The drought is over! The New York Mets are back in the postseason for the first time in nine years.
Mets fans have suffered through collapse and heartbreak since St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright’s knee-buckling curveball stymied Carlos Beltran in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Oct 19 2006. The fans endured a collapse in the final games of the 2007 and 2008 seasons to cut them short. Since play opened at Citi Field in 2009, those true to the Mets orange and blue have agonizingly experienced six consecutive losing seasons.
All of that pain and suffering became worth it on Sept 26 as Mets fans watched Jeurys Familia strike out Jay Bruce to seal a 10-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, thus clinching the National League Eastern Division for the sixth time in franchise history.
The Mets had their ace on the mound and he did not disappoint. Matt Harvey threw 6.2 innings allowing only two runs while striking out six. Harvey was staked to a 4-0 lead before even taking the mound, thanks to a first inning grand slam by Lucas Duda.
Curtis Granderson added a solo homer of his own and of course, the captain provided some fireworks with a three-run shot in the ninth inning. It was a fitting moment for David Wright, who missed more than four months of the season as he rehabbed to recover from spinal stenosis.
“This is exactly what I dreamt of,” Wright said postgame after teammate Michael Cuddyer poured a bottle of champagne over his head. “I’ve said it from day one, I bleed orange and blue. I truly mean that.”
Manager Terry Collins certainly deserves plenty of credit for managing this team to a division title in a year where the Washington Nationals were the undisputed league favorite to not only win the N.L. East, but also the World Series. In two critical series versus the Nationals, the Mets won all six games to take control of the division. Collins out-managed Nationals manager Matt Williams, who won 2014 N.L. Manager of the Year.
Collins will be a strong candidate for the award this season as he had to deal with unfortunate injuries (Zack Wheeler, David Wright), pitch counts on their young studs’ arms and a roster that for the first half of the season consistently relied on underachievers such as John Mayberry Jr. and Eric Campbell.
Collins has managed 11 seasons in the MLB, five of which were with the Mets. This will be his first time managing in the postseason. “I’m real proud of them. These guys are fun to be around. They’re a great group of guys,” Collins said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better organization.”
General Manager Sandy Alderson deserves a lot of credit for pulling the strings on several crucial midseason acquisitions. The pressure was on Alderson to improve a lineup that desperately needed a big bat, and Sandy obliged.
After adding depth in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for veteran hitters Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe, Alderson picked up relief pitchers Tyler Clippard from the Oakland Athletics and Addison Reed from the Arizona Diamondbacks to fortify the back end of the bullpen. The Mets GM hit the lottery with acquiring Yoenis Cespedes from the Detroit Tigers to add a power bat to a lineup that sorely needed it.
“It’s very satisfying,” Alderson said about winning the division. “I’m happy for the players, for the entire organization, for the ownership, they’ve been terrific. But I’m mostly happy for the fans. They’ve been patient, they’ve been loyal. They’ve stuck with us over a long period of time.”
The Mets closed out the regular season with a 1-0 victory of the Nationals to claim their 90th win of the season. They have the next four days for rest and preparation before beginning a best-of-five series with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday October 9th.
Players and coaches saluted the fans before Wright addressed the crowd following the win in game 162. “You guys really are the best in the game, thank you very much,” Wright said. “Let’s go beat L.A.”