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.