Brown: Citi Field Rocked Like Shea, October 

Now Playoff-Minded Mets Must Win Key Series On Road

Jake Brown
August 13, 2019 - 10:59 am
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The score was 6-3 Nationals. Bottom of the ninth. The first game of a three-game set with the Mets’ six-game win streak and 13 of 14 wins on the line. Some of the near-sellout crowd, which had been into most of the game, left when the Nats added a run in the top of the ninth, but there was still a good portion in their seats. 

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And then magic happened. Citi Field rocked like Shea. Citi rocked like an October night. 

Todd Frazier blasted a game-tying three-run homer down the left-field line that stayed fair, and you could feel an electricity in the air like it was the 2015 World Series. I was hugging random strangers. Then the Michael Conforto walk-off hit came, and the place went into a frenzy. Popcorn went flying in the air, fans were nearly brought to tears. A four-run comeback from a team that was once dead in the water just a few weeks ago. It was a storybook ending to a game that saw Marcus Stroman make his home debut and pump the crowd up with a strong outing. It was Aug.10, ,and you wouldn’t ever think it was anything but playoff baseball. 

That atmosphere Friday night carried into a sold-out capacity crowd Saturday night, when the Mets came back to win again. Of all the unlikely heroes, Luis Guillorme chose the night of the largest crowd of the season to hit his first career homer, which tied the game in the eighth inning. The Mets went on to win with a sacrifice fly. While they fell short of a sweep Sunday, they won two out of three and left the weekend just one game out of a playoff spot. The narrative that the Mets were just beating up on bad teams was in the past, and they showed some grit and heart in a tight three-game set against their division rival. 

New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 9, 2019, at Citi Field.
Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Images

There was an energy over the weekend that has never been felt in the 10-year history of Citi Field. I’m there at almost half the 81 home games every year, and there was never a level of excitement from a fan base like there was over the weekend. Fans were on their feet and chanting at all points of the game. People believe now. The only other comparison is the playoffs in 2015. Outside of that, that stadium has never been that loud and that packed. The Mets finished the weekend with a home record of 34-21. 

While the crowds can keep showing up in masses and rocking Citi, the Mets now need to take care of business on the road. They need to go win series starting in Atlanta this week and then beat up on the abysmal Royals this weekend in Kansas City. The Mets need to be better than their 27-36 road record if they want to make the playoffs. They still have 18 road games to get through, including three-game sets with the Braves, Nationals and Phillies. This team needs to find a way to go at least 10-8 in those games and then take care of business at home. 

This stretch has been sensational. We didn’t see it coming. Guys are performing as they were expected. The Mets have done it while dealing with multiple injuries, including losing Robinson Cano and Dominic Smith, to name a couple. They could have reinforcements soon, though. Brandon Nimmo is going to begin rehab games, and we could see the outfielder back with the Mets by the end of the month. 

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Adding second baseman Joe Panik and reliever Brad Brach last week was a nice start by general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. The Mets have got to cut Aaron Altherr. This guy is wasting a roster spot right now, as he swings and misses every time he hits. He can’t even sniff a .100 batting average. Rajai Davis is back after being on the injured list in Triple A with a hamstring issue and needs to take Altherr’s spot. Despite Guillorme’s big hit, the addition of Panik should leave the Mets with the simple decision to replace Guillorme with either Ruben Tejada or Dilson Herrera. Either of them gives the Mets a far better bat that they can use late in games as well. Herrera has some more pop if they went that route. 

Also, Edwin Diaz can’t be the closer for this team down the stretch here. He’s clearly lost his confidence and can’t be trusted in close games. Seth Lugo needs to close, and maybe you use Justin Wilson when Lugo can’t go. But Diaz, who has a 5.60 ERA, has cost the Mets enough. He’s been atrocious and a total liability. His six losses and five blown saves are what is keeping the Mets out of a wild-card spot right now. 

Add those moves up and this team really does have a shot to make the playoffs. All they need is that chance to get to the one-game playoff, because with this starting rotation, anything can happen if they get into October. With a front line of Jacob DeGrom, Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard, there isn’t a team that wants to face the Mets in a one-game do-or-die -- or a playoff series, for that matter.

If the fans can bring the energy they brought over the weekend that ignites this team and the Mets can play well on the road, the playoffs are no longer a pipe dream. First, go win series against good teams consistently and get timely losses from the Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers and Phillies. 

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