The young, focused and mature Mets

Matthew Cerrone
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I was very impressed with how focused the Mets were on winning last night, and not on Chase Utley. To listen to talk radio, fans outside and inside the ballpark and questions from reporters, you would think the night had one objection, which was to hurt Utley. However, with Utley not in the game, the Mets looked forward.

I was on the field, in the dugout, around the team before the game, I listened to a lot of conversations between players and coaches and I didn’t catch a single person talking about anything other than what needed to be done to win the game. They kept their composure, and I credit that mostly to Terry Collins and his coaching staff. I heard they were very direct with players before the game about what last night was about, and everyone was on board. It showed. They looked locked in at the plate. Harvey did his best to grind through the game, despite knowing he had extra eyes on him to see if he’d throw at an opposing hitter, which he didn’t.

It makes me wonder what would have happened had Don Mattingly put Utley in the game, though. What would have happened had Utley been the shortstop, with Yoenis Cespedes barreling down on him to break up a double play? What would Harvey have done with Utley in the batter’s box? Thankfully, we never had the chance to find out. In fact, there were two occasions when Mattingly could have used Utley as a pinch hitter and yet he didn’t do it, which makes me wonder if the whole situation was more in his team’s head than the Mets. If that’s the case, doing nothing and remaining focused may have been an even more brilliant move by Collins and the Mets than I realized. In either case, cooler heads prevailed and, because of it, the Mets can end this series tonight.


Matthew Cerrone and Toby Hyde discuss the Game 3 win…

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It was the playoff game Gotham deserved

Maggie Wiggin,
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Citi Field saw 567 regular season games before it hosted its first playoff game and, well, it was worth the wait. The crowd was off the rails, hanging on every play. The boos for Chase Utley were positively deafening. And the cheers for Ruben Tejada (and David Wright, Curtis Granderson, while even the ever-jeered Ray Ramirez got applause) were no less hearty. As Master Sgt. Mary Kay Messenger sang a stunning rendition of the National Anthem, fireworks went off in the outfield and there were tears in her eyes — and mine.

The elation was short-lived, though, and when Matt Harvey proved mortal, giving up 3 runs in the second inning, the previously raucous stadium fell painfully silent. We’d all seen this episode before. The ace falters, the hitting slumps, and we all go home looking to tomorrow with dread.

But the offense didn’t get the memo and exploded for a franchise record 13 runs. The Yoenis Cespedes homer, by far the biggest I’ve ever seen in person, was simply epic. From the nosebleed seats, it appeared to be coming straight at me.

But the one I’ll remember was Granderson’s bases-clearing double to put the Mets on top for the first time. That’s moment reminded me that these are the 2015 Mets, who racked up unlikely win after unlikely win to complete a unlikely season. These Mets don’t roll over, and they never stop having fun. And fun was had in spades last night, the sound of laughter between pitches, and smiles on 44,000 faces. After years of heartache, Mets fans deserved this one. And now we get to do it again.


Utley’s appeal hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 19

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Citi Field is alive and well!

Matthew Cerrone
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There was a point before the game started, after the National Anthem, when the Citi Field public address announcer informed fans that TBS would be showing the ballpark for the first time and the crowd should get loud. And we got loud. I got chills from seeing every single fan on their feet, waving orange towels, hysterically pumped up for the first playoff game in the ballpark’s history. And then, four innings later, Yoenis Cespedes hit a line drive home run in to the second deck and Citi Field got ever louder. It was like a lid came off the place. There were Mets fans jumping on seats, high fiving strangers, others running through the aisles with banners, yelling. It was beautiful. I happened to be watching that moment with some friends around section 320, and after the ball landed in the stands, and everyone was losing their minds, a guy behind me jumped on to the oval-shaped bar and yelled, “YO BABY! YO BABY! YO BABY!” which I still keep laughing about. It was a level of free, unbridled enthusiasm I haven’t seen since Shea Stadium.

My actual seats for this series are in Section 505. I’m surrounded by genuine Mets fans, die hards who are in to every pitch. I mean, even the wave got shouted down. The chants were lively, and people cared. It wasn’t about no hitters, or batting titles or All-Star Games. Finally, Citi Field was full of Mets fans, decked out in Mets colors, the aisles and concourses were empty, every one was seated, watching and celebrating New York Mets baseball.

I got home at 3 a.m. ET, up three and a half hours later with my kids, writing this post an hour after that. But, who cares? I’m doing it again tonight, because this is absolutely amazing. And, after nine years of waiting, nothing can keep me away from potentially seeing this team advance to another NL Championship Series. Let’s do this, everyone!! Let’s beat LA. And, Let’s! Go! Mets!!


ICYMI: Reaction from Game 3 win

Mets Playoffs Extra: Gary Apple, Nelson Figueroa, Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen discuss the win >> Watch here

Steve Gelbs interviews Curtis Granderson on the field >> Watch here

Matt Harvey and Travis d’Arnaud discuss the starter’s game >> Watch here

Terry Collins’ take on Game 3 >> Watch here

Mets and Dodgers players react to Game 3 >> Watch here

Mostly Mets: Game 3 Reaction >> Listen here

Oct 12, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) hits a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the NLDS at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Cespedes crushes mammoth homer

Yoenis Cespedes went 3-for-5 and crushed a 440-foot, three-run home run during Monday’s win over the Dodgers.

Cespedes hit Alex Wood’s 2-2 fastball into the second deck at Citi Field in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Mets a 10-3 lead.

“It makes me very happy, because I think that home run helped me put my team at a little bit more of an advantage,” Cespedes said. “I think today’s win was really important and I’m happy with that.”

Cespedes started the team’s four-run rally in the bottom of the second inning by beating out a groundball hit to Jimmy Rollins and scoring from second base on Travis d’Arnaud’s RBI single.

In the third inning, he singled to center and scored on d’Arnaud’s two-run home run.

“It was incredible,” Cespedes said about the fans and atmosphere at Citi Field. “I don’t think I’ve ever played at home for my team with this many fans in the stands.”

Matthew Cerrone
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That ball was an absolute laser beam. And, the way he admired it leaving the ballpark, his back to first base, holding the bat in the air, then flipping it a mile high, was priceless. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched in a dozen times and it never doesn’t make me smile. Cespedes has a way of putting an exclamation point at the end of these offensive outbursts, which is special. Last night’s home run felt like a knockout punch. The crowd at Citi Field erupted like I’ve never heard before, people were jumping in the aisles, high fiving strangers, it was incredible, it solidified that the game would not be lost and everyone in the building could feel it. It was great.


Tonight’s playoffs coverage on SNY


Oct 12, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud (7) celebrates with center fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) after hitting a two run home run during the third inning against the Los Angeles Dodgersin game three of the NLDS at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

D’Arnaud’s three hits, three RBIs lead Mets

Travis d’Arnaud went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a two-run home run during Monday’s win against the Dodgers.

Trailing 3-0 in the second inning, d’Arnaud drove in Yoenis Cespedes with an RBI single to cut the deficit to two runs. He later scored on Curtis Granderson’s bases-clearing double that gave the Mets their first lead of the night.

“That was huge for us,” d’Arnaud said. “Right when we got back in the dugout, everyone was saying, ‘We got this, we got this,’ and we never give up and it shows what kind of character and fight this team has.”

The next inning, Brett Anderson hung a first-pitch changeup to d’Arnaud, who lined it just over the left-field fence to give the Mets a 6-3 lead.

“I just think we were ready for our pitch,” d’Arnaud said. “We were fortunate enough to get our pitch and put good swings on it.”

D’Arnaud had been 0-for-7 in the first two games of the series, but worked with hitting coach Kevin Long to make adjustments.

“Today I was just trying to keep things simple,” d’Arnaud said. “I’ve been overthinking and trying to do too much instead of seeing the ball and hitting the ball.”

Matthew Cerrone
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It’s about time. Travis has looked totally lost at the plate the last month or so. But, he clearly liked what he was seeing tonight. I think it’s interesting that he clearly needs the advice of his hitting coach. There are some guys who don’t, and that’s fine. And there are some guys who do, and that’s fine too. But, it’s obvious that when he gets in to a rut, he needs to watch a ton of video and a forceful coach in his ear to get him back on track. He picked the right game to get locked back in. In the span of one game, he went back to reacting to what was being thrown, as opposed to guessing, which is what was getting him in to trouble during September. I have confidence he’ll continue it tonight, because it was a clear adjustment that paid off for him.

Oct 12, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the NLDS at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Harvey didn’t have his best stuff in Game 3 win

Matt Harvey allowed three runs (two earned), seven hits and two walks in his postseason debut, laboring through five innings during Monday’s win at Citi Field.

“He worked harder tonight – to give us five quality innings – than I have seen him work at any time in any start,” manager Terry Collins said. “He didn’t have his good stuff, he had to work to make pitches, he was deep in counts, he was falling behind, he was missing targets … He had to go out there and battle and he kept us in the game.”

Harvey allowed four straight singles to begin the second inning as the Mets fell behind 3-0. Yasmani Grandal lined a two-run single past a diving Daniel Murphy to score two runs, and Carl Crawford went first to third and scored on Curtis Granderson’s throwing error. After Granderson’s three-run double in the bottom half of the inning gave the Mets the lead, Harvey prevented the Dodgers from scoring again.

“The offense came up big and really picked me up when I needed help,” Harvey said after the game.

Harvey pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the third inning by striking out Andre Ethier and Crawford, and got Crawford to ground out to second base with two runners on base to end the fifth inning.

“He was bound and determined that they weren’t scoring again,” Collins said. “After the second inning, he said, ‘That’s all they’re getting.'”

Harvey threw 60 of his 97 pitches for strikes and said he wanted to go out for the sixth and seventh innings, but said Collins “made the right call” by taking him out after five innings.

“He didn’t have his best stuff today, but he showed what kind of heart he had, fighting there and helping us out and going those five innings and putting up zeroes for us,” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said.

Matthew Cerrone
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He was not bad, just underwhelming. I appreciate how he buckled down and did his best to grind through the start. In the end, he never let the game get out of hand and he deserves credit for that. However, he was soft, struggled with his command and was certainly not on his game. I’m worried about his next start, assuming the Mets advance and he gets the ball again. He had a bizarre September, full of short outings, skipped starts and a ton of drama.

He’ll say he’s fine, and I’m sure he thinks he’s fine. But, the fact is, he’s 200 innings in to his first full season back from Tommy John surgery, which has got to be taking a toll on his body. I think it’s unfair to expect him to be pitching at the top of his game. Yes, I’m making excuses for him, but I think that’s fair given his circumstance. If this was next year, in his second season back, when all research indicates the surgery is behind him, this would be a different story. But, right now, given the reality, I think it’s important to keep what he’s capable of in perspective. He’ll be better next season. Right now, while he could certainly deliver a gem he’s next time out, he might not, and so he’s a concern…