(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Manager Terry Collins left the dugout late Sunday afternoon and the manager of the New York Mets and his team had a victory lap at Citi Field. They waved and tipped their caps to many of the 41,631 fans who saw the Mets take their season finale over the Washington Nationals 1-0. The first mission has been accomplished and now it’s on to the National League Division Series that begins Friday.,
“Let’s go beat LA!,” David Wright told the crowd with a microphone in his hand and that is the mission in the best-of -five series against the NL west champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
Moments after that final out, when Jeurys Familia notched and tied a franchise record 43rd save, the experts said Dodgers in five games or Mets in four. Ask the Mets and they say it is their first step of an accomplishment they set out to do when they assembled for spring training back in February.
“I think it’s a great way to finish,” said Collins about the Mets 90th win of the season which also snapped a five game losing streak. “I think we’re ready. We had a tough week but we’ve got to move ahead, take the win today.’
Wright enjoyed the moment, He is returning to the postseason for the first time in nine years, and for for the Mets’ captain it is special because there were many moments and doubts that he would return and be a part of what begins Friday. It has been that special season for the Mets who went 11-8 against the Nationals. And there were those who said the Mets would be competitive but they were still a year away from being a part of the postseason fun.
So now the fun begins. Wright and the Mets believe they are ready, and the NL East divisional crown is just the first step.
Said Wright about that moment with the fans, “Sometime you get caught up in the moment and you don’t get to look around and just see the joy on the fans’ faces.That’s kind of the lasting memory that I had being able to celebrate 90 wins, the National League East, with the fans at home.”
“To see the expressions on their faces,” Collins said. “90 wins is a big step a huge step. All the things we went through. They accomplished something. We worked hard to get there and we’re going to enjoy it. We are going to get ourselves ready this week and go to LA and play like we know how.”
The manager said Yoenis Cespedes told him “We are going to have fun.” It was Cespedes who became a major component of getting to this point since coming to New York from Detroit at the trading deadline .He hit 17 home runs with 44 RBI, and slowed down a bit the past few weeks,
But Cespedes got his 14th double in the fourth inning, and there were signs that he is ready for the fun because it was one of the balls he hit with power to the gap. Cespedes was one of the unexpected moments of this Mets first place finish, and there was never any doubt that this was a team destined to be where they are now.
“Everything we have done the previous 162 games don’t change a thing,”Curtis Granderson said. “That’s what got us here at this point. You are not going to be a hero on one pitch. You have to be able to do it during course of the series.”
Granderson broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run in the eighth inning, hIs 26th. The Mets second run in their final 43 innings of the season may have been a concern because the official division clincher was a week ago. Collins said being around the game a long time sometimes it is not good for a team to clinch early.
This is a team of a few veterans, and many who will be seeing the postseason for the first time but they are ready the fun. Wright, and Michael Cuddyer bring that playoff experience. as does 42-year old Bartolo Colon who could be used as a starter against the Dodgers or utilized out of the bullpen.
Jacob deGrom held the Nationals to four scoreless innings and became the 11th pitcher in franchise history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season. and said he is ready for the challenge and fun. He gets the start for game 1 of the series Friday and there is no intimidation opposing Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw.
“This is what we play for,” deGrom said. “I’m really looking forward to this.” In his sophomore year, deGrom finished with a 2.54 ERA and finished the season with 10 starts in which he did not allow an extra base hit.
So when the Mets say they are ready for the fun, who can blame them? It was a season of the unexpected, yet the task will be difficult against the Dodgers in the division series. That first game will probably be played in the shadows, twilight in Los Angeles, and that only adds to the drama and fun, and the Mets are aware how important it is to take game one against Kershaw who was not one of the better postseason pitchers last year.
There will be a lot of pressure for another youngster in game two, Noah Syndergaard against ERA leader and 19-game winner Zach Greinke. And if the Mets come home next Monday down two games and facing elimination, Matt Harvey is on the mound. It is a part of the fun that awaits this team.
Collins will assemble the postseason roster by Friday morning and still to be determined is the health of Steven Matz, and if the youngster will be healthy to be a part of that pitching rotation. The pressure will be there, but this is part of having fun this time of year. The Mets will have a needed day off Monday, and hold workouts Tuesday and the next day will work out and board their plane for the fun that hopefully will lead to more.
“To be honest it’s really not much different,” said Cuddyer about the divisional series.
“You go out and play the game once the National Anthem is sung, the first pitch is thrown it’s baseball. We faced these guys before they played us before.”
But it is different because this is the postseason. And for the Mets, a team that was resilient all season, perhaps the fun will not be what they envision if they lose that first game in Los Angeles. However they are one of ten teams that play into October, and that is a major accomplishment.
So will it be the Mets or the Dodgers and how many games? Leave that to the experts. In the meantime the Mets will enjoy their moment and have the fun they deserve.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso