Top 10: Mets' 2018 Moments (Part 2)

            In my last post, I started my list of the Top 10 Mets’ 2018 moments. For this post, I’m going to finish the list. We’re going to get down to the real good stuff that surely put a smile on all of our faces. Without further ado, let’s get it going.

 

4.     Jacob deGrom’s complete game against the Phillies

Jacob deGrom’s journey to become the NL Cy Young winner would face some tough competition in the form of the Phillies and one of their aces, Jake Arrieta. As the season was winding to a close in mid-August, Jacob deGrom and the Mets would head to Philadelphia for what would surely be a great pitching contest. Both guys were pitching fantastic games with Arrieta only giving up 4 hits and 1 run through his 6 innings of work but deGrom was dealing on a whole different level. As the game went on, it was becoming more and more likely that deGrom might get the nod to finish the game himself. His offense would give him an early lead in the 4th inning on a Flores single and they’d give him some insurance runs in the top of the 7th with a Mesoraco homerun and a Jeff McNeil triple. With a 3-run lead and 7 strikeouts, deGrom would go back out for the bottom of the 7th where the Phillies would scratch their only run of the game due to an error by deGrom who was covering 1st base but couldn’t scoop the ball to get the out. It went down as an unearned run and kept deGrom’s ERA low as he continued his pursuit of the prestigious Cy Young award. With 99 pitches on the day, deGrom came back out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. He allowed a leadoff single to Carlos Santana, but it was quickly erased on a double play by Wilson Ramos. With only 1 out left to get, deGrom got Nick Williams to groundout and end the game. It only took deGrom 108 pitches to throw his 1st (and only) Complete Game of the season. It was a dominant performance by deGrom as he and the Mets bested the Phillies in what would eventually be an 11-8 season split against the two teams. Jacob deGrom furthered his case for being a serious Cy Young candidate and was able to gather his 8th win of the season. In a year that the Mets were clearly not going to make it to the postseason, Jacob deGrom kept us all on our feet and gave us something to applaud anytime he took the mound, and this was no different.

 

3. Brandon Nimmo’s big day in Colorado

            The Mets would take their travels to Colorado in the middle of June to face the Rockies. Both teams were starting to falter in their divisions with the Mets 10 games behind and 7 games under .500 and the Rockies 4 games under .500 and 6 games back in the NL West. But it was a Jacob deGrom start which meant there was a feeling of excitement in the air. Not allowing a rain delay to stop him, he was hoping his team would give him some runs and help him get to his 5th win of the season. And they definitely delivered the runs for him. Brandon Nimmo was the star of the show but the team as a whole pulled through and helped their ace get another win in his column as he continued to dominate. The biggest moment of the game came in the very first at-bat when Brandon Nimmo put the Mets on the board with an Inside-The-Park Home Run. With his friends and family in the stands watching the game, he fouled off a couple of Tyler Anderson’s pitches before he launched a ball to deep right field and off the fence. The ball rolled past Gonzalez and by the time Blackmon retrieved it, Nimmo was already rounding 3rd and he touched home before the ball even got to the catcher. It took Nimmo only 14.70 seconds to round the bases, which at the time was the 5th fastest time that statcast had recorded since it was introduced 3 years prior. Brandon Nimmo had been winning the hearts of Mets’ fans all season long and this was just another spectacular moment by the young outfielder. But the game was just getting started and Brandon Nimmo wasn’t done yet. He hit a single during his 3rd at-bat and would hit a home run to lead off the 7th inning and put the Mets up by another run. His 3rd hit of the day and 2nd home run. Nimmo would also score the last 2 runs of the game with a single to plate Rosario and Reyes and give the Mets their 12th run of the game and 6th of the 9th inning. Like I said before, Brandon Nimmo was definitely the star of the game, but everybody played their part and it was one of the best games to watch all season.

 

2.     Jacob deGrom’s Final Start and 1000th Career Strikeout

There have been a lot of Jacob deGrom moments in this list and really, are you surprised? He was dominant all season long and made sure to end the season with that same kind of dominance. Facing the Atlanta Braves who had been a thorn in the side of the Mets all year long, deGrom was looking to accomplish a few things. 1. Get a win to give him a winning record on the season, 2. Lower his ERA even more to help further his Cy Young case and 3. Get his 1000th career strikeout. It was really a storybook ending to what had been an unreal season for Jacob. He entered the game with 990 strikeouts in his career to that point and was damn sure going to get those last 10 before the game was over. Trouble was brewing from the very start with eventual NL Rookie of the year, Ronald Acuna hitting a leadoff single and stealing 2nd base off of deGrom. Thankfully he was stranded after deGrom worked around him with a few groundouts and a flyball. Greeted with another single to lead off the 2nd inning, deGrom got his 1st strikeout of the game to get the 1st out and a double play to end the inning and putting him within only 9 strikeouts of his illustrious 1000th. Getting 2 more strikeouts to lead off the 3rd, deGrom was carving them up at the plate as he kept them off the board and looked to be in his normal, dominant fashion. He got another pair of strikeouts to lead off the 5th and it was looking more and more likely like he’d be achieving that goal. With his team getting him the lead in the 6th, there was only 2 things left for deGrom to do. Keep the runs off the board and strikeout 3 more guys. He got one of the 3 strikeouts in the top of the 7th and when he returned to the mound for the 8th inning, the crowd was electric. With his pitch count getting close to 100, he needed to get these last 2 strikeouts this inning. With one out from a groundout, deGrom faced Tyler Flowers and struck him out looking on a 2-2 count, 96 mph fastball. Facing the young and dangerous Ozzie Albies with 2 outs and a pitch count getting higher and higher, deGrom would get the count full at 3 and 2 before catching Albies looking with a 92-mph slider. The crowd erupted, deGrom was pumped up and everyone in attendance knew that they just watched a dominant start by the almost certain NL Cy Young Award winner. It was a beautiful display of masterful pitching. deGrom threw 8 scoreless innings, giving up only 2 hits, no walks and chalking up 10 strikeouts in the process. Seth Lugo would come on to collect the save and deGrom got his 10th win of the season and lowered his ERA to an even 1.70. All 3 things were accomplished in one dominant start.

 

1.     David Wright Day

It couldn’t be anything else, could it? David Wright day was truly one of the most special

days in Mets’ history. When it was announced that David Wright would be making the final start of his career on September 29th, fans of all ages were heartbroken. David had been trying to fight back from a herniated disk in his neck since 2016 and had finally been cleared to resume baseball activities in June of 2018. After some time in the minor leagues on rehab assignments, David and the Wilpons scheduled a press conference in September to address Wright’s future. It was during that conference that David revealed he would be retiring from baseball. After years of surgeries and fighting back from the initial spinal stenosis that plagued him in 2015, the doctors told David that there would be no improvement from how he felt at the moment and he made the decision to end his career now before he put his health at any more risk. It was a respectable and commendable decision by David, but it was one that broke the hearts of all Mets’ fans. David Wright was called on as a pinch hitter on September 28th but grounded out in his only at-bat. But the reception he got from the crowd made the result of the at-bat insignificant. It wasn’t about the game, it was about the love and admiration the fans had for him. That same feeling carried over into September 29th as David Wright made his 1st start since 2016. The sold-out Citi Field cheered for everything David did that day. They cheered anytime he took a swing during batting practice, he signed autographs for a lengthy period of time. And from the moment his daughter threw out the ceremonial first pitch alongside her mother, grandparents and father who was catching the ball the crowd was respectful and the emotion was felt throughout. In his 1st at bat of the game, Wright drew a 1-out walk. During his first chance playing the field, he threw out Holaday as the crowd once again, went wild. During his next at-bat, Wright hit a ball into foul territory which was caught by Peter O’Brien. The plan from the start was for David to have 2 at-bats and then be taken out of the game. He took the field and threw the ball around with Jose Reyes who he’d spent most of his career playing with, the 2 of them had started 860 games together through their career. When Mickey Callaway came to talk to the umpire with the lineup in hand, the crowd knew that it was time. David walked around the field saluting the fans and shaking hands with the umpires and his teammates. The fans and the Marlin’s dugout both gave David a well-deserved standing ovation as he went down a line of every person in a Mets’ uniform that night shaking their hands and hugging them all. As he came up for one final curtain call, Gary Cohen couldn’t help but get emotional on commentary. A kid who grew up a Mets’ fan, and spent his entire career playing for the Mets had played his final game as a Met and it was truly a surreal moment. The captain had left the field, but he was still in the stadium. He’d make his way to the commentary booth to talk to Gary Cohen and former team captain, Keith Hernandez. He made his way over to the radio booth before sticking around in the dugout for the game to end. The game would remain scoreless until the bottom of the 13th inning when Austin Jackson would hit a walk off single to end the 4-hour game and give the Mets the win on David Wright night. The crowd was still packed to the brim as David gave a speech to the Mets’ faithful. It was truly an amazing ending to one of the most emotional days in Mets’ history. David Wright was staple of the Mets’ organization since he made his MLB debut in 2004. He delivered some of the greatest moments in Mets’ history, from helping them get to the Postseason in 2006, to hitting his first ever World Series home run in 2015. What David Wright brought to the Mets will likely remain unmatched for a very long time. An absolutely polarizing figure that everyone couldn’t help but love, David Wright gave everything he had to the Mets and the fans and David Wright Day was a thank you from not just the Mets’ organization but everyone the fans who had the pleasure of seeing him play a baseball game. He’s now part of the Mets’ front office which is a great fit for him, he’s been too instrumental to the Mets to just fade away and not be seen around. So, one last time: Thank You David.

 

            And that’s it, that’s my list of the Top 10 Mets’ 2018 moments. For a season that was considered a loss, there were plenty of memorable moments for the fans and the team. Thanks in part to the young talent like Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil, the dominant pitching by Syndergaard, Wheeler and deGrom, and the veterans like David Wright. It was a season that statistically might go down as a loss, it’s a season many of us will never forget. Thank you for taking the time to read this and feel free to share your Top 10 moments! Until next time, Let’s Go Mets!

Top 10: Mets' 2018 Moments (Part 1)

            Admittedly, I’m an overly optimistic Mets’ fan. Being optimistic isn’t a bad thing, I’d rather find the good in things than try to find what’s wrong in everything. This applies directly to my feelings with the New York Mets. 2018 wasn’t a good season, the Mets finished 4th in the NL East and collapsed on themselves after an explosive start to the season. To many, this season was a dud and one that they want to forget about. This is where my optimism comes in, while 2018 was a disappointing year, there were some very cool moments that occurred. With the 2019 season only 2 months away, I figured it’s a good time to look back at some of the high points of the 2018 season.

 

10.  Mets outlast the Nationals to make it 5 in a row

The Mets were turning a lot of heads leading up to this game. They had won their past 4 games and looked like a team reborn. It was the last game of the Nationals’ first series at home and the Mets were looking to complete the sweep and assert their dominance atop the NL East. Matt Harvey took the mound for the Mets and Tanner Roark for the Nationals. The Nationals struck first scoring 2 runs in the 1st off of a 2-run homerun by Bryce Harper. The Mets would come back with some runs of their own in the 3rd when Adrian Gonzalez cracked a grand slam to right field and put the Mets up 4-2. The Nationals would go back on top in the 4th courtesy of a double from Pedro Severino. But once again the Mets would strike back, this time thanks to a homerun from Asdrubal Cabrera to make it 5-3. The back-and-forth continued though as the Nationals scratched another run in the 5th to put them within a run of the Mets. The score would remain the same until the 7th when the Nationals scored a run off of the relief pitcher, Robert Gsellman. Seth Lugo would come in for the bottom of the 9th and looked to keep the game tied. With the bases loaded and only 1-out, Lugo struck out the next 2 batters in dramatic fashion to keep the game tied and lead it into extra innings. Lugo kept the Nationals off the board and the game remained tied until the 12th inning when the Mets would strike. With men on 1st and 2nd with 1-out, Yoenis Cespedes hit a broken bat bloop single into center field to score Lagares and give the Mets the lead. Mickey Callaway then brought in the rookie pitcher Jacob Rhame to close out the game. There weren’t many other options for Callaway since Familia was suspended still and the rest of the bullpen had been worked pretty hard. Rhame was thrown to the sharks and made it out alive to seal the Mets’ 5th consecutive win. It was one of the more dramatic games of the season with the Mets solidifying themselves as threats to the rest of the NL East (for the time being at least.)

9.     Jose Bautista’s 1st ever walk off homerun

Jose Bautista wasn’t on the Mets for very long and when he was, he didn’t really do anything too spectacular. But there was one night that he showed everyone at Citi Field why they call him ‘Joey Bats.’ It was a normal Friday night for the Mets. Jacob deGrom was on the mound showing everyone how great of a pitcher he is, and his offense was doing nothing to help him get a win. The Mets had scored 1 run in the 3rd but it wasn’t enough. The Rays would score a run in the 5th to tie the game. deGrom pitched 8 innings but got no help from the offense and was left to face a no decision. Familia came in for the 9th and kept the game tied for the bottom of the 9th when the Mets came to bat. The inning started with Todd Frazier drawing a walk on 5 pitches, followed by a single from Mesoraco. With men on 1st and 2nd, Amed Rosario would lay down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd with 1-out. Dominic Smith was called on to pinch hit, but he’d ground out and the runners were left stranded. The Rays would intentionally walk Brandon Nimmo to load the bases. It was a smart move, Jose Bautista was on deck to hit and he hadn’t been much of a threat at the plate. But then it happened, with his .225 batting average in tow, Jose Bautista would swing at the 1st pitch he saw and send the ball to the upper deck in left field and win the Mets the ballgame. It was his 1st ever walk off homer and he did it in the biggest way he could, with a grand slam. It was a very cool moment even during the time when the Mets were 14 games under .500.

8.     Wheeler shines as the Mets rally in the 9th to tackle the D-Backs

As the Mets were crumbling and sitting 10 and ½ games back in the NL East, the Diamondbacks were playing some inspired baseball and showing that they could be serious contenders for the NL West. When the Mets came to town it wouldn’t have been surprising to see them get smacked around by Arizona who had rediscovered the energy, they had previously lost. With a red-hot Paul Goldschmidt, there was no telling what could happen. Zack Wheeler would take the mound for the Mets and he found his rhythm pretty quickly and held the Diamondbacks to only 2 runs through 6 innings. Striking out 8 and only giving up 3 hits, Wheeler helped keep the Mets in the game as long as he could. It wasn’t until Goldschmidt hit a double that he’d allow a run to cross. Ketel Marte would score another run in the same inning but those would be the only runs allowed by Wheeler. With a run scored in the 1st by Frazier, the Mets were only down a run until the 8th inning where the Diamondbacks would score another, this time off a double hit by Jake Lamb off of Familia. The Mets came to bat in the bottom of the 9th now facing a 2-run deficit and were looking to get on and keep the game alive anyway they could. Dominic Smith and Kevin Plawecki would both go down via the strikeout to make the Mets’ chances of winning very slim. Jose Reyes would hit a bunt single to keep the inning alive however. With 2-outs and Bautista at the plate, Reyes would take 2nd on defensive indifference which would allow him to score on a double hit by Bautista shortly after. Brandon Nimmo would come to bat with the Mets only trailing by a run. But scoring just 1 run wasn’t enough for Nimmo as he hit a home run to right field to give the Mets the lead. Cabrera would then take his turn at bat and hit a home run of his own to put the Mets up 5-3. Robert Gsellman would come in for the save and the Mets would seal the victory in unlikely fashion.

7.     Wilmer Flores becomes Mets’ all-time walk off leader

There are a few things in life that are certain; death, taxes, and Wilmer Flores hitting walk offs. It almost became a bit of running gag anytime Wilmer would take the plate with the game on the line, ‘walk-off Wilmer’ would instill hope in many of the Mets’ faithful anytime he’d get into the batter’s box for a dramatic moment. It was game 1 of a doubleheader against the Phillies in early July when Flores would make Mets’ history. Both teams were only able to scratch a few runs off of each other throughout the game and went into the bottom of the 10th all knotted up at 3 apiece. Wilmer Flores was called on to pinch hit for relief pitcher Tim Peterson to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning. Flores almost took 1st on a hit by pitch but it wasn’t called by the umpires and after a challenge by Callaway, the call was upheld, and Flores was still at bat in a very good hitters count of 3 and 1. Although I’m sure that the Phillies wish that they had given Flores the free base because he hit the next pitch to deep left field and when it seemed like the ball might go foul, it curved back around and smacked off the foul pole to give the Mets the win and make Flores the all-time walk off leader. The previous leader was the Mets’ captain, David Wright. And not to downplay David Wright in the slightest, but Flores surpassed him in his 1,790th plate appearance…5,079 plate appearances less than Wright took to set the original record. BUT that’s not the point, the point is that Wilmer Flores cemented himself as a Met for life with that record. Even if the record gets broken, Flores will always be remembered for his clutch hitting in those situations. The Diamondbacks got themselves a very good player in Wilmer Flores and I for one will miss seeing him in Orange and Blue. Thank you, Wilmer.

 

6.      Jeff McNeil’s existence

            Okay so I know it’s not exactly a ‘moment’ but I could probably do a top 10 list of JUST Jeff McNeil moments so I’d rather just throw it into 1 listing instead. Jeff McNeil’s Major League debut was insane. He was a guy that’d you hear about making rumblings in the minor leagues but then he’d get injured and that would be it. But in his first full healthy season in the minors, he made enough rumblings to earn himself a callup towards the end of July. So, let’s start off with his bat and I don’t mean the actual bat he uses (even though it’s very interesting) but his actual hitting at the plate. He got his first major league hit during his first plate appearance in a big-league game. Then, during his 7th game in the Majors, he hit his 1st homerun and drove in his first RBI. He was off to a fast start and there was really no way to look past what he brought to the team. Some of the catches he’d make while playing defense were unbelievable. He was getting putouts and turning double plays and was truly one of the MVPs of the team. He went on an 11-game hitting streak as well as an 11-game streak of getting on base and the team went 37-26 during games he appeared it. OR, 31-22 in games that he started in. It’s hard to look at the Mets’ 2018 season and not talk about Jeff McNeil. In 225 at bats, McNeil hit .329 with 3 homeruns and 19 RBIs. Despite the influx of infielders for 2019, I’m very excited to see what McNeil can do during an entire season of playing.

 

5.     Thor goes the distance in last start of the season

Noah Syndergaard didn’t have the GREATEST 2018, and that’s not to say it wasn’t good because it was. He finished the season with a 3.03 ERA and a 13-4 record. Although there were some games where he just didn’t seem himself on the mound. Whether it was a high pitch count not allowing him to go deep into games, walking too many batters or just not having the stuff, he wasn’t himself for a part of the season. But if he was looking to end the season on a high note, he did just that. The Mets and Marlins would do battle on the last day of the regular season. And while it was Jacob deGrom’s unmatched dominance that the fans would be talking about, it was Noah Syndergaard that started and ended the season for the Mets. Before I get into all the details of the game against the Marlins, I’d like to add that this was his 2nd complete game in the month of September. The other complete game came earlier in the month in San Francisco when he pitched 9 innings in a 10-3 victory over the Giants. And while that was a lot of fun to watch, it was his dominance against the Marlins that really left Mets’ fans feeling good about their pitching rotation. Syndergaard would go 9 innings without giving up a run and only needing 101 pitches to do it. It was a low scoring affair with the Mets only scoring 1-run and getting 4 hits and the Marlins only getting 5 hits. Syndergaard struck out 5 and got help from his defense to keep the Marlins off the board. When Michael Conforto made the final catch of the game and the season was over, Mets fans had witnessed one of the best pitchers in baseball remind everyone how good he truly is and it was awesome to see.

 

            AND those are the first top 5 moments from the 2018 Mets’ season. The other 5 are on their way, can you predict what they’re going to be? Stay tuned as they’ll be posted sometime very soon. If you didn’t see your favorite Mets’ 2018 moment, don’t worry. There’s still time and I’m sure it’ll be on the next list. Until then, stay tuned and thanks for reading.