There will be more Mets baseball this year. Last night in Los Angeles, the team won a thrilling Game 5 to advance to the National League Championship Series and end the Dodgers’ season. Daniel Murphy was the biggest factor in all three of the runs the Mets scored, and the young pitching held up just enough for a 3-2 victory that will go down as one of the best in franchise history.
Both Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke had to work hard in the first inning. After Curtis Granderson reached on an infield single—a call that had to be reviewed to get it correct—Greinke got David Wright to strike out but served up a double in the left-center field gap to Murphy. Granderson scored easily, and after struggling mightily against Clayton Kershaw in Game 4, the Mets were quick to let everyone know they were capable of doing something against Greinke.
That run was it for the Mets in the top of the inning, and if Greinke labored, deGrom’s early workload was the baseball equivalent of an 80-hour work week. After a line out and a couple of singles, Dodgers cleanup hitter Justin Turner singled to tie the game and put runners on first and third. "Of course it was going to be Turner," said every Mets fan watching the game.
Andre Ethier followed up with a single of his own, plating the Dodgers’ second run to give them the lead. But that was the last run Los Angeles would score on the night. deGrom struck out Yasmani Grandal and Enrique Hernandez to escape that jam.
The Mets went quietly in the second, but deGrom got right back into trouble in the bottom of that inning. A walk, a sac bunt, and a Wilmer Flores error had runners on first and second with one out. deGrom answered with strikeouts of Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Rinse, repeat. The Mets went down in order in the third. Justin Turner, who was trying awfully hard to earn himself a Bucky Dent nickname among Mets fans, doubled to begin the bottom. He stole third base with one out. deGrom walked Grandal. But deGrom got Hernandez to hit a comebacker, setting up an inning ending double play from deGrom to Flores to Duda. Crisis averted.
It became the Daniel Murphy Show again in the fourth inning. Number twenty-eight singled to begin the inning. One Yoenis Cespedes out later, the Dodgers, as many teams do, shifted heavily against the left-handed Lucas Duda. Greinke walked Duda, though, and Murphy made the smartest baserunning decision of his career, stealing third base because neither third baseman Justin Turner nor any other Dodger were anywhere near it.
That heads up play was rewarded almost immediately, as Travis d’Arnaud hit a sacrifice fly to bring Murphy home and tie the game at two. When your favorite team is facing the likes of Kershaw and Greinke, a one-run deficit tends to feel more like a ten-run deficit, but with the deficit erased, it seemed like they would really have a chance.
deGrom had to work through another problematic inning in the bottom half of that inning. With Joc Pederson on second with one out and then on third with two outs, deGrom struck out Seager again to end that inning. The fifth presented a similar problem when Justin Turner—I mean, come on, enough already—doubled with one out. But a pop out and a strikeout by deGrom got the Mets through the inning.
Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
That set up what would become the game-winner for the Mets. With one out in the top of the sixth, Daniel Murphy hit a solo home run into the right field seats of Dodger Stadium, his third home run in his first-ever postseason series, a blue collar blast if there ever were one. That was the last run the Mets scored, but it was the last run they needed.
deGrom went back out for the bottom of the sixth, a move that Mets fans weren’t very comfortable with. For the first time all night, he retired the side in order. That was it for deGrom, who wound up finishing with six innings pitched, two runs allowed, seven strikeouts, and three walks. He clearly didn’t have his best night but managed to pull off that line in an elimination game.
Noah Syndergaard, the 23-year-old Texas native who has embraced his "Thor" nickname, took over for deGrom in the seventh and threw a dominant, scoreless inning.
The Mets couldn’t add any insurance runs, and Terry Collins got some Mets fans’ stomachs twisting again when he chose to turn the game over to Jeurys Familia to start the eighth inning. If Familia could have heard those concerns, he would have laughed. It took him just 21 pitches to record the last six outs of the game in order. In the series, he faced sixteen batters. He retired all of them.
Win it for Ruben, they did.
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Win Probability Added
Big winners: Daniel Murphy, +41.5% WPA, Jeurys Familia, +30.6% WPA, Noah Syndergaard, +10.1% WPA
Big losers: Yoenis Cespedes, -12.4% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Daniel Murphy’s solo home run in the sixth, +19.0% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Justin Turner’s game-tying single in the first, -10.8% WPA
Total pitcher WPA: +50.5% WPA
Total batter WPA: -0.5% WPA
GWRBI!: Daniel Murphy