PHILADELPHIA – The game was a formality for the New York Mets Sunday afternoon. Clinched they did and accomplished what had to be done as they left for New York and host the San Francisco Giants Wednesday evening at Citi Field in the National League wild card game. Still you like to win them all and the Mets dropped their season finale to the Phillies.
But this is just the beginning. Manager Terry Collins said, “We’re really excited. It’s great for our fans and our guys are pumped up.” Collins has a task in the next few days to put a roster together as the journey of October begins, and the Mets will hold a workout at Citi Field Tuesday afternoon.
Gabriel Ynoa allowed one run and five hits in 4-⅔ innings and the Mets made a few errors that proved to be costly. However that is in the record books now and what matters is playing deep into October and returning to the World Series as a wild card team.
It is easy to say, with three-fifths of that starting rotation not available, that the Mets will need to use the offense as their catalyst to keep playing past Wednesday and a chance to meet the Chicago Cubs in the best of five National League Division Series.
Go back to August 17, after another devastating loss to the Diamondbacks. Collins and his job security were in question, and so were the chances of the Mets hosting a wild card game. No chance, so they said, including this columnist that had doubts. But Collins, as he did last year during the stretch, never lost his clubhouse.
And after their final loss of the season that was, Collins still had his team. Ryan Howard saw his last game as a Phillie but many of these Mets were ready to get the fun of October started. Noah Syndergaard, on the mound Wednesday night against the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, that’s the focus now.
“Everyone knows what type of pitcher Bumgarner is,” said Yoenis Cespedes through an interpreter. He said, “After the game Saturday, I did not feel that good and that’s why I did not celebrate. After the win Wednesday I will celebrate.”
Cespedes said, he felt good Sunday. And he needs to be healthy Wednesday night. If not, the other parts of that Mets lineup will need to provide the offense to support Syndergaard who struggled with run support in a majority of his starts.
For Collins, there was never that alarm. He may have showed signs of frustration, especially during that stretch in mid August when his team was quickly falling out of contention and dropping two games under the .500 mark, but the character and heart of this team, as Collins referred too, continued as they boarded their bus and headed home up the turnpike.
“It’s a great battle,” Collins said. “We fought hard all summer long. It;s the big leagues. You are going to face big league pitching.”
Bumgarner is a big league pitcher with postseason success, and 3-0 versus the Mets this season. Fighting hard, the Mets certainly did with injuries to Cespedes and losing David Wright for the season, along with, and at times Asdrubal Cabrera who became their best hitter. And when Neil Walker went down for the season, that was another major loss.
But, Collins kept his team together. They dealt with the adversity and used two young pitchers, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman that stepped up and came up big.
“I know in their clubhouse, they are saying we have to face Syndergaard,” Collins said about the Giants who became the opponent with their win over the Dodgers. “We had to hold it together. We still competed…started getting out pieces together. Those young pitchers really helped us.”
So the business is complete, and again there were doubts about continuing to play on after Sunday. The Mets, with their loss Sunday feel their momentum of this magnificent stretch with the best record in baseball, 27-13, will continue.
And that run started following the series in Arizona. They won two of three at San Francisco when Cespedes and Cabrera returned to the lineup.
That enthused fan base at home wanted this journey to continue that came up short against the Kansas City Royals last November 1st. It’s in the hands of Syndergaard now and as they say, all; hands on deck.”.
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