CINCINNATI – The Mets had to come to grips with letting one get away on Saturday, hoping it wouldn’t doom their season. They spoke of the chances they missed and how it stung.
They tried to erase the feeling as soon as possible.
The Mets used a four-run first inning to power a 6-3 victory over the Reds on Sunday. They avoided falling further behind in the wild card chase, but are still 4.5 games back with seven to play after a 4-2 road trip.
“You want to take all of them at this point,” manager Mickey Callaway said. “Good road trip, we’re playing good baseball. Let’s see if we can continue to put pressure on others.”
Right away, they took control.
Michael Conforto’s three-run blast served as the defining moment of the first inning — and maybe the game. It traveled an estimated 415 feet, per Statcast, though that mark may not do it justice.
“I didn’t see (how many rows it went up),” Conforto said. “I knew it was gone so I just ran the bases. That one felt good. Felt good to put us up in the first inning and I knew we’d add a couple more after that.”
The New York Mets suffered yet another late-inning defeat on Saturday. This one drilled the hole for the final nail in their 2019 coffin. It was a good run though.
Although “it ain’t over until it’s over,” the New York Mets clock is at 11:59 and 58 seconds and about to strike midnight. Yesterday in Cincinnati the “little engine that could” finally petered out on a mountain too big to climb. The Amazins late-inning loss put them 4.5 games out of the National League’s final Wild Card spot with eight games to play.
Their elimination number is now four. That means any combination of four Mets losses or Milwaukee Brewers wins mathematically puts the team in front of their television sets for the postseason.
It was a fun ride though. All season long people poked fun at General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s preseason comment that the rest of the National League East could “come and get his New York Mets. While the Braves did just that, it wasn’t an easy task for the rest of the division, or anyone else not named Los Angeles Dodgers to accomplish. Left for dead many times over this season, the team refused to kick the bucket that was placed next to their feet.
This was a team that at one point in the summer was 11 games under .500. Manager Mickey Callaway was almost a lock to get fired and an 82-year old, Phil Regan, was recycled to resurrect the pitchers when the Mets canned their pitching coaches around the midpoint of the season. To their credit, the boys in the locker room never quit. In fact, they turned their adversity into triumph.
In 1973 legendary New York Mets relief pitcher Tug McGraw told fans, “Ya gotta believe,” when that incarnation of the team made an unlikely run to the World Series. Although they didn’t say it, this year’s group of Amazins rekindled the same hope fans had all those years ago.
Some of them had outstanding seasons. Mets ace starter Jacob deGrom eventually found the form that made him last season’s Cy Young Award winner. “Polar Bear” Pete Alonso became only the second rookie to hit 50 home runs in MLB history. With eight games left, he has a decent shot to eclipse Aaron Judge‘s record 52, set in 2017. Jeff McNeil reminded everyone that there is still an important place for someone who can hit for average in the current feast or famine culture of the game. Finally, if not for Alonso, J.D. Davis would have garnered some Rookie of the Year consideration with his combination of batting average and long ball ability.
The GM felt it too. He showed amazing faith in his team at the July 31 trade deadline. Everyone and his brother, wanted the Mets to be sellers at the deadline. Daily reports of deals sending potential free agents out of town were all the rage. While he did dump their fifth starter, at the time, Jason Vargas, BVW shocked everyone and “bought” a pitcher, Marcus Stroman, who will be part of the team’s rotation for the next few years.
Atlanta may still be a juggernaut, but the New York Mets have shown the foundation for a contender is there. If Van Wagenen tells the world in the upcoming offseason that his team should be feared, take him at his word.
After Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark, the New York Mets’ deficit to capture an unlikely National League Wild Card spot increased to four games. With Milwaukee’s 10-1 shellacking of the Pirates on Saturday night, that gap widened to 4.5 games.
Regardless of that disappointing outcome, the Mets’ inability to take advantage of a number of opportunities this year has left them in a position of winning all the games they can and hoping for help as the season draws to a close.
Todd Frazier, who went 2-for-3 on Saturday, collecting two-thirds of the Mets’ hits but also committing two costly fielding blunders in a two-run first, spoke to the media corps after the game regarding where the team stands with eight games left in the season (quotes via Tim Healey, Newsday).
“I felt like we had to go 9-1 [over the last 10 games]. So here is our one. Let’s roll from here,” Frazier said, keeping hope alive in some fashion. “When you lose, you have to hope for some losses. That’s the stage we’re at right now and that’s just not a good stage.”
After making up for a 40-50 first half with a red-hot-at-times 40-24 second act, the Mets did all they could to make things interesting down the stretch. They’re still mathematically alive, but they’re going to need a miracle to pull this thing off.
Clearly, a perpetual stream of high-leverage situations has affected this mostly-inexperienced (at least in a postseason race) team in some facets. But, according to Frazier (per Healey), that’s simply par for the course this time of year.
“If you’re not ready for this — if you’re not emotionally drained right now — you gotta figure something else out or not play. I think everybody understands the severity of [playing must-win games all the time].”
With the Mets’ wrapping up their final road series of the season on Sunday in Cincy then heading home for their final seven games against the Marlins and the already-clinched Braves, this team is still technically alive.
Winning games is all the New York Mets can do at this point to keep their impossible dream alive. As Frazier said, “let’s roll from here”.