Mets’ improbable comeback sparks dreams of what could be

Mets’ improbable comeback sparks dreams of what could be

It’s not like you didn’t have other options at your disposal, right? The Rangers were coming back at the Penguins with a vengeance at Madison Square Garden. There was a cool crossover episode, two “Law and Orders,” both “SVU” and “Organized Crime.” There was a good book to crack open, maybe a podcast to get lost in. 

There was anything but the slog at Citizens Bank Park. 

There, the Mets were getting slaughtered by the Phillies, and were about to ponder back-to-back blowout losses for the first time all year. There is also heavy rain heading toward Philadelphia, so it was entirely possible they’d have to sleep on it for two extra nights. Aaron Nola had stifled them. For extra insult, old friend Jeurys Familia cruised through them in the eighth inning. 

“You get down that much early with Nola out there,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said, “you don’t like your chances.” 

Yeah. This one was gone. This one was long gone, and so were you. It was 7-1 in the ninth. 

Except this is 2022. And in every friend group, there is almost always one true believer, someone who will goad you into turning the channel back if things get interesting. And just before 9:45 p.m., those texts started buzzing all around New York. Something was brewing at Citizens Bank. The Mets were still breathing.

Pete Alonso (right) celebrates with Brandon Nimmo (left) during the Mets' comeback win.
Pete Alonso (right) celebrates with Brandon Nimmo (left) during the Mets’ comeback win.

Maybe you rejoined the telecast when Francisco Lindor, mired in a wool blanket of a slump, cracked a two-run homer off James Norwood. Maybe you waited until Mark Canha hit a pool shot off Phillies closer Corey Knebel, cutting the score to 7-4 and bringing the tying run to the plate. 

Surely, by the time there were two outs and the Phillies were on the verge of escape, your curiosity had brought you back to see J.D. Davis drive in the fifth run with a double, to see Brandon Nimmo tie the game with a two-run single, to see Starling Marte blast a rocket to the deepest pocket of left field. 

“I just got in the batter’s box and wanted to put a good swing on the ball,” Marte would say. “He made a good pitch and I took a good swing. And hit it into the gap.” 

It was Mets 8, Phillies 7. 

It was Mets 8, Phillies 7! 

Such is the karma surrounding the Mets now that Edwin Diaz never even boiled anyone’s blood pressure, closing out a 1-2-3 ninth by striking out Rhys Hoskins. Out of the dugout bolted the Mets. You can watch baseball for 25 years and not see a ninth-inning rally like this. And all you could hear at Citizens Bank were Mets fans trying not to hyperventilate. 

Francisco Lindor reacts after his two-run homer in the ninth inning.
Francisco Lindor reacts after his two-run homer in the ninth inning.

“I was involved in too many other things going on to start cheerleading in the ninth,” Showalter said, before cracking a smile. “But I sure felt like it.” 

Turning serious, he said: “Nights like tonight make you realize what could be.” 

They really do. And when you start to stack them … well, you do start to wonder. Exactly two weeks earlier the Mets had trailed the Cardinals in St. Louis, 2-0, with two outs in the ninth — then scored five hard-to-believe-, hard-to-fathom unanswered runs to stun the Redbirds. That was something. 

But this was something else. 

“Such a great team win,” said Lindor, whose first-inning error had helped dig the Mets’ early hole, whose batting average had plummeted almost 90 points in a week. “The way everyone believed in each other, pushed each other, counted on each other … it’s epical for sure. Wins like this add up over the course of the year.” 

It is one game. It is one win. Mets fans have become conditioned to scour the skies for dark clouds no matter how well they play in April or May. It’s a smart way to be. Hubris doesn’t serve anyone anything good. Still … 

Mets 8, Phillies 7. 

“I’m an optimist,” Nimmo said. “But, you know … “ 

He laughed. What else could you do? 

“I just keep going until they blow the whistle,” he said. “You just never give up.” 

For one night, anyway, that wasn’t just a platitude, a cliché, a bromide. For one night it was God honest truth. 

Mets 8, Phillies 7. Amazin’.

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