Manager Buck Showalter said the upcoming, three game, NL east division showdown between the Mets and Braves is good for baseball. His team left Citi Field Wednesday night with that slim one game division lead as the Nationals walked off the Braves in D.C.
But the Eduardo Escobar walk-off 10th inning single, giving the Mets a 5-4 win over the Marlins, assured there will be a showdown in Atlanta, assuming, though, a forecast of heavy rains due to Hurricane Ian does not cause contingency plans.
Credit this win to the bullpen which tossed five scoreless innings, and Escobar with his five RBI night, which accounted for all of the Mets’ runs. As Showalter said, this is good for baseball and his team needs to win one game to at least force a tie for the division lead, going into the final series against Washington next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Mets don’t want to settle for a tie for their first divisional title since 2015. They are looking for a win, or two, or possibly sweep and dethrone the Braves dominance of winning the division. Escobar is swinging a hot bat at the right time, 8 home runs and 24 RBI this month.
His 20th home run in the seventh, a two-run shot, cut into the Marlins’ 4-0 lead. He also laced a game-tying single in the eighth.
But as Showalter said about Escobar, who has struggled at the plate at various times this season but had the total support of his manager. “The answer’s probably nothing other than he just never gave in. He never gives in. Was the same guy every day.”
The Mets are looking for Escobar to be that same guy for three games down in Atlanta because his bat makes a difference as Starling Marte, a cog in their lineup, continues to recover from a fractured finger that has kept him sidelined this month.
Regardless, this has been a Mets-Braves battle down the stretch and prior to Escobar delivering, perhaps the biggest hit of the season, it was the Nationals giving the Mets needed help down in Washington DC.
Scoreboard watching has not played out in the Mets dugout, but the Citi Field video board told the story. The Mets as a team heard the crowd cheer when the Braves-Nationals game went final, and it was all about a showdown with the Braves.
So, it comes down to one win at Truist Park and that would give the Mets a season series tiebreaker over the Braves.
“It’s going to be huge,” Drew Smith said after striking out two in the 10th and getting the win. “This is pretty much deciding the division. I’m sure it’s going to be as close to a playoff atmosphere as you can get without being in the playoffs.”
Either way, though, the Mets are playoff bound, having clinched a postseason berth last week. The difference, win the division and get a first round bye to the best of five division series instead of playing a best two-of-three as one of three NL wildcards.
And it will be a playoff atmosphere because the Braves want that division crown as well as the Mets. This is good for baseball and for fans of both teams as the only MLB division title this season that is going down to the wire.
“Good things come out the way it should because of the work I put in,” Escobar said. “I want to make these people (fans) happy when we come back from the road,” he said to the crowd after the walk-off winning hit.
So, this was a clutch hit and as good as it gets. More so, that momentum win with a day off in Atlanta. Also, Showalter has his rotation set with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer starting back-to-back, which is pretty damn good going into this showdown.
And the Mets have Escobar, second to Pete Alonso in driving in ruins this month. They need Francisco Lindor to be a part of this. Lindor was on base and scored the winning run on the hit after extending his hitting streak to 13 games.
Escobar said about the Braves loss, “I knew right before that at bat that they had lost. It was important for us to get that game.”
More important is for the Mets to take two of three from the Braves because that would assure a possible division title clinching game Monday at Citi Field against the last place Nationals.
As they say in another sport, start your engines. The showdown begins Friday evening.
Rich Mancuso:[email protected] Facebook.com Watch “Sports with Rich” live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.