The Mets’ 2015 signature was resiliency; their ability to bounce back from adversity and seemingly crushing defeat.
It was around this time last season when Jeurys Familia blew his last save in a rain-soaked, thought-to-be devastating loss to San Diego. The night before Wilmer Flores endeared himself to Mets Nation when he shed tears out at shortstop after thinking he’d been traded.
What happened next will forever be a part of Mets’ lore. GM Sandy Alderson got Yoenis Cespedes in a trade, Flores homered to beat Washington and become an iconic presence, and the Mets sizzled into the World Series. In their champagne drenched clubhouses in Dodger Stadium and Wrigley Field, to a man, the Mets trumpeted their ability to get off the mat as to what their team about.
CESPEDES: Can’t do it all. (AP)
It’s time to show that quality again, following the season’s most disappointing and potentially devastating loss of the season, 5-4 to the St. Louis Cardinals, Wednesday night after Familia’s first blown save.
“This is really a tough one to take,” drained Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters. “When you come back on Adam Wainwright and have a chance to win the game, that’s a pretty big night. And then to have your closer, who just has been lights out, give up two, that’s a little tougher to take.”
Will it turn bitter and send them on an out-of-control slide or force that character to the surface?
Logan Verrett gave the Mets a chance to win, giving up three runs in seven innings. But, in the bottom half of the inning and a run already in to pull the Mets within a run, on the ninth-pitch of a heavyweight battle, Cespedes swung to create two unmistakable sounds.
There was the crack of the bat that punctuates a Cespedes home run and the explosion of emotion that engulfed Citi Field, which hadn’t been this loud since last October.
Cespedes wasn’t even back in the dugout when the inevitable thought was raised: Could this be the at-bat, the game, to propel the Mets?
With Familia riding a streak of 52 consecutive saves, it was a logical conclusion.
Addison Reed stuffed the Cardinals, 1-2-3 in the eighth, but it wasn’t long before Familia, who has given us jitters before, showed he didn’t have it.
Familia got the first hitter, but then walked Jedd Gyorko on four pitches. Gyorko homered swinging at first-pitch fastballs in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader, so Familia was going to be careful. He was too careful with sliders away.
Then Yadier Molina, who has broken Mets’ hearts before, doubled over the head of center fielder Juan Lagares and pinch-runner Randal Grichuk scored standing up to tie the game.
“I think I left it a little bit in the middle, and he made a good swing,” the stand-up Familia told reporters of the pitch to Molina.
The Mets appeared off the hook with no less than a tie when Molina was caught going to third on Jeremy Hazelbaker’s bouncer back to the mound. However, Hazelbaker quickly stole second and scored on Kolten Wong’s pinch-hit double.
Citi Field was now as quiet as it was in the last inning of Game 5 of the World Series.
The Mets’ season ended that night. What will become of it after Wednesday night?
“We’re hoping,” Collins said on bouncing back. “This is something we haven’t had happen for a long time … Jeurys Familia with a blown save. We have to back tomorrow.”
It might be imperative.
The emotional turmoil was the first of three main storylines. The others were:
ESSENCE OF CESPEDES: Cespedes is clearly hobbling, but plays anyway for the chance at what happened in the seventh when he hit his first homer since July 5.
Cespedes’ importance to the Mets is further underscored in that they were 2-for-14 with RISP Wednesday, and just 4-for-33 in the series.
“We didn’t get past that,” Collins said the Mets’ primary issue this season. “We had a lot of opportunities to score some runs.”
If there was a bright spot to the offense – outside of Cespedes – it was a Neil Walker sighting.
Walker entered the game on a 2-for-39 slide, but reached base four times on three hits and a walk.
VERRETT START WASTED: Last season at Colorado, in replacing an injured Matt Harvey, Verrett might have come up with the most important start of the season for the Mets.
Verrett always says his job is to give his team a chance to win and he did that by giving up three runs in seven innings.
As the trade deadline approaches there’s concern by some the Mets might need another starter, but that won’t be the case if he keeps pitching the way he has in his last two starts.