Mets’ unlikely comeback sparks dreams of what could be

It’s not like you didn’t have other options available to you, right? The Rangers got 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 break open, maybe a podcast to get lost in.

There was everything but the slog at Citizens Bank Park.

There, the Mets were slaughtered by the Phillies and were on the cusp of their first full year of thinking about their consecutive blowout losses. There is also heavy rain on the way to Philadelphia, so it was very possible that they had to sleep on it for two extra nights. Aaron Nola had suppressed them. For added offense, longtime friend Jeurys Familia crossed them in the eighth inning.

“You’re down so early with Nola there,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter, “you don’t like your chances.”

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

Only this is 2022. And in every friend group there is almost always one true believer, someone who will push you to turn back the channel when things get interesting. And just before 9:45 PM, those text messages started buzzing all over 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.
USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps you were back on the broadcast when Francisco Lindor, tangled up in a wool blanket from a slump, broke a two-run home run for James Norwood. You may have waited for Mark Canha to hit a Phillies pole shot closer to Corey Knebel, bringing the score back to 7-4 and bringing the equalizer to the plate.

Surely, by the time there were two outs and the Phillies were about to break out, your curiosity had surely brought you back to watch JD Davis double in the fifth run, to see Brandon Nimmo even the game with a two-run single, to watch Starling Marte fire a missile into the deepest pocket of left field.

“I was just getting into the batter’s box and wanted to make a good swing on the ball,” Marte would say. “He made a good throw and I took a good swing. And hit it in the hole.”

It was Mets 8, Phillies 7.

It was Mets 8, Phillies 7!

Such is the karma around the Mets now that Edwin Diaz never even boiled anyone’s blood pressure, finishing a 1-2-3 ninth by knocking out Rhys Hoskins. The Mets jumped out of the dugout. You can watch baseball for 25 years without seeing a rally like this in the ninth inning. And all you could hear at Citizens Bank was 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.
USA TODAY Sports

“I was involved in too many other things to start cheerleading in ninth,” Showalter said, before smiling. “But I was definitely looking forward to it.”

He got serious and said, “Nights like tonight make you realize what could be.”

They really do. And when you start stacking them… well, you start to wonder. Exactly two weeks earlier in St. Louis, the Mets trailed the Cardinals 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 helped dig the early hole for the Mets, whose batting average had dropped nearly 90 points in a week. “The way everyone believed in each other, pushed each other, depended on each other… it’s definitely epic. These kinds of wins add up over the course of the year.”

It’s one game. It’s one win. Mets fans are conditioned to scan the skies for dark clouds, no matter how well they play in April or May. It’s a smart way to be. Hubris serves no one any good. Still …

Mets 8, Phillies 7.

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

He laughed. What else could you do?

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

At least for one night it was not just any platitude, a cliché, a bromide. For one night it was God honest truth.

Mets 8, Phillies 7. Amazing.

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