The homer pulled the Mets to within 3-2 making the game a bit more perilous for Dickey than originally anticipated when the inning began.
It would be a two out Amed Rosario triple that finally chased Dickey from the game. With Dickey having been a beloved Met during his tenure, he received a well earned ovation as he entered the dugout.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) September 27, 2017
In the second, Montero got himself out trouble by issuing a lead-off walk to Dansby Swanson. He scored on a Jace Peterson double, and Peterson scored on an Ozzie Albies RBI single. It was be enough to ensure Montero would finish the year with an ERA over 5.00.
On the season, Montero finished 5-11 with a 5.26 ERA. Keep in mind, this is what was deemed to be a resurgent year for Montero where the Mets think he could realistically be a contributor next year.
While the three runs were enough to ding Montero, it would not prove enough to give Dickey a win partially because Sam Freeman was snake bit.
The first issue was his issuing a one out walk to Nori Aoki. Johan Camargo would then throw the ball away on a Jose Reyes grounder setting up second and third with one out.
Asdrubal Cabrera then ripped a line drive that should have give the Mets the lead. It would only be a game tying sacrifice fly because Inciarte did it against the Mets again:
After a scoreless ninth from Jeurys Familia, the Mets would have a chance to walk it off. It was going to be difficult against A.J. Minter who has had a terrific rookie season.
The Mets would give the rookie his first loss of his career.
The game winning rally started with a Plawecki single, and Juan Lagares pinch ran for him. Terry Collins then uncharacteristically allowed Dominic Smith to face a left-handed pitcher. The decision was all the more surprising when you consider the Mets had a bench full of right-handed batters.
Smith rewarded Collins’ faith when he drew the first walk Minter has issued in his brief career. Not just a walk to a left-handed batter. First walk.
After Rosario failed to lay down the sacrifice bunt, Taijeron delivered with a single to left giving him the first walk-off hit of his Major League career.
Five years later, Dickey was great, and the Mets won the game. If this was really the end of his career, it was a fitting end for a pitcher that really helped turn the Mets around.
Game Notes: AJ Ramos has been unavailable with a bicep issue, and he may be done for the season.
The Mets played two ends of a doubleheader against the Braves with vastly different results.
When you look at the lineup on the first game, you can immediately guess which game they won and which one they lost:
- Nori Aoki
- Jose Reyes
- Brandon Nimmo
- Phillip Evans
- Dominic Smith
- Amed Rosario
- Juan Lagares
- Tomas Nido
- Chris Flexen
For his part, Flexen fought the good fight pitching five good innings allowing just one earned run. Then the sixth inning happened.
Josh Smoker would relieve Flexen, and he would allow all three inherited runners to score. The highlight (lowlight?) was Mets killer Freddie Freeman hitting a two run double.
With the lineup the Mets had, this game was all but over. The base running certainly didn’t help that Tyler Flowers threw out Lagares and Reyes trying to steal a base.
The Braves would score runs in each of the final four innings in the 9-2 blowout. The only Mets runs came off a Nido two run seventh inning double; his first career extra base hit.
Things would go much better in the second game of the double header because Seth Lugo was great.
Lugo pitched six scoreless innings allowing just two hits while walking none. He kept the Braves off balance striking out seven.
He’d get all the run support he needed from Travis d’Arnaud who had another big night in what has been a big month for him.
In the third, after Asdrubal Cabrera had an RBI groundout scoring Nimmo, d’Arnaud doubled home Lagares. The Mets 2-0 lead would become a 3-0 lead with a d’Arnaud eighth inning homer.
The Mets needed all the room they could get because Jeurys Familia had an adventure in his second save opportunity since coming off the disabled list.
After a Kurt Suzuki lead-off single, Familia made an error on a Freeman grounder to set up first and second with no outs.
Familia then bore down, and he got Flowers to ground out to end the game.
Between the two games, the Mets scored five runs. The runs were sufficient in the second half because the Mets had good pitching. That was a reason why the team was good in 2015 and 2016. For at least one night, you were reminded of those days.
Of course, with them getting annihilated in the first half of the doubleheader, you were reminded why the Mets are terrible this year.
Game Notes: Kevin Plawecki started at first base in the second game. With the Mets losing the first game of the doubleheader, they have officially gone the 2017 season without sweeping an opponent at home.
Since Citi Field opened, I’ve been to a countless number of games. It’s fewer than the games I’ve attended at Shea, but still I’ve attended many games at Citi. Tonight, I made the conscious decision to enjoy the park.
Honestly, I made that decision based for two different reasons. The first was the lineup was Nori Aoki–Jose Reyes–Asdrubal Cabrera. Once again, that lineup signals the Mets have completely lost focus on their primary objective, which is to develop and find out about their young players.
The second was when I entered Citi Field with my son, and he was interviewed by SNY:
After that, I made it to the starts because I wasn’t going to miss Noah Syndergaard‘s first “start” off the Disabled List.
It was a glorious return with him hitting 99 MPH on the gun while facing the minimum. Once Daniel Murphy grounded into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, Syndergaard’s night was over.
He looked great, and he left the game without issue. It was certainly a highlight.
From there, the Mets went to Matt Harvey. It was Harvey’s first career relief appearance even if he was really the scheduled starter.
In Harvey’s first inning of work, he looked like the Harvey of old. The velocity was there. The slider was moving. It was great to watch, but knowing how he’s pitched this year, I knew it was fleeting, so it was time to re-embark and walk around the ballpark starting with the dunk tank
Of course, that made him want a snack, so we continued our tour around the ballpark.
Before grabbing his snack, we settled on popcorn in a helmet.
After watching a few innings, we ventured back out because he wanted an Amed Rosario shirsey. Even though Yoenis Cespedes is his favorite player, he reminded me he already has a Cespedes shirt. Because I was swept up in the moment, and I had a coupon, I got swept up in the moment
Rosario shirsey in tow, my son not only wanted to play baseball again, but he was feeling a bit cocky:
We were in our seats for the next few innings including the seventh inning stretch. With all the running around and with it being well past my son’s bedtime, he only made it through the ninth.
He was drifting, and I thought it cruel to have him awoken by fireworks. As I entered the car, I did hear the fireworks start. Unfortunately, it was in the form of a Murphy 10 inning game winning off Jacob Rhame.
Overall, I really appreciated going around the park with my son. Citi Field really is a great place to take a kid to a game. It would be even better with a better team or with an organization that cared about developing their young players in times like these.
Since Brandon Nimmo was called-up on July 30th and became an everyday player, he has shown patience and a good eye at the plate. In fact, he has led all Mets players in walks (25), and he is second on the team in OBP (.392). These are the numbers you would like in a lead-off hitter, especially one that was a successful lead-off hitter in Triple-A.
However, the Mets don’t want Nimmo as their lead-off hitter right now. They would rather have Nori Aoki hit lead-off. For that matter, they would rather have Jose Reyes and Asdrubal Cabrera hit behind him. Surprisingly, the Mets have no room for Nimmo in the top half of their lineup.
Instead, they would have Aoki lead-off. Now, it’s quite understandable why the Mets would play Aoki. There’s really no third Major League caliber otufielder on the team, and the Mets want to get a closer look at him with the team having a possible opening for a fourth or fifth outfielder on the 2018 roster. Still, that does not mean he should be hitting lead-off.
We already know what he is as a lead-off hitter. He has been fine in that role hitting .286/.354/.388 in his six year career. He’s been successful enough in that role that he has played a vast majority of his games as a lead-off hitter. Overall, it’s been well established he is a capable lead-off hitter.
The same cannot be said for Nimmo. While we know he’s a great lead-off hitter in Triple-A, we don’t know that he is in the majors. Sure, September is a small sample size, but it is still an opportunity. It’s a wasted opportunity with the way the Mets are wasting. It should be a surprise to no one as the team has wasted most of this season.
Here’s the thing. While you enjoy beating the Nationals, this game didn’t mean much. It’s not that the Mets season is over, and the Nationals have gone into preparing for the offseason mode. No, it’s because the Mets with Terry Collins at the helm aren’t focusing towards next year enough.
His second RBI was the game winning RBI scoring Juan Lagares.
Now, it’s beer. great to see Lagares get regular playing time. There are so few reasons to watch this team, but his defense is certainly one of them. He did it again today.
The reason the Mets were down was because Robert Gsellman wasn’t the same pitcher he was in his last start. Gsellman would only last five innings allowing four hits, six runs, five earned, and three walks with four strikeouts.
The big blow against him was an Adam Lind third inning three run homer.
However, when all was said and done, it wasn’t the Lind homer, but the Travis d’Arnaud homers. Yes, plural.
Déjà vu for d'Arnaud! His second homer of the game evens things at 6. End-5 pic.twitter.com/dCFusNjuM2
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 23, 2017
The first homer off Edwin Jackson that gave the Mets a 1-0 second inning lead. Jackson seemed to settle in after that, but the floodgates would open after the aforementioned Lagares bunt single.
His second one off Jackson tied the game setting the stage for the bullpen to keep the Nationals at bay.
At least to start the ninth, it was AJ Ramos. However, Ramos would not finish the inning.
Josh Smoker, who has reverse splits in his career, was brought to face Lind. He rose to the challenge getting him to line out for the second out of the inning.
Next, just like Collins went back to Jeurys Familia to close it out. For the first time since returning from surgery. It was just like old times with Familia striking out Victor Robles to end the rally and the game.
Game Notes: Amed Rosario came back after missing three